[H-GEN] CRUX (A programmers linux distro)

Greg Black gjb at gbch.net
Thu Aug 5 03:41:59 EDT 2004

On 2004-08-05, Sandra Mansell wrote:

> See that's where my issue lies. I thought the point of linux was that
> you shouldn't have to constantly reinstall it like some other OSes that
> run in my household.

For many people, the whole point of running reliable systems is
that it should be easy to do fresh installs so that they can be
done whenever new versions come out -- there's no other way to
go for general purpose systems that are exposed to the Internet.

While it's true that I have quite a lot of FreeBSD-4.1 boxes
still running (and even a few 3.x systems), I would certainly
not recommend that as a general procedure.

Software -- particularly the complex software that makes up an
operating system and its utilities and standard applications --
reveals bugs over time.  The bad guys develop exploits for those
bugs and we users just have to upgrade.  A fresh install of the
new release is always the best method, and it can often be the
only workable method.

Well setup systems are organised so that, when the latest OS
upgrade is announced, it's a trivial matter to install it on a
freshly newfs'd disk partition/slice or two and to merge in the
local customisations in places like /etc.  Everybody who wants
to run a reliable system has automatic backups of the various
configuration directories on their systems (e.g., stuff like
/etc, /usr/local/etc, /usr/X11R6/lib/X11, and so on); and they
also use cvs or subversion or arch to manage their customisation
of the system files.

The fresh install takes minutes on most architectures, the local
customisation takes a few more minutes, and then you have a
fresh install working with all your original data and local
utilities still in place.

There is one gotcha in all this -- not all OS vendors make it
easy to get things setup in the way I've advocated here; but
it's just a matter of applying discipline from the start.  You
take a clean box, decide (generously) how much space you're
going to give the OS, do a full install, and note what you've
got.  Then you tweak it to taste and record as you go what you
did (preferably using some kind of version control).  And then
you're all set, so you add your own data and other local stuff
to other partitions on your disk/s and start using your machine
normally.  When upgrade time comes, you pat yourself on the back
for being so well-prepared and just do your upgrade in the form
of a fresh install, followed by a merge of your customisation.

Cheers, Greg

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