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Re: File location differences between Debian and other 'X'nix's?


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On Fri, 24 Sep 1999, John Gay wrote:

>      I chose Debian after carefully reading everything I could find
> and decided that dselect and the .deb format was the better choice.
> One thing still puzzles me, though, being new to UNIX in general.
> Debian seems to put most everything into different places than most
> other 'X'nix's.

Debian tries to follow the FHS. Other *nixes do too, but every
distribution has varying degrees ov compliance.

> This issue came up again for me when I tried to update my sane in a
> valiant attempt to get my USB AGFA scanner working. I am running a
> slink box, and the last time I tried updating a potato package, after
> I updated libg6 to >2.1, my system crashed completely! So, I decided,
> rather than try updating to sane 1.0.1 with the .deb, which would also
> update libg6, I would download the source and compile and install it
> myself. The sane sources installed themselves into completely
> different sub-directories than the old sane was installed in, so my
> system still uses sane 0.74 rather than 1.0.1. Is there some reason
> why Debian uses such vastly different directories for installations?
> Is there a document I should read that would explain the reasoning?

According to the FHS, the distribution management system isn't supposed to
touch the /usr/local hierarchy beyond creating the skeleton directory
structures (e.g. /usr/local/src, /usr/local/bin). So, no Debian package
should ever put something in /usr/local.

User-installed programs are the reason the package management system
should never touch /usr/local. This way, you can install whatever you like
and be sure that the package management won't do a thing to clobber it. If
you install in /usr/bin, you have no such guarantee because that's the
system's domain.

> I had a similar problem when I installed Netscape from there own
> install package, rather than the .deb because I figured that since the
> .deb required downloading the actual programme from netscape, anyway,
> I'd just use there own install routine. Netscape is now installed in
> /usr/local/netscape and I currently just use the command
> /usr/local/netscape/netscape to run it because I haven't figured out
> how to update my menus yet.

Read the update-menus and menufile manpages for starters.

> As you can probably tell, I'm still climbing a very steep learning
> curve right now. But, I've made quite some progress and am very proud
> of the progress I've made. I don't think I would have learned nearly
> as much if I'd chosen an easier distribution like RedHat or OpenLinux.
> I'd just like to know what the reasoning is behind the directory
> layout used by Debian and why most other 'X'nix's seem to use
> completely different layouts?

I think it's one of the great myths that Debian is harder than RedHat.
Each distro has it's hard and easy areas. Those areas may not even be the
same for different people.

Read the FHS (hidden somewhere on the web, it stands for Filesystem
Hierarchy Standars IIRC) for more info. And don't bash RedHat for not
following it, the official rpms do a good job. It's the unofficial ones
that are somewhat problematic...

- -- 
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