I'm serious - is it really fun for *nix sysadmins spending half of their life on spotting typo in httpd.conf ? Why not use xml or json - (write gui tools would be easier)
closed as not constructive by Zoredache, Zypher♦, John Gardeniers, Dennis Williamson, splattne♦ Mar 17 '10 at 14:07
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This quite a utopian request. More or less similar to asking why is there more than a single:
Open Source (and close source for that matter) developers are simply free to choose the format that best suit their needs. It is unlikely to change at least in the Unix/Linux world although trends do happen.
By the way, xml used to be quite popular but at the same time was bothering others for its lack of readability and tolerance. A consensus might appear in the future on some format, and json is indeed not bad and has a bunch of different languages implementations.
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Linux is just a kernel. GNU Software bundled in distributions is another story. The team working on distributions take care about quality of software and packaging, but most of the time they aren't involved in the developement of the particular piece of software.
As mentined above, a lot of stuph is many years old, and lots of notation comes out from history.
Personaly I disagree, that any kind of GUI would be easier than text-file configuration. Using XML would make things a lot harder in many places. Standard config files are way easier to parse from command line using tools like awk/sed and soforth.
Aside from that, what "typo spotting" are you refering too? Most of the software has mechanizms which will show you where exactly is the problem.
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A lot of it is historical. You find the same on the MS world... ...old stuff uses either arcane syntax that is made up, or INI files, new stuff from the .NET era is XML based.
In the unix world, you really have to look at the age of some of the software. Yes, it did go through revisions, but with no config standards anywhere.... noone ever made one up that got weight. Without that... well... nothing ever gets enough momentum to trigger other people to rewrite.
The negative side of no central instance trying to push for a standard.
Which sucks. Comparing the sometimes tremendous complex web.conig in asp.net with some easier unix configurations, I am STILL better off with the XML. As you said - easier to write tools, easier to check etc. After all, XML has a lot of tooling support.