Take the 2-minute tour ×
Unix & Linux Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems.. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Ok this may not be a very concrete question, and is perhaps subject to taste, yet I'm struggling to get this right so here it goes.

I have a computer. This computer has linux on it (thank god). Arch Linux to be specific (with awesome wm). I am the single user on this computer.

As to good practice I've set up two users: the root user and the everyday use romeovs user. This way I only use permissions when needed (using sudo for example).

Over the years I have been pimping out my software suite, adding a bunch of applications to this computer. Notably: vim, git, mpc, mutt, calcurse, ufw, ...

Now here is the rub: which of these applications' config files do I use? All of these supply an /etc-based global configuration file, that affects all users, as well as a local ~/.config (or, sadly, ~/) config options.

I've always worked using the local configuration setups, because this felt more natural. But as I grow more familiar with my computer, I feel this somehow lacks elegance. The contra's to this approach are:

  • dicrepancy when switching to root user, even with sudo (e.g. when using vim)

  • will not always work, e.g. when loading deamons from the arch linux DEAMONS array they are run by the root user and thus don't pick up local user configs.

  • major $HOME directory clutter. Sadly there are very few apps that adhere to the $XDG_CONFIG_HOME philosophy.

Benefits are:

  • stuff is local, which feels more in the lines of the permissions splitting between root and romeovs.

  • quick and easy acces to the files. no need to sudo to edit them.

  • easier for git tracking of the config files.

  • somehow feels safer: a user can screw stuff up without messign with the machine's global settings.

  • it is more "a-package-update-may-overwite-my-config"-proof

Let's get conrete:

What is the de-facto standard to split configuration on a single user machine, especially for the system maintainer (single-user)?

share|improve this question
    
Maybe etckeeper can help you - it tracks config files in /etc using git (or hg, darcs, `bzr´). –  fheub Jun 5 '12 at 11:30
    
I've tried that, but I prefer managing it mysefl with git. This is not the main problem though. It is about what is the 'right' thing to do. –  romeovs Jun 5 '12 at 11:39
add comment

1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

One day you're going to change your computer, or to give someone else (a family member, for example) an account on your computer.

  • If you want to keep a setting on your next computer, put it in your home directory.
  • If the other person might want a different setting, put it in your home directory.
  • If the setting is computer-dependent and not user-dependent, put it in /etc.

Your arguments against putting configuration files in the home directory don't really hold water:

  • sudo keeps the HOME environment variable (unless you've told it not to). So your programs will keep reading their settings from your home directory.
  • Daemons are not supposed to read your personal settings. Daemons are normally configured through files in /etc, not through environment variables or through files in your home directory.
  • $HOME is supposed to have a lot of dot files. That's why ls doesn't show them.
share|improve this answer
    
I would like to ba able to easily switch to a new computer indeed. I thought putting all in $HOME would help me do that, but a recent pc crash has shown otherwise. Surely all my local files were easily put back (git+dropbox) but I had to fiddle a lot with the /etc stuff anyways to get everything right. That's why I had the idea to put everything in /etc and keep better track of that (again, using git). I geuss I'll keep it the way it is, in $HOME, although I lament the clutter of the home dir (XDG!!!). –  romeovs Jun 5 '12 at 8:39
    
Keeping config files under /home also facilitates (a) reinstalling Linux (if you have /home in a separate partition/volume, which you really should), (b) running multiple distributions and keeping your files available to all. As for /etc security, back up your computer regularly and you won't have issues. Dropbox counts if you don't mind the privacy/security considerations (/etc/shadow on the internet? The horror) –  Alexios Jun 5 '12 at 9:18
    
@romeovs I've been using etckeeper to manage /etc since it appeared on the scene. –  Gilles Jun 5 '12 at 18:30
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.