Configuration file management
Managing configuration files is a key skill in system administration. Updated configuration files for core system software suites occasionally ship with new software releases. When available via a package upgrade, the newly updated configuration files from upstream will need to be reconciled with existing local configuration files in a sane manner.
If the system administrator has not modified the existing local configuration files, then generally newer files can be 'clobbered' (overwritten) over older versions. Things become a little more complicated when existing configuration files are modified beyond their original content, and a newer file contains changes that should be merged into the original. That is where configuration management systems become helpful.
Included with Portage
Portage ships with two tools in order to help system administrators manage software on the system.
- etc-update is the older of two configuration file management tools included with Portage. Usage detail can be found on in Portage tools#etc-update section of the handbook.
- dispatch-conf is the primary and default configuration file management tool in Gentoo. Usage detail can be found on in Portage tools#dispatch-conf section of the handbook.
- An alternative to the default config file management tools deployed with Portage. cfg-update includes an integrated backup system which does not require an external version control system.