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Manual Reference Pages  -  SYSGATHER (1)

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sysgather - a configuration file mismanager

$Ringlet: 1279 2007-05-10 08:56:31Z roam $



  sysgather [-hnqvV] [-f file] command [package...]


The sysgather utility stores various collections of configuration files, both for the system and for applications, in order to facilitate keeping them under version control.

The configuration files are organized into collections, or packages. Each package is defined by a section in the sysgather.conf file. An example of a package could be the base system configuration files (most of the contents of the /etc directory), the Apache webserver configuration files (httpd.conf, access.conf, mime.types, etc.), or a user’s dotfiles.

If the special value ALL is specified as the only package name, sysgather operates on all the groups defined on the groups line in the default section of its configuration file.

The sysgather utility processes two configuration files: a system-wide one, located in /usr/local/etc/sysgather.conf, and a per-user file containing additional definitions and overrides, located in each user’s home directory and named .sysgather.conf. If the per-user file exists, any collections defined within it replace the corresponding collections from the system-wide file, and any variables in the default section will also replace the corresponding variables from the system-wide file.


-f file Specify the configuration file to use instead of the default /usr/local/etc/sysgather.conf.

Note: If this option is present, the ~/.sysgather.conf file is not processed after the specified configuration file.

-h Display usage information and exit.
-n For the diff, get, and put commands, do not actually copy any files or execute any system commands, but simply report what would have been done.
-q Quiet operation - suppress informational and warning messages, only complain about genuine error conditions.
-V Display the program version and exit.
-v Verbose operation - display progress messages during the program’s work.


The sysgather utility recognizes the following commands:
o diff

Show the differences between the stored and current config files.

o diffsource (or diffsrc)

Show the differences between the stored and current original (vendor) versions of the config files.

o get

Fetch the current versions of the config files.

o help

Display usage instructions and exit.

o put

Install the working copies of the config files to their real locations.

o source (or src)

Fetch the original (vendor) versions of the config files.

o version

Display the program version and exit.


The configuration file for the sysgather utility usually goes by the name of sysgather.conf. It is separated into several sections, of which only one is mandatory - the default section.


The default section specifies global sysgather parameters - the list of file collections and optional directory mapping.
o groups

The most important, mandatory variable in the default section - a list of file collections for sysgather to process. For each name in this list, sysgather looks for a configuration file section by the same name, and treats it as a file collection section.

o mapbase

The common path prefix that will be replaced in directory names if remapping the source and configuration directory paths (see MAPPING DIRECTORIES below). Note that this must be exactly the same as the path prefix at the start of the basedir in each collection that is to be remapped, and that sysgather will automatically append a slash at the end.

o mapconf

The path to the actual top of the configuration directories’ tree if remapping the source directory paths.

o mapsrc

The path to the actual top of the source directories’ tree if remapping the source directory paths.


A file collection is, simply put, a list of files to keep under version control together. Each collection is represented by a INI-style group - the name of the group serves as the name of the collection. There are two kinds of variables within the group - collection properties and source file specifications.

There are two modes of sysgather operation - source files and actual files. The files listed in the files property are the actual files that will be kept track of. For some of them, a source file may be specified - an original, vendor version. This may be useful for keeping track of local changes and merging the vendor modifications across upgrades.

For each collection, the following configuration directives may be specified:
o basedir

The directory where the files from this collection will be stored by sysgather.

o confdir

The directory where the actual files from this collection are to be found on the system.

o srcdir

The directory where the source (vendor) copies of the files are to be found on the system.

If a package does not provide default versions of any files, the srcdir property may be specified as NONE and sysgather will refuse to execute the source and diffsource commands on this collection.

o files

The actual files comprising this collection. Those may be specified as simple filenames within confdir, paths relative to confdir, or absolute paths.

For each of the actual files listed in the files directive, a source file may be specified. This is done by defining a property with the same name as the actual file, the value of which is the name of the source file relative to srcdir.

For an example, please consult the various configuration files in the /usr/local/share/examples/sysgather/ directory, as well as the sample sysgather.conf file provided with the sysgather distribution.


Depending on the version control system used, sometimes it is desirable to keep the source and vendor versions of the configuration files in separate directories. For instance, the branches in a Subversion repository are kept in different directories under a common root, and the sysgather configuration repository may be structured like this:
o mach
o snark
o apache
o sysgather
o straylight
o lynx
o sysgather
o vendor
o snark
o apache
o sysgather
o straylight
o lynx
o sysgather
In this case, for the straylight host, the configuration directories are rooted under mach/straylight/, while the vendor versions of the config files are placed under mach/vendor/straylight/. For such setups, sysgather supports configuration directory mapping with the mapbase, mapconf, and mapsrc directives - using a common name, e.g. conf, as an alias for different directories in the source and vendor collections. The sysgather configuration file for the straylight host would look like this:

  groups=lynx sysgather


Thus, the lynx collection uses a virtual path of conf/lynx/ for the configuration files, and sysgather will expand it to mach/vendor/straylight/lynx/ for the stock vendor version and to mach/straylight/lynx/ for the real configuration files.


/usr/local/etc/sysgather.conf The default configuration file, unless overridden by the -f command-line option.
~/.sysgather.conf The per-user configuration file, located in the home directory of the account invoking sysgather. The contents of this file is merged with the contents of the system-wide file as described above.
/usr/local/share/examples/sysgather/*.conf Sample configuration files.


Grab the base system’s default configuration files for an import into a version control system:

  sysgather source sys-fbsd5

Fetch the currently-used versions of the system files and the Apache webserver configuration for a check-in into the version control system:

  sysgather get sys-fbsd5 apache

Display the differences between the stored files and the currently active Apache configuration:

  sysgather diff apache

Put the stored configuration files (presumably after a version control check-in) as the active configuration for the Apache webserver:

  sysgather put apache


o There is no -O option=value command-line option.
o This documentation is much too sketchy.
o There is no test suite.


The sysgather utility was written by Peter Pentchev in 2005.


Peter Pentchev <>
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