Arch Linux moving back to /usr

I spent hours arguing on Arch Linux’s bugzilla and chats in the past about kde/gnome/xfce/mozilla getting installed on /opt and not on /usr. The Arch Linux approach was to keep things simple and tidy. And I liked that. In fact, I originally supported the idea because ‘I like tidy’ in my computers. But after actually using the system extensively, I found many problems.

Unfortunately, many source tarballs don’t take into account that gnome or mozilla-dev is installed on /opt. And they just don’t compile out of the box, e.g. Mugshot (in the Arch world, users still compile a few apps here and there as the package db is not as extensive as Debian’s). While the bug is on the app developer’s side, the point remains, it makes the life of the Arch user (and the maintainers’) a hell.

Another problem was that if you were just compiling a gtk+ app (without going into the trouble of creating a package) and then installing it in /opt/gnome/, you might find the Arch Linux project providing the same application a few months later down the road via official channels, but installed under /usr. This has created at least 4-5 major inconsistencies and bugs during my 2-year usage of Arch Linux. You just can’t never be sure if an app must be under /opt/gnome/ or /usr (you see, on Arch, gtk and pure gtk apps still go under /usr, only gnome apps go under /opt/gnome). But things are never black and white (especially with apps with optional dependencies), and so there were always such problems. There was never a clear rule of thumb on how to go about it.

After 2 years of arguing to switch to the lesser of the two evils, Arch finally made the right decision for their users and are starting to move the packages back to /usr. It will break lots of things (especially apps compiled by the user in the past), but at least in a few months these problems will be ironed out completely. It was a trial and error thing the way I see it and hopefully the Arch experience will go down in distro history as something to be avoided (if maintainers want fewer headaches that is).


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on April 22nd, 2007 at 8:15 AM PST:

I think I should shoot you, yes. Because I already switched to Ubuntu a month ago. You obviously haven’t read my past blogs, or my reviews of Ubuntu linked from Digg and elsewhere. ;)

Imran wrote on April 22nd, 2007 at 8:12 AM PST:

Would you shoot me if i told you? You should have a look at Ubuntu also :)

stavrosg wrote on April 23rd, 2007 at 8:21 AM PST:

They made it, finally!

I recall JGC’s argument about not moving back to /usr that “it will cause too much breakage and extra work for a marginal benefit”. I guess they found time to do it now.

Anyway, I already left six months ago so it doesn’t affect me at all..

imran wrote on April 23rd, 2007 at 10:37 AM PST:

OK, you can shoot me, but before that make something nice from your recipes collection as i tried some of your recipes and they where very nice. :)

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