Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (770 mails)

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Re: [opensuse] Separate /usr?
On 08/14/2012 04:55 AM, Anton Aylward wrote:
Brian K. White said the following on 08/14/2012 03:49 AM:
sco open server put home directories in /usr up until 5.0.5 or 5.0.6 but
that was always a terrible terrible mess. I never tried to create a user
named "lib" on a sco box but I wouldn't be surprised if the system
allowed it and made exactly the mess you are now imagining. I think
there was a system user named "bin" that was not login enabled and had
no home directory defined so that one skates by on technicalities. ;)

And there are many other entries in /etc/passwd ...
Go look.


Early on it wasn't such a problem, as user access and activity was
restricted and *nix was seen as more of a lab curiousity than a
production system. That started changing in the 1980's and
accelerated when Linux 0.99 was released.

Years ago there was a paper at a USENIX or some conference titled "Life
without root".
It showed how many subsystems could be administered without the need for
root. The paper used UUCP and mail as an example. At the time this was
dramatic but now its the way we do it. We see it subtly today in other
ways, there are files and devices owned by, for example, lp.

It works great when implemented intelligently. Otherwise it was a
disaster.

How much like Big Iron and the way Big Iron gets administered do you
want to be?

Traditionally Big Iron had few processes that were closely monitored and
tuned because process creation and inter process communications in the
traditional model; heck even the DEC VAX-VMS that grew up after UNIX and
had Bill Joy battling with Dave Cutler over performance issues between
VMS and VAX-UNIX had lots of static processes because process creation
was expensive. Part of what was revolutionary about UNIX was that
process creation was cheap-cheap-cheap, and so the shell could create
short lived, transient programs that did something simple (and hence
weren't complex and hence could be easily debugged and proved correct)
and combined with pipes by the shell. This was revolutionary. But
there was no way that such ephemeral, evanescent entities could be tuned
the way mainframe programs were, no way that principles of resource
management and optimization and all those other techniques could - or
needed - to be applies.

Tangential trivia: Unix and the ephemeral nature of Unix processes
turned out to be ideal (with some tweaking) for managing telephone
switches and their transient connections.


But, it seems, we're giving up on that.
Many of our models are getting to be more like the traditional mainframe
as versions of UNIX/Linux move in to take over work that was once done
by mainframes.


I would have said more like Windows and it's monolithic
do-everything-under-the-sun style of coding and constant reinventing
of the wheel rather than using what is already there and piping
between tools. Like, why reinvent sed in python? Just build a script
and call sed. Simple, right? There are many existing tools that are
not being used because... Why??? Baffling. And what's starting to
happen: The tools are disappearing, deprecated because people prefer
to reinvent the wheel, do things the hard way, so no one uses them and
when you need them, *they're not there anymore!* I intended to recycle
my old Yggdrasil and Slackware distro CD's but I think I'd better keep
them if just for the tools they have that are beginning to disappear
from current Linux distros.

Been so long since I've even /seen/ a running mainframe or mini I had
forgotten about the mainframe styles. IIRC reinventing the wheel in
mainframes was the norm, perhaps even the gold standard, even outside
of the classroom. DOS and Windows programmers started out in that
environment so it's no wonder Windows has been such a load of mess.
Unfortunately, that mentality is displacing KISS and it's flexibility.

So perhaps we will see delegated authority making use of non root IDs to
do what used to be done by root. "Life without root".

Sounds like Android. And that's fine but root isn't going away. I
hope. Still need someone with godly powers to sort out messes created
by the lesser-privileged.

Windows: "Work harder, not smarter!"
*nix/Linux: "Work smarter, not harder!"
(aka "G***amn lazy programmers!")

jd
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