Subject: Re: /var/cron -> /etc/cron
To: Gandhi woulda smacked you <>
From: David Maxwell <>
List: current-users
Date: 04/08/1999 00:29:31
On Wed, Apr 07, 1999 at 07:40:51PM -0700, Gandhi woulda smacked you wrote:
> On Wed, 7 Apr 1999, David Maxwell wrote:
> # Mine are in /etc, it's config data. (named stuff)
> I figured it has the potential to grow and is not needed at boot
> time, so it went to /var.  (just remembered why I did that)

So it depends whether people feel /etc should be limited to just
things required at boot time, or is a good central place to keep
config information. (Also, please define boot time for the general
public.. I think I know what you mean, but the devil's advocate
says "I run named at boot time.") 

> # > .../var/yp?
> # I don't use/care about yp, but I suspect it's config data.
> ..and so would belong in /etc, according to your definition.
> Not acceptable, especially for an embedded system.

Do we need to make the default setups all suitable to an
embedded system? Does an embedded system have to have a RO / ?
Couldn't someone symlink it out to somewhere RW if needed?

> # By semi-permanent, I mean that they are not static, like /sbin/init,
> # but are not constantly changing, like /var/spool/mqueue. I find 
> # crontabs to be very much like password file entries. (in terms
> # of comparing properties)
> Still bogus, IMO.

Please describe how you find crontabs different from passwd entries.

> # Here's my question. If a non-Unix person went looking for cron's
> A non-unix person wouldn't know where the hell to find the kernel and
> probably wouldn't understand what /var was for in the first place.
> A minor point in your favour, but I will say, "educate the poor
> fellow/lady".  A non-unix person certainly has no business mucking
> about with crontabs if they haven't been properly instructed at
> the user level on how to use UNIX.

Okay, poorly phrased. I meant a non-unix person who was given a 
basic lowdown on the filesystem hierarchy.

Does anyone disagree that a system is cleaner if similar types
of files are in one place?

> #define SARCASM
> *** why don't we just get rid of /usr/sbin/cron and */cron/tabs
> altogether in the case of embedded systems?
> #undef SARCASM

Or at least consider whether we are trying to tailor the whole
system towards embedability. There are surely design decisions that
have contradictory 'best-fits' for embedded/non-embedded systems.

> # > Alternately, maybe we should just make /etc its own filesystem if we're
> # 
> # I'd like to see how that could work. (sarcasm). Please tell me how
> # /etc/rc* and /etc/fstab would be handled.
> Of course not -- you'd have to mount /etc as a unionfs.

I still don't get it. What does the mount? The Kernel?

> # I haven't seen any explanation for why it was moved from /etc in the
> # first place. Anyone?
> Because it's VARying data which doesn't need to be present at boot time
> in order for the system to run?  (which is why I have named stuff,
> except for resolv.conf, living in /var)

Okay, so what should the hier entry for /var say?

> My take on it was originally that the absolute essential boot configs
> lived in /etc, while the stuff that was only needed once the system
> went multi-user lived in /var.  I still don't understand why we're
> putting *everything* config related into /etc regardless of its
> importance.  Most of it seems harmless enough to put there even though
> it violates the principle of necessity.

I think it's a principle of orderliness that's trying to make some
headway. I still haven't decided which I prefer, but "leave it alone
cause it's there now" doesn't work for me.

> I think I agreed with the move earlier, but I must have been high
> on something, because it makes no sense to me now.  The only advantage
> I can see for moving /var/cron into /etc is that if /var fills up,
> logging stops.  Of course, that could happen with mail, too.

Cron should not be allowed to eat arbitrary sized files. Someone else
(Perry?) said he'd be commiting a patch for that.

> Of course, if size is really a problem, what's preventing one from
> implementing quotas on /var?

Crontabs are owned by root currently.

David Maxwell,| --> Mastery of UNIX, like
mastery of language, offers real freedom. The price of freedom is always dear,
but there's no substitute. Personally, I'd rather pay for my freedom than live
in a bitmapped, pop-up-happy dungeon like NT. - Thomas Scoville