I am running openSUSE Linux, the Tumbleweed version. I discovered that it does not use an /etc/services file, though I do not know what is replacing it, or how it is done, and I do not have much success searching the web.

Actually, what happened to me is that my mail system stopped working correctly after a major system update, both in-mail and out-mail. After much testing and debugging with a more expert user (of other Linux distros), we discovered that the /etc/services file was missing.

Thinking it had been accidentally destroyed, we created a small one to provide at least for the ports used for email. And it did solve my mail problems.

To do things cleanly, I asked another openSUSE Tumbleweed user for his copy of the file as provided in the distribution. But he did not find it in his own system, which has no mail problem. So, it is not necessary.

Apparently, I had solved my problem by accident.

Could someone at least confirm that /etc/services is no longer normally used in this openSUSE Linux. But I would like an explanation of how things are now done, and if possible of why my problem was solved by adding /etc/services, and whether I could solve it without /etc/services.

(reported to the best of my understanding and memory of events)

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    Last thing I've heard that /etc is moving to /usr/etc so a lot things break because of some dependencies/configuration that cannot be done through the update.
    – Jetchisel
    Feb 20, 2020 at 0:27
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    Though incomplete, your comment is worth an answer imho. I just checked on my system, and I do have a very complete services file /usr/etc/services. It is dated from Jan 30, about a week before my last update. It is clear that forgetting the change in some parts of the code (involving in my case smtp, pop2 and pop3) could lead to the behavior I observed. Still, this is so critical that I am surprised I did not find any reference to similar bugs when searching the web. Then, it is also true that Tumbleweed is bleeding edge, which is always a bit risky.
    – babou
    Feb 20, 2020 at 10:13
  • I gave you the info that I have, if it is incomplete then I can't give you anymore answer since I'm not a weed user. Also are you not subscribed in the mailing list for tumbleweed? You should so because tumbleweed is a rolling release not like the stable leap....
    – Jetchisel
    Feb 20, 2020 at 10:17
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    I suggested you change your comment into an answer not as a request for more information, but because I wanted to thank you by voting you up. I am not yet registered with tumbleweed mailing list because I am a fairly new user recently converted to this distro by a friend. Actually my first reaction was to register with SUSE. But for some reason I got into a registration mess involving the site microfocus.com (no idea what they do) and apparently some local paranoia (possibly justified). So I also asked on SE which I am more familiar with.
    – babou
    Feb 20, 2020 at 10:34
  • Here is the lists of mailinglist. lists.opensuse.org and the factory mailing list. which you need to subscribe, https://lists.opensuse.org/opensuse-factory/
    – Jetchisel
    Feb 20, 2020 at 10:58

1 Answer 1


Since Jetchisel will not turn his comment into an answer, I am doing it here, with more details.

Warning: I am not an expert on these issues and this is only to make available whatever understanding I gathered, painfully, as I did not have the right keywords for searching.

As commented by Jetchisel, it seems that in some distros configuration files usually found in folder /etc is being reorganized into two folders /etc and /usr/etc. As I understand it, the purpose is to separate configurations that are being maintained at distro level and configurations maintained by the superuser, so as to minimize conflicts when an installed system is updated.

With a single folder, such conflict are harder to resolve automatically, and updating software may leave the system with two versions of the configuration file foo.conf, which can be the old version used before update together with foo.conf.rpmnew proposed by the update, or alternatively the old version is renamed foo.conf.rpmsave and the name foo.conf is used for the configuration file proposed by the update. The idea is that the superuser with merge the two files in the most appropriate way. See rpmnew and rpmsave on yout favorite search engine.

However, one still need to arbitrate between configuration files, and this is done by the configuration file /etc/nsswitch.conf. My problem was that The distro was updated so that /etc/services became /usr/etc/services. And the change was reflected in /etc/nsswitch.conf.rpmnew, but it was not active, as long as I did not merge it with my old version /etc/nsswitch.conf (but I did not know).

Apparently, if you touch configuration files, it is always wise to check for the appearance of suffixes like .rpmsave or .rpmnew after an update. I am not sure which are the concerned distros. I am using openSUSE Tumbleweed, and otherwise rather happy with it.

References I started from:

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    nscd still searching for /etc/services nscd[738]: 738 checking for monitored file `/etc/services': No such file or directory
    – elbarna
    Nov 23, 2020 at 9:41

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