dispatch-conf is a tool that aids in merging the ._cfg0000_<name> files. ._cfg0000_<name> files are generated by Portage when it wants to overwrite a file in a directory protected by the CONFIG_PROTECT variable.
With dispatch-conf, users are able to merge updates to their configuration files while keeping track of all changes. dispatch-conf stores the differences between the configuration files as patches or by using the RCS revision system. This means that if someone makes a mistake when updating a config file, the administrator can revert the file to the previous version at any time.
When using dispatch-conf, users can ask to keep the configuration file as-is, use the new configuration file, edit the current one or merge the changes interactively. dispatch-conf also has some nice additional features:
- Automatically merge configuration file updates that only contain updates to comments.
- Automatically merge configuration files which only differ in the amount of whitespace.
Edit /etc/dispatch-conf.conf first and create the directory referenced by the archive-dir variable. Then, execute dispatch-conf:
When running dispatch-conf, each changed config file will be reviewed one at a time. Press u to update (replace) the current config file with the new one and continue to the next file. Press z to zap (delete) the new config file and continue to the next file. The n key will instruct dispatch-conf to skip to the next file. This can be done to delay a merge until a future time. Once all config files have been taken care of, dispatch-conf will exit. At any time, q can be used to exit the application as well.
For more information, check out the dispatch-conf man page. It describes how to interactively merge current and new config files, edit new config files, examine differences between files, and more.
Another tool to merge configuration files is etc-update. Like dispatch-conf, it does provide an interactive merging setup and can also auto-merge trivial changes.
It should be noted that etc-update is an older and largely unmaintained utility. It is not as simple to use as dispatch-conf, nor as fully featured. It is imperative to note it does not backup old versions of configuration files. Once a file is updated, the old version is gone forever.
When possible, it is strongly recommended to use dispatch-conf (see the previous section) instead of etc-update.
After merging the straightforward changes, a list of protected files will be provided that have an update waiting. At the bottom the possible options are shown:
Please select a file to edit by entering the corresponding number.
(-1 to exit) (-3 to auto merge all remaining files)
(-5 to auto-merge AND not use 'mv -i'):
-1, etc-update will exit and discontinue any other changes. With
-5, all listed configuration files will be overwritten with the newer versions. It is therefore very important to first select the configuration files that should not be automatically updated. This is simply a matter of entering the number listed to the left of that configuration file.
As an example, we select the configuration file /etc/pear.conf:
Beginning of differences between /etc/pear.conf and /etc/._cfg0000_pear.conf
End of differences between /etc/pear.conf and /etc/._cfg0000_pear.conf
1) Replace original with update
2) Delete update, keeping original as is
3) Interactively merge original with update
4) Show differences again
The differences between the two files are shown. If the updated configuration file can be used without problems, enter 1. If the updated configuration file isn't necessary, or doesn't provide any new or useful information, enter 2. If the current configuration file has to be interactively updated, enter 3.
There is no point in further elaborating the interactive merging here. For completeness sake, we will list the possible commands that can be used while interactively merging the two files. Users are greeted with two lines (the original one, and the proposed new one) and a prompt at which the user can enter one of the following commands:
ed: Edit then use both versions, each decorated with a header.
eb: Edit then use both versions.
el: Edit then use the left version.
er: Edit then use the right version.
e: Edit a new version.
l: Use the left version.
r: Use the right version.
s: Silently include common lines.
v: Verbosely include common lines.
After having finished updating the important configuration files, users can then automatically update all the other configuration files. etc-update will exit if it doesn't find any more updateable configuration files.
With quickpkg users can create archives of the packages that are already merged on the system. These archives can be used as prebuilt packages. Running quickpkg is straightforward: just add the names of the packages to archive.
For instance, to archive curl, orage, and procps:
quickpkg curl orage procps
The prebuilt packages will be stored in $PKGDIR (/var/cache/binpkgs/ by default). These packages are placed in $PKGDIR/CATEGORY.