Thanks for your efforts to make configuring l-h easier.
As a l-h user I do the tar -czvf for configuration archival.
I think that removing the default options form the configuration is
not as easy but perhaps it could be done.
The default options in the configuration serve two purposes:
1) it's the only place where the options are set
- to allow customization you would have to load default options and
then user options
2) documentation of the possible settings and their defaults
- if there was a defaults file you could just look there and copy the
options you wan to change
- perhaps the configuration file should mention the location of the
defaults file in a comment
Merging the various configuration files in a XML file as opposed to a
tar archive has one great advantage - while it's not humanely
possible to write a XML file it is possible to edit it or use a VCS on
it if it has reasonably placed line breaks.
Still XML is only a poor compromise between machine parseability and
human readability. Have you considered something like an INI file? It
has sections and variables, and if you want to store verbatim files
you could perhaps introduce verbatim sections.
Also I think that splitting the configuration into multiple files was
not a good idea in the first place. Every time I want to change a
variable I have to look into 2-3 files before I find it. Just
concatenating the files would keep the related variables together but
you could find the setting you want to change with the search function
of your editor.