are you using /var/mail?

Theodore Y. Ts'o tytso at MIT.EDU
Thu Jan 21 13:29:34 PST 1999


   From: t.sippel-dau at ic.ac.uk
   Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 20:41:28 +0000 (gmt)

   Not only that, sites with more than one machine will have a particular
   machine where the mail spool is held (as long as there is only one of
   them), and not all machines will have active mail spools. In that case,
   it just does not matter if /var/mail (or /var/spool/mail) is a link, a
   directory, a mount point, and outomount map trigger, or a character file
   calling for a kernel driver to handle further procssing.

   We should probably say:

     o  there are applications that use /var/mail and expect "the mailspool"
     o  there are applications that use /var/spool/mail and expect "the
		mailspool" 
     o  new applications should use .....
     o  the system manager will have to ensure both accesses are equally valid


This is absolutely the right answer.    All we need to say is:

1) /var/mail shall be either the location of the directory where user's
mail is stored, or a symlink to it.

2) /var/spool/mail shall be either the location of the directory where
users' mail is stored, or a symlink to it.

3)  New applications shall use /var/mail.  /var/spool/mail may be
deprecated in a future release.

4)  System administrator may locate this directory wherever they wish,
as long as /var/mail and /var/spool/mail are symlinks to the correct
location of this file.

The last is a bit of a truism, but hopefully this language is explicit
enough that distributions won't feel the need to move the spool
directory (and kvetch because it's hard to do this when updating a
running system), by making it very clear that there's no need to move
the directory as part of the update.  All that's necessary is to make
sure that applications that reference /var/mail will work, and that new
application reference /var/mail.

						- Ted



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