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Showing posts from June 3, 2010

Managing /etc/alternatives (Updated 2017-06-09)

A number of applications are configured by default to invoke the sendmail application to send mail messages. Sendmail is, of course, the iconic UNIX command to send mail. But in many cases, sendmail is overkill and most systems provide a default lightweight command, /bin/mail, that can be used instead. Another alternative is ssmtp.

There are alternative applications for many standard applications. After all, what UNIX programmer can't think of a better or different way of doing something? But how is that choice of alternatives easily managed on a Linux system? In the old days, the sysadmin installed the alternative application and created a symlink to the alternative application in place of the expected default application, for example symlinking /bin/mail to /usr/bin/sendmail.

But the update-alternatives method provides better control, in theory at least.

My problem was that the default installation of Mandriva Linux (as of Mandriva-2010) did not provide such a choice. I filed …