Alternate Installation Prefixes [Was: Re: Gnome-2.28.0 build notes -- Compatability Symlinks]

Bruce Dubbs bruce.dubbs at
Sat Oct 24 20:31:32 PDT 2009

Wayne Blaszczyk wrote:

> This would be my preference as well, but after reading all the other
> emails, I can see the need to keep the alternative prefix option. There
> are three reasons why I use /usr, one, I like everything that is part of
> my base system to be under /usr, two, I could not see myself having two
> versions of anything, and thirdly, it eliminates most of these prefix
> problems. If I had my way, I would even get rid of the /etc/gnome/<ver>
> prefix which has also caused some grief , but have comprised and left it
> so that I can contribute to this project. I don't see the developers
> ever fully supporting an alternative prefix installation unless there
> was a mandate placed on the GNOME project to do so. I can also see the
> problems faced from the developers point of view. If you take the
> extreme example of someone installing every package in it's own unique
> directory, as a developer you would have to have a prefix option for
> almost every dependency that that package would use, and that in itself
> would be a nightmare to test or maintain. The above scenario would also
> lead to having multiple locations of where icons could be found. Would
> it then become the duty of the developer to allow for multiple icon
> locations, or the duty of the installer/builder to be a bit more
> sensible and have a single location for icons i.e. use the same prefix?
>    I think this also shows the importance of standards.

The fundamental issues are that binaries need to be found on the PATH and 
libraries need to be found via or LD_LIBRARY_PATH.  But these are 
system issues.  The only real issue is where to find auxiliary files like icons 
or other system files.  User files are ine $HOME/userid/.whatever.

How hard is it for a developer to look for system configuration files in 
--sysconfdir?  The answer is "not hard".  In fact, not using it is inconvenient 
for some users.  One of the main philosophies of Unix is that the user knows 
better than the developer.  Forcing a special location is either arrogance or 
ignorance by the developer.

Finding support files should be done by looking in:

1.  A location specified by an environment variable
2.  A location coded via a configure setting
3.  A predefined, hard coded, location.


   -- Bruce

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