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Re: Propersel for standerd configuration system.

On Fri, Jun 12, 1998 at 12:23:28AM -0400, Kevin Atkinson wrote:

> One of the major problems with unix is that, for new users, 
> it is a bear to configure.

I definitly agree (and am glad im not one of those "new users"). In fact
most "new things" that one has never configured before take a while
to figure out and do...the upshot however is that you can learn allot
from it.
> It would consist of these parts:

> - A server back end which would manage the master and users
>   registry of configuration

ewww....yuk...gee I wish I hadn't read this right before lunch time
lost my appitite now...
(Read: This "feature" is one of the "Top 10" reasons I switched to linux)

> - An easy to use API in C, C++, Perl, Java, Sh, and just about 
>   another other language that a unix program or script can be
>   written in.

APIs, when well written are always nice to have :)

> The actual data will be store in a binary format that is specific
> to the server.  However the server will be able to export and import
> configurations in a standard text based format.

sounds like a nightmare. Ok lets see...something happnes to the registry..
(maybe it gets deleted or becomes somehow unreadable)...I loose the
configs for EVERYTHING.

Should the registry editor stop working (maybe part of the reg is corrupted,
any reason) I have no recource but to wipe it all out and re-install
(ok....ill just pull out the tape backup...but not everyone has a tape backup 
and I don't enjoy NEEDing to restore)

It would HAVE to be able to fit on a rescue disk (along with all of the 
other tools which already HAVE to be on it) 
> So what do you think of this idea?

As you can see I don't like it. 

I could however see writing a library or some sort of "interface" that programs
can use. This would take the burden of writting a parser and working out the 
more "exact details" of the configuration file off of the designer of the
application, and place it on the library.

This would allow the library to basically do whatyou say (make a database of
configurations and provide and interface for changin gthem) but...it would
also allow the library to do it right (well... RIGHT as in what _I_ think
is right..which is of course right). It could take care of the details of
parsing and writting a config file.

This would put all conifg files ofprograms which use it into a standard format.
The advantages:

1) It would be easier to write programs that configure programs. All they
would have to do is know what variables exist, and what legal values are.
The actual format of the file would eb un-important (I would imaging that 
that is a stu,bling block for writting programs that configure
a wide range of applications as each on emay have a subtly differnt format)

2) It would allow an administrator to repair the system the same as they 
always have.

3) The files all using a standard format would make editing files by hand
easier as one doesn't have to think "Ok...in this file can I use tabs?" (etc)

4) For those who want better performance and don't care about editing by hand 
it would not be a problem to use a binary database instead of
text files.

of course you have to convince everyone that your system is good and worth 
them using in their programs (unless you intend to edit them yourself :) )
but...thats the same for any system.

When trying to decide between two vastly differnt systems of doing things....
always pick niether and steal the best of both ways :)
As for this library...I might even be willing to work on such a thing...
I do wish to experient with config files and parsing etc...


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