[CentOS-devel] rhwas 5 work?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Sat Mar 29 20:35:03 UTC 2008

R P Herrold wrote:
> Two lines of code permit a person ignorant of PATH changes to reach 
> their ill-advised desire;

But giving root a different and confusingly different environment was a 
late and unique branch in history.  And unnecessary.

> altering the operating system, so that the 
> minimal tools needed for recovery from the single '/' partition would be 
> a massive and pervasive changed, and a serious loss.  It is a fool's 
> errand to do so; it has proved a debating society's pigsty to wallow in.

When small disk drives cost $10,000 and most machines could only be 
booted from the vendor-suppied device, there was a reason to care if you 
could boot from a tiny partition.  That reason is long gone but...

That's not the change being discussed.  It is more about combining /sbin 
with /bin and /usr/sbin with /usr/bin - or simply giving everyone the 
same PATH.  There is no sensible reason that a user should wonder why he 
can't run ifconfig to get his IP address, or that root shouldn't be able 
to find fdisk if he used 'su' instead of 'su -' to get there.

> Discarding culture, ignoring history, and faddishly taking away 
> strengths to 'gain share' is the way of vendors and those with an agenda 
> to grind; and not the way of those who live in the Unix culture who need 
> to work in a long lived stable environment.

You should look at the whole history before saying that.  You'll find 
that adding the /sbin and /usr/sbin directories was the faddish move in 
Solaris, probably because they didn't trust their dynamic-linked 
programs and put static-linked utilities there to help recover from 
possible problems.  I'm not sure who had the bright idea of supplying 
different environments to root compared to other users, but I'd bet it 
didn't come from the original and elegantly simple unix versions, and it 
doesn't play well with the current best practice advice to only switch 
to root when needed.   Aside from the PATH nonsense, consider what 
happens when someone is accustomed to the aliases only in root's 
environment accidentally does 'su' instead of 'su -', and wonders why rm 
didn't ask if he really wanted to do that.

If you want people to learn to use unix usefully, you have to expose its 
simplicity consistently, not disguise it differently under different 

   Les Mikesell
    lesmikesell at gmail.com

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