The root directory is the directory that contains all other directories and files on a system and which is designated by a forward slash ( / ). Among the other directories that are usually installed by default in the root directory are /bin, /boot, /dev, /etc, /home, /initrd, /lib, /lost+found, /misc, /mnt, /opt, /proc, /root, /sbin, /tmp and /usr.
/var is specific for each computer; that is, it is not shared over a network with other computers, in contrast to many other high-level directories. Its contents are not included in /usr because situations can occur in which it is desired to mount /usr as read-only, such as when it is on a CDROM or on another computer. /usr, which is generally the largest directory (at least on a newly installed system) and is used to store application programs, should only contain static data.
Among the various subdirectories within /var are /var/cache (contains cached data from application programs), /var/games (contains variable data relating to games in /usr), /var/lib (contains dynamic data libraries and files), /var/lock (contains lock files created by programs to indicate that they are using a particular file or device), /var/log (contains log files), /var/run (contains PIDs and other system information that is valid until the system is booted again) and /var/spool (contains mail, news and printer queues).
Created February 25, 2006.