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It seems like the /etc directory was added for anything that falls into the "et cetera" category of system files. To me that seems along the lines of "extra" or "unnecessary".

Why is it that (in my experience) /etc is now the goto directory for installing programs and libraries?

UPDATE: So it's for installing configuration files; but that still doesn't seem to make sense to me.

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closed as off topic by Michael Hampton, ceejayoz, Dave M, Alex, Sven Jan 21 '13 at 23:36

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Section 3.7 refers – Iain Jan 21 '13 at 21:31
I don't think I've ever seen binaries in /etc... – Mark Henderson Jan 21 '13 at 21:32
You're right, my mistake. As MDMarra pointed out, it's for configuration... which still doesn't seem to make sense to me. – jaredonline Jan 21 '13 at 21:35
Our sister site Unix & Linux will probably be a much more welcoming place for questions about Unix history. – Michael Hampton Jan 21 '13 at 21:37
your question reads like trolling. more suited to tech battlefront forum – Tim Haegele Jan 21 '13 at 21:49
up vote 6 down vote accepted

And the answer is "Because it was for et cetera - and others." It wasn't always just config files.

Question for Dr. Salus: final word

As a footnote, I just received email from Dennis Ritchie stating:

I assure you that the original contents of /etc were the "et cetera" that didn't seem to fit elsewhere. Other variants might do their own etymologies differently.

Regards, Dennis

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You're a bit mistaken it seems. Programs and libraries shouldn't be installed there. It's where configuration files should be placed.

The manpage for the file system heirarchy explains this in more detail.

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So why isn't the directory called conf? – jaredonline Jan 21 '13 at 21:34
You'll have to ask someone that was at AT&T or Berkley in the 60s. – MDMarra Jan 21 '13 at 21:37
OK, if that's your question, you're off-topic because you're inviting extended discussion, about what is essentially a non-technical topic. It's called /etc because that's what the original authors of the OS called it. – mfinni Jan 21 '13 at 21:38

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