Atomic updates and configuration files in /etc
2019-09-20, 09:45–10:25, Cage

Atomic Updates and user modified configuration files in /etc often lead to hard to resolve conflicts. In this talk, I want to show the most common and biggest problems and possible solutions.


More and more Linux Distributors have a Distribution using atomic updates to update the system. They all have the problem of updating the files in /etc, as an admin could do changes after the update but before the reboot to activate the updates. But everybody come up with another solution which solves their usecase, but is not generic useable. Additional there is the "Factory Reset" of systemd, which no big distribution has really fully implemented today. A unique handling of /etc for atomic updates could also help to convince upstream developers to add support to their applications, while currently they hesitate to add distribution specific patches and support.

During this talk, I will describe the different areas of problems and possible solutions. The goal is to provide a concept working for all Linux Distributors (like the FHS). My dream is, that no package installs anything in /etc, it should only contain changes made by the system administrator or configuration files managed by the system administrator.

For some problems, it would be already enough today if Linux distributors would adjust the configuration of applications or use all features of them. Other requires minimal to intrusive changes to packages, and for the last kind complete new concepts are necessary.