"Chatty" config files in /etc

Ruslan Ermilov ru at FreeBSD.org
Wed Aug 30 20:28:22 UTC 2006

On Wed, Aug 30, 2006 at 01:41:51PM -0400, Garance A Drosehn wrote:
> [perhaps this should be continued on freebsd-arch?]
I think this is too simple material for freebsd-arch.  :-)

> At 1:27 PM +0200 8/30/06, Dag-Erling Sm?rgrav wrote:
> >>   Modified files:
> >>     etc                  hosts.allow
> >>   Log:
> > >   Comment out lines that use example addresses and example.com
> > >   names so that local changes can be made more easily (without
> > >   having to comment these lines, and making the diff more
> > >   readable).
> >
> >That reminds me - /etc/hosts is another file that mergemaster often
> >trips over.  The comments and examples it contains should be moved
> >to the appropriate man page(s) if they aren't there already.  In
> >fact, we should probably remove the file from the tree, and just
> >have sysinstall create one at install time.
> I'm sure Ruslan didn't mean to open up this whole can of worms,
> but I also find files like /etc/hosts, /etc/hosts.allow, and
> /etc/pf.conf to be annoying when it comes to system upgrades.
Well, I'm happy to open it in (what seems to be) the right direction
since it also looks very annoying to me.

> They're meant to be helpful, but they're so chatty with comments,
> and they are files that I *always* have to localize with my own
> changes.  It is annoying when it seems like one of these files
> pop up in mergemaster every single time I upgrade, and it's
> almost always due to a change in some line that does not actually
> effect anything.  I mean, I can understand it's useful to correct
> comments in the file, but my already-running system is not going
> to run any differently with the correct comment than the incorrect
> comment.
> I do think those comments and examples are useful, but it might be
> better to move those lines into separate files.  We could move them
> into man pages, but then they won't be available on systems which
> have NO_MAN set.  I also think that for these files, there is some
> advantage in having the info as plain-text files, and not all
> spruced up with nroff commands.  I wonder if it would be better to
> have the comments and examples as files under /etc/defaults.  I
> suppose they could also go under /usr/share/examples, but for these
> files I think there is some advantage that the comments and examples
> be on '/', and not on '/usr'.
> Also, if the comment+example files are under /etc/defaults, then
> changes to them *will* come up in mergemaster.  It's just that
> now they will show up in a file that has no local changes, so
> the user can just read the change, instead of having to "merge"
> all their local changes with the new official version.
I think they should be moved to /usr/share/examples/etc/ (like
make.conf), with files in /etc/ representing good (short) defaults
with a minimum of comments and probably references to examples.
Like no /etc/hosts.allow file at all:

A non-existing access control file is treated as if it were an empty
file. Thus, access control can be turned off by providing no access
control files.

Ruslan Ermilov
ru at FreeBSD.org
FreeBSD committer
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