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I installed the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.6 on a client system today. If it is of any concern, it's running on the bare metal. After the installation was completed, I did ls -ltr / and it showed a complete list along with dates of files and folders. To my surprise, the dates mentioned there are some time in the past, way before I started the installation.

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Can someone clarify on what's going on here?

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Question on superuser has apparently been removed. –  mdpc Dec 4 '12 at 19:27
1  
Gah! Don't post screenshots unless you have to. This calls for a copy-paste of the ls output. –  Gilles Dec 4 '12 at 23:40

1 Answer 1

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Files managed by your package management are put there by extracting these packages. Effectively, these packages are just archives (cpio format for RPM, ar for DEBs). By extracting these files, the modification date is preserved, just as would happen when you create a ZIP file and extract them on a later time.

The date you're seeing is the time the packages were built, would be my best guess.

On Fedora most basic filesystem directories like /bin are provided by the filesystem package apparently:

# yum whatprovides /bin
filesystem-3.1-2.fc18.x86_64 : The basic directory layout for a Linux system

This is probably also valid for CentOS/RHEL, but I have no access to such a machine to actually verify that.

On Debian/Ubuntu this leads to numerous packages - directories can be in multiple packages there. I guess it will then depend on the package that first created it. The order of which packages were installed are managed by the installer you run.

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Well thats what I thought. Lets wait what others have to say. –  OmiPenguin Dec 4 '12 at 14:31
    
@UM - huh what is your belief? –  mdpc Dec 4 '12 at 19:28
    
@mdpc To make sure that Him and I are correct i simply run the command on Centos and it also shows the old dates although the server was installed just days back. And my doing Google it also tells that it is the creation date of a file or directory. –  OmiPenguin Dec 5 '12 at 6:21

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