Configuration file management

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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.

Available software

Included with Portage

Portage ships with one tool in order to help system administrators manage software on the system.

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.

Alternative software

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.

See also

  • CONFIG_PROTECT — contains a space-delimited list of files and/or directories that Portage will protect from automatic modification.
  • savedconfig — a USE flag that preserves the saved configuration files upon package updates.