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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Much ado about nothing
by leos on Tue 19th Aug 2008 02:38 UTC
leos
Member since:
2005-09-21

This is a complete non-issue. Like aylaa said, the system handles the files outside of home. If a general user has to care, the system is broken. Hell even Windows tries to keep you out of those directories (by displaying warning messages when you open folders like Program Files). If you're a sysadmin, it's really not hard to learn where stuff is. Keeping track of system files is what the computer is good at, let it do that and don't worry about it.

The article claims that "The three letter directory names in UNIX-like operating systems are a relic of the past that should have died out and rotten away a long time ago" but gives no reason for it. /etc is much friendlier than "Documents and Settings" or "Program Files" for the people that actually care (sysadmins and programmers mostly). Hell its 2008 and there are _still_ programs that have trouble with spaces. There probably always will be, and having the main directories without spaces avoids the entire issue. I'm still waiting to hear an actual reason outside of "its ugly".

Reply Score: 8

RE: Much ado about nothing
by jack_perry on Tue 19th Aug 2008 03:06 in reply to "Much ado about nothing"
jack_perry Member since:
2005-07-06

This conversation is starting to sound like the intemperate stamping of feet the hardcore command-line interface users made when GUIs came along, because remembering all those cryptic commands was soooo much easier than point-and-click.

/etc is much friendlier than "Documents and Settings" or "Program Files" for the people that actually care (sysadmins and programmers mostly).


Friendlier to whom? for the home user and budding programmer who'd like to experiment with his system settings? for the starting grad student who needs to type up his thesis? or for the power user who has become accustomed to the status quo and wishes all the n00bs would realize that computers are for grownups?

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Much ado about nothing
by Delgarde on Tue 19th Aug 2008 03:22 in reply to "RE: Much ado about nothing"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

I think the issue is simply "why change?". The article argues that the existing layout is ugly and confusing - but the fact is, it's a subject that shouldn't matter. Calling a directory /Programs instead of /bin might be easier for a user to read, but the kind of user that's aimed at will be running programs from a menu anyway, not by entering a file path.

Changing things is pain (for developers and maintainers even if not the user) for no real benefit...

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Much ado about nothing
by cycoj on Tue 19th Aug 2008 03:29 in reply to "RE: Much ado about nothing"
cycoj Member since:
2007-11-04

This conversation is starting to sound like the intemperate stamping of feet the hardcore command-line interface users made when GUIs came along, because remembering all those cryptic commands was soooo much easier than point-and-click.

"/etc is much friendlier than "Documents and Settings" or "Program Files" for the people that actually care (sysadmins and programmers mostly).


Friendlier to whom? for the home user and budding programmer who'd like to experiment with his system settings? for the starting grad student who needs to type up his thesis? or for the power user who has become accustomed to the status quo and wishes all the n00bs would realize that computers are for grownups?
"

I'd argue friendlier for everyone.

What do you think that programmer, grad student or power user actually want to do? If he wants to manually change some settings remembering that /etc is where system settings are being kept isn't that hard. If he actually wants to try using the cli one day (oh my god the cli!!) He'll be happy that the directory is called /etc and not /Documents\ and\ Settings.
What else would you want to do? Move things around in /usr or /usr/lib? Why? If you have the need to do this, you surely are able to find our what the directories are for before you do.

This whole discussion again sounds like: "I want Unix to be like windows because it so much more user friendly! (because I'm used to the windows way)"
The way the Unix filesystem is set up makes a lot more sense than windows, ever tried to keep your settings on another drive, maybe even switch between 2 different set of system settings? Hell it's already a pain in the ass to keep your user data and settings on a different partition.

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[2]: Much ado about nothing
by leos on Tue 19th Aug 2008 03:34 in reply to "RE: Much ado about nothing"
leos Member since:
2005-09-21

because remembering all those cryptic commands was soooo much easier than point-and-click.


Nice try trying to twist my words. Completely unrelated to what we're talking about.

Friendlier to whom?


I already said, sysadmins and programmers mostly. It's easier to type, and it avoids the issue of programs that choke on paths with spaces (yes, I still routinely encounter those at work).

for the home user and budding programmer who'd like to experiment with his system settings?


If any home user has to touch those settings, the system is broken. Changing the name to something else is not a fix, it's a band aid over a system that should never have forced a casual user into that directory. For a budding programmer, it really is no different. Except that they're going to rip their hair out when their linker gives an error like "Cannot find object c:\Program.obj" because of those paths with spaces in them.

for the starting grad student who needs to type up his thesis?


apt-get install texlive kile (or the equivalent from your favourite GUI frontend). Like I said, if that grad student needs to worry about anything outside of their home directory, the system is broken.

or for the power user who has become accustomed to the status quo and wishes all the n00bs would realize that computers are for grownups?


No, for someone who realizes that keeping track of system files is the system's job, and for someone who has better things to do than micromanage their system. Seriously, this is a non-issue for everyone but those self-professed "power users" coming from windows that are confused by change. No ordinary users could even tell the difference, and shouldn't have to.

Reply Parent Score: 10

RE: Much ado about nothing
by UltraZelda64 on Wed 20th Aug 2008 05:55 in reply to "Much ado about nothing"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

The article claims that "The three letter directory names in UNIX-like operating systems are a relic of the past that should have died out and rotten away a long time ago" but gives no reason for it. /etc is much friendlier than "Documents and Settings" or "Program Files" for the people that actually care (sysadmins and programmers mostly).


Note: I'm not arguing against the person I quoted, I'm merely taking his comment further. Either way, well said to the original poster.

Hah, try the following for fun:

C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
vs...
/etc/hosts

or...

C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\Temporary Files
vs...
/tmp

I know what ones I'd choose. Not to mention, those are the XP locations... previous Windows versions may be in different locations, and even Windows Vista has a modified filesystem layout from XP. Meaning Linux distributions aren't the only operating systems not strictly adhering to a tight "standard" across the family.

Also, just for fun, think of all the different locations user data and application data is stored on a typical Windows installation. Hint: Don't forget the system registry! On UNIX-like systems: mostly /home, with some system-wide data in /etc. Once again, I see simplicity here that Windows just doesn't have.

I could go on all day on the pros and cons of each OS' filesystem layout, but as a longtime Windows user (around ten years) and only a Linux user for the last two or three, my preference would still heavily lean toward the UNIX FHS. Both have their pros and cons, but I don't know how I could go back to not being able to make a nearly full (excluding system files) backup by simply tarring one directory (/home).

Plus, it sure is nice rarely having to leave /home to find some file some program decides to save into some weird directory (ie. Winamp skins go in... C:\Program Files\Winamp?!).

Edited 2008-08-20 06:04 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3