These classnotes are depreciated. As of 2005, I no longer teach the classes. Notes will remain online for legacy purposes

UNIX02/Typical Configuration Format

Classnotes | UNIX02 | RecentChanges | Preferences

On most Unix-like systems the typical configuration file is in plain-text format. Additionally, there are many different configuration files each offering a different piece of the overall Unix system configuration.

Example /boot/grub/grub.conf :

 # grub.conf generated by anaconda
 # Note that you do not have to rerun grub after making changes to this file
 # NOTICE:  You do not have a /boot partition.  This means that
 #          all kernel and initrd paths are relative to /, eg.
 #          root (hd0,0)
 #          kernel /boot/vmlinuz-version ro root=/dev/hda1
 #          initrd /boot/initrd-version.img
 title Red Hat Linux (2.4.18-18.7.x)
        root (hd0,0)
        kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.4.18-18.7.x ro root=/dev/hda1  hdd=ide-scsi
        initrd /boot/initrd-2.4.18-18.7.x.img

Advantages to multiple plain-text configuration files

  • Configuration is not hidden! This is perhaps the biggest advantage which is not mentionned in the book.

  • You are in control! When you make a change to a configuration file by hand, you are working as "close to the metal" as any graphical configuration tool ever is, so your changes will usually stay. No application secong guessing you!

  • Ease of application development. You're just dealing with basic text string manipulation.

  • Most configuration files are small and independent. More efficient use of system resources.

  • One corrupted configuration file will not affect other configuration files, and will likely only hinder or harm one specific system service.

  • Use simple text-editors to configure nearly everything your system has to offer.

Disadvantages to multiple plain-text configuration files

  • Multiple and sometimes confusing formats.

  • New programs may not take advantage of existing configuration files. (Though this is nothing unusual: Windows Registry entries can oft times be inaccessible to other applications.)

  • Graphical tool usage and manipulation can be less effective (this argument has become increasingly a moot point).

Classnotes | UNIX02 | RecentChanges | Preferences
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Last edited August 14, 2003 11:14 pm (diff)
(C) Copyright 2003 Samuel Hart
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