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Exploring the Purpose of /etc/default in Ubuntu

Ubuntu 13

In the world of Ubuntu, the /etc/default directory plays a crucial role in system administration. This directory is used to store default configurations for different software packages installed on your system. In this article, we will delve into the purpose of /etc/default in Ubuntu, its importance, and how to use it effectively.

Quick Answer

The purpose of /etc/default in Ubuntu is to store default configurations for different software packages installed on your system. It provides a convenient location for storing customizable parameters for system services, separate from the boot scripts. This allows changes to persist even if the package is upgraded, making it easier to manage and customize your system.

What is /etc/default?

The /etc/default directory in Ubuntu is a location where system scripts store configuration information. These scripts are typically run during system startup (boot time) or when starting a service. The purpose of the /etc/default directory is to store parameters and default values that the end user or system administrator is likely to change.

This separation of configuration from the scripts themselves allows changes to persist even if the package is upgraded and the boot script is replaced. This makes it easier to manage and customize your system without worrying about losing your changes during a software update.

Understanding the Role of /etc/default

In the Debian-based systems like Ubuntu, the /etc/default/ directory primarily consists of mostly empty files. The convention is that each /etc/init.d/test script first sources /etc/default/test before starting or stopping the test service. The purpose of the file is to provide additional options for starting the service or overriding certain aspects of its startup.

For instance, consider the /etc/default/grub file, which contains default settings for the GRUB bootloader. If you want to change the default boot entry, timeout, or other settings, you can do so by editing this file.

Here’s an example of what you might see in /etc/default/grub:

GRUB_DEFAULT=0
GRUB_TIMEOUT=10
GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=`lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null || echo Debian`
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=""

In this file, GRUB_DEFAULT=0 sets the default boot entry to the first entry in the list, GRUB_TIMEOUT=10 sets the boot menu to display for 10 seconds before booting the default entry, and GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash" sets the kernel parameters for the default boot entry.

Not a Place for Default Configuration Files

It’s important to note that the /etc/default directory is not intended to store the default state of configuration files. Instead, it is used to provide customizable parameters for system services. If you are looking to save the default state of configuration files, it is recommended to check the documentation or configuration files of the specific software or package you are working with. Different software may have different conventions for storing default configurations.

Conclusion

The /etc/default directory in Ubuntu is a powerful tool for system administrators. It provides a convenient location for storing customizable parameters for system services, separate from the boot scripts. This allows changes to persist even if the package is upgraded, making it easier to manage and customize your system.

Remember, however, that /etc/default is not the place to store the default state of configuration files. Always refer to the documentation or configuration files of the specific software for guidance on storing default configurations.

By understanding the purpose and role of /etc/default in Ubuntu, you can take full control of your system’s configuration and make it work exactly the way you want it to.

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