preferred place for system-wide config files

Doug Barton dougb at
Tue May 18 22:22:29 UTC 2010

On 5/18/2010 2:57 PM, Anonymous wrote:
> Wesley Shields <wxs at> writes:
>> On Tue, May 18, 2010 at 01:21:01PM -0700, Doug Barton wrote:
>>> In the world where PREFIX and LOCALBASE are different, PREFIX cannot be
>>> relied on to exist after the port is installed. Therefore regarding
>>> configuration files that are not installed by the port the thing
>>> installed (for example portmaster) should look for its configuration
>>> files in LOCALBASE.
>> Yes, I agree with this.
> This is ambiguous. Why PREFIX persistence is relevant here when we're
> talking about one port and not about collaboration of several ports?

There are 2 possible circumstances. One is that PREFIX == LOCALBASE, the
other is that they are not the same. In the case where they are the same
(which is far and away the most common) then everything works.

In the case where they are different one cannot guarantee that the
directory referred to by PREFIX will continue to exist after the port is
installed. In the case where they are different PREFIX by its very
nature is ephemeral, and LOCALBASE, again, by definition, is "the local
system." One could potentially imagine a scenario where installing a
port temporarily into a custom PREFIX is desirable, but the user would
still want to get settings and configuration from "the system," which is
defined to be LOCALBASE.

One could also imagine a system on which there is a LOCALBASE and lots
of little PREFIXes, each of which is designed to be an autonomous
semi-system of its own. In that case you would want a tool (like
portmaster) to look for its configuration files in PREFIX. However, this
last example is what we refer to as "an extreme corner case," which is
to say it is not something for which we ought to optimize, and is
potentially not even something for which we would want to make provisions.

Fortunately, portmaster (which is what you initially inquired about in
your PR) already has a facility for dealing with this, the
~/.portmasterrc file. You can of course also maintain your desired
change to portmaster's behavior as a local patch.

Either way, the answer to your question, "What SHOULD portmaster be
doing?" is "Exactly what it is already doing." I'm sorry if you don't
like the answer, but continuing to discuss it is not going to change it.

hope this helps,



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