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Re: /etc/profile should include sbin in PATH

> On Mon, Dec 27, 1999 at 10:06:49PM -0500, Brian Mays wrote:

> > Thus, ifconfig's own documentation appears to state that ifconfig is
> > an administrator's tool.  Indeed, I think that you are too focused
> > on classifying a tool as "useful for ordinary users" if there is
> > even a remote possibility that it might be run by an ordinary user.

On 3 Jan 2000, moth@debian.org (Raul Miller) added:

> ifconfig has uses for an ordinary user.  It's manual page does not
> suggest any alternative program which the user should have in their
> path instead.

    [ ... ]

> How about focusing on what people *do* run?

I think that your definition of "ordinary user" is different from
mine.  When I sit down to work on a Unix system that I don't own,
administer, or have administrative access to (e.g., my Unix accounts
at my university), I should be able to get my work done without much
knowledge about the system other than some general knowledge of the
software available.  I should not need to figure out how the system is
configured.  If I do, then the system administrator isn't doing his job.
If I am such a user (which I have defined as an "ordinary user"), I
should not need to know anything about Linux networking and I should not
need to know how ifconfig works at all, since ifconfig performs only two
tasks: configuring the network interfaces and displaying their status.

Of course, this is the ideal case.  Depending on the type of work that
I am doing, it is quite possible that I would need to use ifconfig;
however, every idealization has its exceptions.  Nevertheless, the ideal
case provides something to reason with, and I think that using it to
make decisions is better than using some sort of software popularity

> > If a user periodically needs to perform such administrative tasks
> > under his user account, he can modify the path on that account.

> (1) The FHS suggests that the user should not have to change his path.

The FHS also explicitly states that ifconfig should go in /sbin.
Obviously, according to your reasoning, the FHS is wrong in one way or

> (2) Many (most?) debian systems are single user machines.

True.  But that fact doesn't stop us from distinguishing between a Unix
user and a Unix administrator with regards to anything else, does it?
On such systems, the single user will also be the administrator and
perform administrative tasks frequently.  Therefore, he should probably
have /sbin and /usr/sbin in his PATH.  This is not a violation of how I
read the FHS, since this user does not fit my definition of "ordinary

> Why is it a good idea to distribute a system which consistently
> requires the same change from many (most?) users?

The Debian install process builds a normal user account (the first
user's account, usually user ID 1000), which we can safely assume is
the user account for the main system administrator. Perhaps the Debian
install process should offer to stick /sbin and /usr/sbin in the path of
this user's account, since he will most likely want to run commands in
these directories rather frequently.  This would fix the problem for all
single user machines.


P.S.  Raul - I hope you get well soon.

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