Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The case for /export/home

Sun really wants us to place user home directories in /export/home instead of /home, which is the traditional way that even Linux adopts. I know I am sometimes biased towards Solaris but this time I think they actually make sense. Here is the reason: let's say you are going to export the homespace to other machines, say, using NFS. Now, most Unix/Linux installations and programs assume the user account is in /home/user (I know, I know, you can get the path if you ask nicely to the OS, but if you are lazy that is still a good assumption). If you are automounting to a Linux box, you can set your auto.home to put it right where it expects. But, what if someone wants to login to the server machine? Easy: have it automount the shares it is exporting, using its auto_home (yes, Solaris chose to rename that file; do not ask me why. I guess they wanted to be cute), right back to /home! This way, the experience as far as the user is concerned will be the same (path in the prompt will be the same and any code written that unfortunately assumes the absolute path is /home/user will work.

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