Arch Linux Reinventing the Filesystem Structure?

Unix and Linux has changed, evolved and matured. But there’s one thing that has not changed too much from the very beginnings. And it is something that we probably all take for granted and don’t really think too much about. I can admit, until recently I had not given it much thought. I am referring to the structure of the Unix/Linux filesystem.

I mention Unix because ultimately, that’s where our current filesystem structure originated. It’s a slightly long and complicated story about how we got to where we did today when it comes to the filesystem structure that we today take for granted. It’s actually a very intriguing historical path with many different standards, past and present. And even a brand new draft for a new standard in the making. It’s definitely something I will revisit at a later date at Unixmen. Admittedly, not much has changed over the years as there really has been no reason for major change.

The developers at Arch Linux beg to differ. They’ve taken things in to their own hands and had a go at re-inventing the filesystem structure. Or a small part of it. As of June 2013, the team at Arch Linux merged /sbin and /usr/sbin in to /usr/bin.

This is done through the use of symlinking current packages that reside and install to /sbin or /usr/sbin. Arch Linux developers are urging package maintainers to update their configurations to install to /usr/bin exclusively.

On June 3, 2013 Arch Developer Allan McRae, announced information about the changes implemented. See here for more information

The reasons for the change, as explained here by the developers is quite simple: To keep things within obvious KISS standards. Simplicity. As pointed out, Arch Linux traditionally likes to dump all binaries in to /usr/*, so the new changes are simply the best option for what makes perfect sense. As they believe it makes no sense to have four different directories for binaries and two for libraries, rather than one directory for each, /usr/bin for binaries and /usr/lib for libraries. Yet, it’s very important they maintain the traditional directories to ensure of no package breakages, backward compatibility and to be friendly with other Linux distributions that choose to have things set out a little more traditional.


The changes all seem pretty logically thought out to me and the way they have implemented the changes with minimal disruption is equally impressive.

The real question is, will this change the mentality and way of thinking of opposing Linux distributions or are Arch Linux just leaving themselves out in the cold on this decision?


Let us know what you think. Have the Arch Linux developers made a good decision with the new changes to the filesystem structure?