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Re: /etc/profile should include sbin in PATH

On Wed, Jan 05, 2000 at 03:59:35PM -0500, Brian Mays wrote:

> You are the one proposing a change that will make us different from
> other Linux distributions (assuming that they follow the FHS or
> FSSTND), GNU coding practices, and BSD practices.  As far as I know
> (and please correct me if I'm wrong), the other Linux distributions
> and *BSDs all contain /sbin and /usr/sbin with such system binaries,
> and they do not include these directories in the default path for
> ordinary users.  (I just checked on an OpenBSD machine, and it has
> its version of ifconfig in /sbin.)
So?  As long as we keep the bins in the "right place", who cares if
our system is more useful out of the box?  The original idea wasn't to
change the location of the bins, but to put in something that will be
very convenient for a lot of people.

> There already exist standards documents explaining the rationale
> behind these directories.  I know that you do not find their
> arguments convincing, but I'm afraid that if you are going to
> convince us to disregard these standards and ignore the recommended
> way of doing things, then you need a better argument.  The only
> thing that you've demonstrated to me is that you have a pet peeve
> against sbin.
We aren't talking about "ignoring standards".  Stop the FUD.

> Programmers will write their own programs, and therefore, will likely
> want to run executable files in the current directory.  Unfortunately
> for them, however, the default path does not contain ".", the current
> directory.  And since it is awkward and painful to place a "./" in front
> of their programs every time they want to test them, they usually modify
> their path to include ".". Surely, you do not want to suggest that all
> users' paths contain "." by default, do you?

Straw man argument.  There are good security reasons not to do this.

> Besides, we are not forcing anything on anybody.  If the programs in
> the sbin directories were made executable *only* by root, then I
> would agree that things need to change, but that is not the case.
> Any user can add the sbin directories to his path.  It is also easy
> to add an alias ifconfig=/sbin/ifconfig.  Why do you consider this
> to be so difficult?
Why is it so difficult for you to take sbin out of your path if you
don't want it?  While we may not be 'forcing' anyone to do anything,
we are indeed implicitly suggesting that the ordinary user has no
business in the sbin's, which a lot of people have contradicted.

> Personally, I find your arguments about the poor, suffering
> programmers who must search aimlessly for ifconfig and traceroute to
> be unconvincing.  They address an annoyance that is easily fixed and
> which I'm sure most people on this list could care less about.  They
> are hardly a reason to abandon the recommend standard and common
> practice.

The "standard" is the two sbin directories.  I don't think that there
is really a standard PATH, other than just a sort of default.  But who
says that Debian has to use everyone else's poorly chosen default from

>From an engineering point of view, it's better to fix something once,
in the point where the fix will be beneficial to the most people,
instead of making everyone fix it individually.

  David N. Welton -+- davidw@prosa.it -+- http://www.efn.org/~davidw  

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