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etckeeper is a collection of tools to let /etc be stored in a git or mercurial repository. It hooks into apt to automatically commit changes made to /etc during package upgrades. It uses [metastore] to track file metadata that git does not normally support, but that is important for /etc, such as the permissions of `/etc/shadow`. It's quite modular and configurable, while also being simple to use if you understand the basics of working with version control. : http://david.hardeman.nu/software.php ## security warnings First, a big warning: By checking /etc into revision control, you are creating a copy of files like /etc/shadow that must remain secret. Anytime you have a copy of a secret file, it becomes more likely that the file contents won't remain secret. etckeeper is careful about file permissions, and will make sure that repositories it sets up don't allow anyone but root to read their contents. However, you *also* must take care when cloning or copying these repositories, not to allow anyone else to see the data. Since git mushes all the files into packs under the .git directory, the whole .git directory content needs to be kept secret. (Ditto for mercurial and .hg) Also, since revision control systems don't keep track of the mode of files like the shadow file, it will check out world readable, before etckeeper fixes the permissions. The tutorial has some examples of safe ways to avoid these problems when cloning an /etc repository. Also note that `etckeeper init` runs code stored in the repository. So don't use it on repositories from untrusted sources. ## what etckeeper does etckeeper has special support to handle changes to /etc caused by installing and upgrading packages. Before apt installs packages, `etckeeper pre-install` will check that /etc contains no uncommitted changes. After apt installs packages, `etckeeper post-install` will add any new interesting files to the repository, and commit the changes. Revsion control systems are designed as a way to manage source code, not as a way to manage arbitrary directories like /etc. This means there are a few limitations that etckeeper has to work around. These include file metadata storage, empty directories, and special files. git and mercurial have only limited tracking of file metadata, being able to track the executable bit, but not other permissions or owner info. So file metadata storage is handled by `metastore`. Among other chores, `etckeeper init` sets up a `pre-commit` hook that uses `metastore` to store metadata about file owners, permissions, and even extended attributes into a `/etc/.metadata` file. This metadata is stored in git along with everything else, and can be applied if the repo should need to be checked back out. git and mercurial cannot track empty directories, but they can be significant sometimes in /etc. So the `pre-commit` hook also stores information that can be used to recreate the empty directories in a `/etc/.etckeeper` file. git and mercurial don't support several special files that you _probably_ won't have in /etc, such as unix sockets, named pipes, hardlinked files (but softlinks are fine), and device files. The `pre-commit` hook will warn if your /etc contains such special files. ## tutorial A quick walkthrough of using etckeeper. First, edit `/etc/etckeeper/etckeeper.conf` to select which version control system to use. The default is git, and this tutorial assumes you're using it. Mercurial is similar. The `etckeeper init` command initialises an /etc/.git/ repository. This command is careful to never overwrite existing files or directories in /etc. It will create a `.gitignore` if one doesn't already exist, sets up pre-commit hooks if they don't already exist, and so on. It does *not* commit any files, but does `git add` all interesting files for an initial commit later. etckeeper init Now you might want to run `git status` to check that it includes all the right files, and none of the wrong files. And you can edit the `.gitignore` and so forth. Once you're ready, it's time to commit: cd /etc git commit -m "initial checkin" git gc # pack git repo to save a lot of space After this first commit, you can use regular git commands to handle further changes: passwd someuser git status git commit -a -m "changed a password" Rinse, lather, repeat. You might find that some files are changed by daemons and shouldn't be tracked by git. These can be removed from git: git rm --cached printcap # modified by CUPS echo printcap >> .gitignore git commit -a -m "don't track printcap" etckeeper hooks into apt so changes to interesting files in /etc caused by installing or upgrading packages will automatically be committed. Here "interesting" means files that are not ignored by `.gitignore`. You can use any git commands you like, but do keep in mind that, if you check out a different branch or an old version, git is operating directly on your system's /etc. But if you do decide to check out a branch or tag, make sure you run "etckeeper init" again, to get any metadata changes: git checkout april_first_joke_etc etckeeper init Often it's better to clone /etc to elsewhere and do potentially dangerous stuff in a staging directory. You can clone the repository using git clone, but be careful that the directory it's cloned into starts out mode 700, to prevent anyone else from seeing files like shadow, before `etckeeper init` fixes their permissions: mkdir /my/workdir cd /my/workdir chmod 700 . git clone /etc cd etc etckeeper init -d . chmod 755 .. Another common reason to clone the repository is to make a backup to a server. When using git push to create a new remote clone, make sure the new remote clone is mode 700! (And, obviously, only push over a secure transport like ssh, and only to a server you trust.) ssh server 'mkdir /etc-clone; cd /etc-clone; chmod 700 .; git init' git push ssh://server/etc-clone master Of course, it's also possible to pull changes from a server onto client machines, to deploy changes to /etc. You might even set up branches for each machine and merge changes between them. Once /etc is under version control, the sky's the limit.. ## configuration The main configuration file is `/etc/etckeeper/etckeeper.conf` etckeeper uses `run-parts` to run the executable files in `/etc/etckeeper/$command.d/`. You can modify these files, or add your own custom files. Each individual file is short, simple, and does only one action. For example, here's how to configure it to run `git gc` after each apt run, which will save a lot of disk space: cd /etc/etckeeper/post-install.d (echo '#!/bin/sh' ; echo 'exec git gc') > 99git-gc chmod +x 99git-gc git add . git commit -m "run git gc after each apt run" Here's how to disable the automatic commits after each apt run, while still letting it git add new files and git rm removed ones: chmod -x /etc/etckeeper/commit.d/50vcs-commit ## inspiration Two blog posts provided inspiration for techniques used by etckeeper: * http://www.jukie.net/~bart/blog/20070312134706 * http://bryan-murdock.blogspot.com/2007/07/put-etc-under-revision-control-with-git.html [isisetup] has some of the same aims as etckeeper, however, unlike it, etckeeper does not aim to be a git porcelain with its own set of commands for manipulating the /etc repository. Instead, etckeeper provides a simple setup procedure and hooks for setting up an /etc repository, and then gets out of your way; you manage the repository using regular git commands. : http://www.isisetup.ch/ ## license etckeeper is licensed under version 2 or greater of the GNU GPL. ## author Joey Hess <email@example.com>