More on Linux FHS and /var

January 16, 2011

Through my Referer logs, I stumbled over this reply to my earlier entry on the FHS, which points out /srv as the answer to my criticisms. However, as the author of it notes:

[...] Then again I haven't seen any package management that does something to /srv [...]

Well, yeah. That's the problem; no one uses it. The FHS in theory might include /srv to deal with my exact criticisms, but it doesn't in practice because no one uses it. This is more than a matter of semantics and a little bit of configuration annoyance; as a commentator on my SELinux entry noted sort of indirectly, people have built software that assumes you are following the in-real-life FHS and thus are putting your data in the duly designated places in /var.

This points out my ultimate problem with the FHS and people assuming that it is always right: these people build software that requires you to follow the FHS without pausing to find out if people actually follow the FHS in real life and if the decisions that the FHS mandates actually make sense. When I don't follow the FHS for various good reasons, this software blows up in my face and makes me grumpy until I turn it off.

(I'm sure that there's people following the FHS and putting real data in /var; it's the path of least resistance, machines these days have huge disks anyways, and if you don't have that much data and you don't have significant infrastructure, you don't really care about these issues. I'll admit that we have some machines set up that way for exactly that reason.)

Update: I've been both unclear and somewhat too extreme here. See the comments for details.

Written on 16 January 2011.
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Last modified: Sun Jan 16 23:47:32 2011
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