Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 22nd Nov 2016 23:06 UTC
Debian and its clones

From the debian-devel mailing list:

debootstrap in unstable can now install with merged-/usr, that is with /bin, /sbin, /lib* being symlinks to their counterpart in /usr.

LWN.net published an article in January 2016 going into this then-proposed change.

Debian is the latest Linux distribution to consider moving away from the use of separate /bin, /sbin, and /lib directories for certain binaries. The original impetus for requiring these directories was due to space limitations in the first Unix implementations, developers favoring the change point out. But today, many of the services on a modern Linux system impose requirements of their own on the partition scheme - requirements that make life far simpler if /bin, /sbin, and /lib can be symbolic links to subdirectories within a unified /usr directory. Although some resistance was raised to the change, the project now seems to be on track to make "merged /usr" installations a supported option. And perhaps more importantly, the arguments favoring the merge suggest that many Debian developers would like to see that configuration eventually become the default.

Any steps to clean up Linux' FHS implementation - no matter how small - is cause for widespread celebration all across the land. Call it forth!

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Mixed feelings
by jessesmith on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 02:18 UTC
jessesmith
Member since:
2010-03-11

I have mixed feelings about the merge of /bin and other top level directories into /usr. On most Linux distributions it probably makes sense because on most Linux distributions, the executables in the top level directories are just more dynamically linked binaries. They could be just about anywhere that is commonly mounted early on and it would be fine. Putting them in /usr tidies up the file system and I like that.

My issue with this situation is the files in /bin and /sbin should not be dynamically linked. I've been on Linux systems where something broke and any dynamically linked files (like /bin/cp or /bin/mv) stopped working. On other UNIX-like systems programs in top level directories are generally statically linked and won't break due to a changing dependency or corrupted C library. This allows the admin to fix things. But on Linux, the admin needs to take the system off-line and fire up a rescue disc.

I've been through this sort of thing a few times and it bothers me most Linux distros don't bother using static executables. By comparison, deciding whether to put them in /bin or /usr/bin seems like a minor issue.

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