Basically, there are two reasons why we're still stuck with the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS). The first is a perceived benefit, the other is the real reason.
The perceived benefit is that the FHS should provide a standardised file system layout across various UNIX-like operating system. This would mean that users and developers alike know exactly where to find which files. Sounds like a good idea, right?
It actually is a good idea. It's just too bad that no one actually cares about the FHS, and places their files wherever they want. Not only do different operating systems use different implementations of the FHS, but even different Linux distributions use different implementations. On top of that, the standard itself isn't strict, and allows for exceptions to its own rules (
X11R6 being placed in
/usr, anyone?). What good is a standard nobody adheres to?
Exactly, no good at all. So, this is a perceived reason why everybody still clings to the FHS. What is the real reason?
The real reason we're not moving ahead to greener pastures in file system layout land is because of inertia. The FHS is so entrenched in the UNIX/Linux world, that it's going to be very hard to move away from it. Not only would it be virtually impossible to get all the noses to point in the same direction (we can't even agree on the implementation details of the FHS!), there would be a massive uprising among people who still believe the FHS is serving its intended purpose just fine (even though it doesn't).
In the GoboLinux article on OSNews I summarised the FHS situation as follows:
To answer your question succinctly: developers are not replacing the FHS with something that actually works because they still believe in the ideals of the FHS. In addition, it would be very hard to get everyone to agree on the FHS' replacement.
With "something that actually works" I mean a file system layout that is:
- Strict (does not allow for differing interpretations)
- Translatable into other languages
- Not legacy encumbered
- Not hidden by abstraction layers
Rests me to say that the UNIX/Linux world isn't the only one suffering from messy and incomprehensible file system layouts - Windows suffers from it just as much.
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