[rescue] NetBSD /etc and sundry things, was Re: DEC keyboards

Charles Shannon Hendrix shannon at widomaker.com
Fri Nov 17 11:54:48 CST 2006

Thu, 16 Nov 2006 @ 23:45 -0500, der Mouse said:

> degree in many respects.  For example, code could be basically MI
> except that it breaks badly on big-endian arches.  Or on 64-bit arches.
> Or those with separate address spaces for kernel and user.  Or....

Going to non-PC architecture was a big help for Linux, and led them to
all kinds of improvements.

Ironically, it was a focus on big iron Linux that brought the biggest
improvements for the desktop.

> More a matter of emphasis.  I saw it as a shift from being a research
> and development system to being a production system (this wording is
> because it could very well be that NetBSD never actually changed its
> focus, and I had instead misread its focus).  

That's interesting, because I originally went to NetBSD in the early 1.x
days specifically because I saw them as being more focused on doing real
work and production than the other free UNIX projects.

> To pick the specific example that tore it for me, when they split up
> /etc/rc, they eased mechanized sysadminning at the price of
> complicating manual sysadminning.  

To me this was a huge *decrease* in the complication of manual system
administration. The old BSD /etc was very messy, a hack from the 80s
that needed to be replaced.

The way I see it the new /etc in NetBSD and FreeBSD gives you all the
benefits of SysV, but doesn't suck, and is even easier to maintain by
hand now.

> (Split-up rc does ease some manual tasks, but only for tasks it
> specifically anticipates.  Sort of a "when we want you to tinker with
> that we'll give you a setting for it" attitude.)

NOTE: Since on this list stating the obvious seems to be necessary at
times, my comments are not meant to talk you into anything or say that
you are wrong, I'm just talking about how I view things.

You are referring to /etc/rc.conf I believe, which is used to turn
subsystems on an off, and set some basic parameters.

This is just a convienience, I don't see it stopping you from tinkering.
In fact, I think it makes tinkering easier because it gives you an
entry into the /etc system and you gain dependency graphics and
start/stop/restart abilities almost for free.

In fact, it is when I am tinkering or doing research that I most use
those features.

If you don't like it, you can always turn things off in /etc/rc.conf,
and go back to the old method, since it is still supported.

I can't remember offhand, but there are hooks to let you do your own
thing in there just like you used to.

To me NetBSD and FreeBSD /etc is a huge step forward because if gives
you most of the benefits of SysV, but does so without the horror,
ugliness, and suckiness of SysV.

> I run my home machines because I enjoy tinkering with them.  Modern
> NetBSD is not that much fun to tinker with any longer; there are too
> many layers of "we're going to give you this slick-looking UI to do the
> things we think you should want to do; don't bother your pretty little
> head about what's going on under the hood, because we know better than
> you how you should run your system".  

I'm pretty much lost here, because I can't find what you are talking

I run 1.6.2 in production, and I've tinkered with 2.x, and I never saw
anything remotely like this.

Did this happen in version 3.x?  

I can't find anything like that in the documentation for 3.x either.

I feel like I must have completely missed a major revolution in NetBSD.

> Since the sort of setup they're
> optimizing for is relatively common, it's still a fine system for lots
> of applications - indeed, at $DAYJOB we run modern NetBSD on most of
> our infrastructure machines, and I think it's a right choice.

Well, I guess this just shows how wildly different people's views can

I have almost the complete opposite view, as I see the new system as
optimized for nothing in particular, I don't see it being "turnkey" at
all, and I see its improvements as at least partially geared toward
asssisting research, tinkering, and customization.

> But tinkering by someone like me is something they will cheerfully
> sacrifice to be better suited to someone who just wants a turnkey box
> to run DNS - or Apache - or MySQL - or whatever - on.  And they've done
> so, repeatedly, to the point where the inappropriateness of sticking
> with a 6.5-year-old system is less than the inappropriateness of trying
> to continue doing what I so love on -current.

Nothing wrong with that if you want it.

That's the great thing about systems like this: no one is forcing you to
upgrade, and you have a good change with UNIX of being able to run older
systems with few problems.

By contrast, it is nearly impossible to maintain an old Windows

shannon "AT" widomaker.com -- ["All of us get lost in the darkness,
dreamers turn to look at the stars" -- Rush ]

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