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01 November 2011, 14:31

Fedora considers moving all binaries to /usr/bin/

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Fedora logo Fedora Project developers are proposing to move all executable files and libraries used by them to the /usr/ directory from Fedora 17 onwards and essentially dispensing with /bin/, /lib/, /lib64/ and /sbin/. Fedora 17 is due for release in May 2012. The change would mean that virtually all operating system components would be stored on one volume/partition, optionally mounted as read-only, which could be used by multiple computers simultaneously. It would also simplify the creation of snapshots. Snapshots allow the restoration of a previous file system state following installation of an update which proves problematic.

As part of the proposal, the distinction between /bin/ and /sbin/ and between /usr/bin/ and /usr/sbin/ would be dissolved and all executable files would be stored in /usr/bin/. The sbin directories have traditionally been reserved for tools aimed at system administrators. In many distributions, however, this directory has long contained programs which perform tasks which are also of use to normal users. As a result, Fedora and some other distributions have added /sbin/ and /usr/sbin/ to the default path, with the result that many users are no longer aware of the distinction.

The feeling is that the division of binaries and libraries between directories in / and /usr/ is also now unnecessary and confusing, since programs residing in directories such as /bin/ and /sbin/ were located there in order to mount a /usr/ directory offering greater capacity – including where required remotely. Initramfs is, however, now in a position to take care of mounting /usr/ from a local disk or remotely. Symbolic links in /bin/ and /sbin/ ensure backwards compatibility.

The proposal aims to make the traditional Unix file system structure simpler and more flexible. The idea was discussed extensively on the Fedora mailing list last week. One of the developers behind the proposal has since posted a further summary of the major arguments in favour of the change. Whether or not the proposal will be acted upon will be decided by the relevant Fedora committee at some time in the next few weeks.

The Fedora Project is currently busy finishing off Fedora 16. A third release candidate was released for testing this morning. According to a status report, no major outstanding problems are known, and as long as no new problems crop up, the new version of Fedora should be released on schedule next Tuesday.


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