Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Aug 2008 23:33 UTC, submitted by Charles Wilson
Editorial GoboLinux is a distribution which sports a different file system structure than 'ordinary' Linux distributions. In order to remain compatible with the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard, symbolic links are used to map the GoboLinux tree to standard UNIX directories. A post in the GoboLinux forums suggested that it might be better to turn the concept around: retain the FHS, and then use symbolic links to map the GoboLinux tree on top of it. This sparked some interesting discussion. Read on for more details.
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Do we care? Really?
by jaylaa on Tue 19th Aug 2008 00:47 UTC
jaylaa
Member since:
2006-01-17

I've been using Linux for several years now, and I'm past the stage where I like to tinker around just for fun. Now, I just use it to do work. And play. And guess what? I almost never find myself in parts of the filesystem besides my home directory.

I don't care where the package manager puts stuff. As long as an entry shows up in the applications menu. In fact, I just don't care about the structure much at all. And a lot of other future Linux users will be the same.

If developers feel something needs to be improved about the filesystem hierarchy, if its hindering forward progress, then by all means, improve it. But saying that it needs to be changed because its confusing to "regular" users is silly, IMO.

Reply Score: 14

RE: Do we care? Really?
by ari-free on Tue 19th Aug 2008 01:16 in reply to "Do we care? Really?"
ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

this is the general theme with unix. It's great either for those who have no problem with grep and awk on the one hand or total newbies who are satisfied with the apps that come with ubuntu but the problems begin once you get a bit beyond that. It's either for newbies or total hard core and no in between.

Edited 2008-08-19 01:21 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 9

RE: Do we care? Really?
by Delgarde on Tue 19th Aug 2008 01:46 in reply to "Do we care? Really?"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

I agree - it seems to me that anyone who actually cares about the filesystem layout should be able to learn it easily enough. And anyone who doesn't care, shouldn't have to. My home directory contains a Documents folder, a Music folder, a Photos folder, etc. From the GUI, that's all I ever need to use... I never need to worry about the difference between /bin and /sbin and the like, because I never see them unless I drop to the command line.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE: Do we care? Really?
by jack_perry on Tue 19th Aug 2008 02:53 in reply to "Do we care? Really?"
jack_perry Member since:
2005-07-06

We care once we have to install new fonts to LaTeX and somehow figure out that these are installed in /usr/share/texmf/fonts/... or something similar. Moreover, since that directory is protected against ordinary users, you have to have sudo access. Good luck if you're not the administrator and he thinks he has more important things to do than install your font.

Of course there are ways around this BUT the point is that it makes for an incredible hassle. If your system simply had a user-accessible virtual directory named "/fonts", and you could simply drag and drop your font there and have it instantly accessible to every program in the system because the system would by itself determine where you had permission to place the font, that would be preferable.

So I care.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Do we care? Really?
by intangible on Tue 19th Aug 2008 03:28 in reply to "RE: Do we care? Really?"
intangible Member since:
2005-07-06

You almost have that now. If you drop files in your .fonts/ directory in your home folder... most newer apps will pick those up right away if they're TTF.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE[2]: Do we care? Really?
by Gunderwo on Tue 19th Aug 2008 04:50 in reply to "RE: Do we care? Really?"
Gunderwo Member since:
2006-01-03

Allowing a regular user to install anything that can be used by other users is a security concern.

For example, imagine there was a security bug in the font rendering library and someone has created a font that exploits that security bug to scan all accessible files for a user and look for Credit Card numbers. If you allow any user to install a global font every other user on the system can be affected, however if a user can only install fonts for themselves then only they can be affected.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE[2]: Do we care? Really?
by DrillSgt on Tue 19th Aug 2008 07:05 in reply to "RE: Do we care? Really?"
DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

"We care once we have to install new fonts to LaTeX and somehow figure out that these are installed in /usr/share/texmf/fonts/... or something similar. Moreover, since that directory is protected against ordinary users, you have to have sudo access. Good luck if you're not the administrator and he thinks he has more important things to do than install your font."

Well, actually, to use your example, fonts can be installed in the home directory without SysAdmin interference.

We usually do not "think" we have more important things to do btw, as our job is to make sure the network and servers are up and running. You can install your font without issue on any major linux distro, by yourself, without assistance and without hacks.

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[2]: Do we care? Really?
by eudoxos on Tue 19th Aug 2008 09:51 in reply to "RE: Do we care? Really?"
eudoxos Member since:
2006-08-30

TeX directory structure has nothing to do with UNIX layout: it uses kpathsea to locate files (by filename, not directory) wherever they are, once they are added to the kpathsea ls-R database.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Do we care? Really?
by hobgoblin on Tue 19th Aug 2008 14:14 in reply to "RE: Do we care? Really?"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

last time i checked the fonts dir on gobolinux is /Files/Fonts...

but i admit, i have had no reason so far to install additional fonts...

Edited 2008-08-19 14:15 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Do we care? Really?
by Decius on Tue 19th Aug 2008 03:23 in reply to "Do we care? Really?"
Decius Member since:
2006-01-03

In a world where we could guarantee that everything we do (or try to do) with our computers will work out just fine, we wouldn't care. We, however, do not live in such a world, and even experts can bork-up there systems. This is why backups are so essential. There are times, though, when replacing a messed-up drive or partition with an image is just plain overkill, especially in the *nixes, where with a little help and some reading, it is possible for even relative noobies to fix a lot of problems without even needing to reboot...IF they can find things. This is why the FSH needs a revamp to a more consistent and common-sense model, for the sake of users and those who must support them.

