[Portland] /opt setup

Karol Pietrzak kap4020 at rit.edu
Fri Jul 21 10:37:27 PDT 2006

On Tuesday 18 July 2006 03:57, James Richard Tyrer wrote:
> With all these links, is there really any point in installing an
> application in: "/opt/"?  I suppose so, but I can't help but wonder.
> IIUC, the main advantage of installing an application in: "/opt/" is
> that all of the applications files are in one place and can be easily
> removed.  If that advantage is not needed because we use a package
> management system that can remove all files, I really think that it
> would best to simply drop the: "/opt/" directory.  That is, are there
> real advantages in installing in: "/opt/<app_name>/" rather than just
> installing in: "/usr/local/"?

Well, package managers are great, but many applications do not use them and 
they have their limitations. 

RPM, for example, doesn't allow two packages with the same name and different 
versions to co-exist.

> A reasonable solution would be possible if it were possible to merge
> directories in *NIX as I understand that it is with Plan9.
> Can Linux address this issue with a virtual file system?

George Kraft has given a great response to this.

I am just writing to give an example of Unreal Tournament 2004.  Where should 
I install this?  The default is in /usr/local, but I would argue that /opt is 
a much better place for it since UT2004 just wanted to install at one root 
(IIRC, /usr/local/ut2004).

/usr/local has a predefined structure as the FHS describes.  /opt doesn't, so 
it's great for 3rd party apps that don't need or use such a directory 
structure. More examples are Eclipse, NetBeans, and Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Another advantage of /opt for all software is that multiple versions can be 
installed simultaneously.  Two version of Unreal Tournament, two versions of 
GIMP (release and beta), two versions of OpenOffice, etc.

As Mats D. Wichmann points out, there is no need to 
"pollute" /usr/local/bin, /usr/bin, etc. for most desktop applications.  The 
menu system handles all of this, like in another popular desktop OS.  This 
has the advantage of being scalable and clean.

Karl Pietrzak
kap4020 at rit.edu
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