P.S. Before the usual replies start coming back that 'people aren't ready or interested in diving deeper into their computers'. Let me tell you I am a computer technician who specializes in custom intalls on all manners of hardware, and educating new users. My main customer base is 50 years old and up, and brand new at computing. Many still find the mouse to be an object of hate, as they find it difficult to get used to. I have, of course, installed various Windows, but I have also successfully gotten them to use PC-BSD, Ubuntu, Mandriva (when it was Mandrake), and even gotten a few to use BeOS 8^) They have all been able to learn, and more or less to take care of their own machines. If they call for support, I can tell them to got to /home/apps, or /etc, or ..\Documents and Settings\... or whatever, and they will fix their own boxes. So, yes, I am speaking from real world experience.

Edited 2008-08-19 03:31 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Do we care? Really?
by leos on Tue 19th Aug 2008 03:40 in reply to "RE: Do we care? Really?"
leos Member since:
2005-09-21

We, however, do not live in such a world, and even experts can bork-up there systems. This is why backups are so essential. There are times, though, when replacing a messed-up drive or partition with an image is just plain overkill, especially in the *nixes, where with a little help and some reading, it is possible for even relative noobies to fix a lot of problems without even needing to reboot...IF they can find things.


If your problem is finding things, you probably don't know how to fix any significant problems

They have all been able to learn, and more or less to take care of their own machines. If they call for support, I can tell them to got to /home/apps, or /etc, or ..\Documents and Settings\... or whatever, and they will fix their own boxes. So, yes, I am speaking from real world experience.


So what's the problem? You're telling them where to go anyway. Whether you're saying etc or Documents and Settings is irrelevant. At least on the Linux filesystem you can backup your home directory and bring all your files and program settings with you. Good luck doing that on windows filesystem layout., without a dedicated backup app.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Do we care? Really?
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 19th Aug 2008 05:08 in reply to "Do we care? Really?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

If developers feel something needs to be improved about the filesystem hierarchy, if its hindering forward progress, then by all means, improve it. But saying that it needs to be changed because its confusing to "regular" users is silly, IMO.


It IS hindering forward progress. I'm an advanced user, and I want the ability to run multiple version of the same program side-by-side. I WANT to test out if that new version of Evolution really does fix more bugs than it introduces. I WANT to see if that new version of Gaim fixes a certain pet bug without breaking ten other things. In Linux, I can't do this.

I'm an advanced user, and when I look at the FSH, I still think "what the f--k is that about?". The argument that advanced users "should just learn how the FSH works" is completely nonsensical. It would be better if the standards put forth by the FSH were actually adhered to, but seeing every distribution just does whatever the hell pleases them anyway doesn't make it any easier. So, just because I'm an advanced user, I have to learn all the distribution-specific exceptions, and invest my extremely precious time in doing so?

Just because I'm an advanced user does not mean I do not want logic, structure, and cleanliness. The FSH doesn't give me any of those.

Edited 2008-08-19 05:19 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE[2]: Do we care? Really?
by Kroc on Tue 19th Aug 2008 06:02 in reply to "RE: Do we care? Really?"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

I would have to question a software environment where it's essentially difficult to trust updates because of breakage - and thus having to actually design according to that.

That's like building cars so badly that they break often but instead of making them more reliable, just make them cheaper and disposable so that you can walk across the street and jump in a new car if your one breaks down.

I prefer an OS where installing an update is a non-issue, automatic even, because the OS is designed and built in a way that lets developers ship reliable updates.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Do we care? Really?
by JMcCarthy on Tue 19th Aug 2008 08:53 in reply to "RE: Do we care? Really?"
JMcCarthy Member since:
2005-08-12


It IS hindering forward progress. I'm an advanced user, and I want the ability to run multiple version of the same program side-by-side. I WANT to test out if that new version of Evolution really does fix more bugs than it introduces. I WANT to see if that new version of Gaim fixes a certain pet bug without breaking ten other things. In Linux, I can't do this.

This has nothing to do with the existing file system standard, and everything to do with the distributitions package management system. If you were an advanced users you'd know this.

Many distributions already offer such functionality, especially in the form of libraries. all that needs to be done is to append a trailing version number and perhaps a utility which creates a symlink to the desired version.

You could just go /usr/local/ if your distro doesn't provide just functionality.

I thank God everday I use an operating system where I'm largely unaffected by the ideas of weiners. ;)

Edited 2008-08-19 08:55 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Do we care? Really?
by ichi on Tue 19th Aug 2008 10:24 in reply to "RE: Do we care? Really?"
ichi Member since:
2007-03-06

I'm an advanced user, and I want the ability to run multiple version of the same program side-by-side. I WANT to test out if that new version of Evolution really does fix more bugs than it introduces. I WANT to see if that new version of Gaim fixes a certain pet bug without breaking ten other things. In Linux, I can't do this.


I can, either using slots or installing programs on my home directory. I've been running firefox2.x and 3 side by side for some time now on my laptop, and I have different versions of several programs and libraries installed together on my pc at home.

For stuff like gaim I'd rather quickpkg the installed version and upgrade. Reverting to the previous one is a matter of seconds.

Reply Parent Score: 2