After I post the question for sun-managers' list, I got replies from:
Olivier Grange-Labat <email@example.com>
Tim Pointing <Tim.Pointing@dciem.dnd.ca>
Both pointed out to me that I should use "/usr/local/." instead
of "/usr/local" to let rdist resolve the symlink to a real directory.
This works for Michael A. Cooper's rdist for the '90s [see the paper
referenced below], as well as traditional rdist [Solaris 2.6 rdist,
Free BSD 2.2.6 ridst]. I found it puzzling that Copper's paper
"overhauling rdist for the '90s" specifically mentioned the ability to rdist
a directory to a symlink, but what it does is to remove the symlink
and create a real directory if I use /usr/local. This is not desired since
it will fill up my /usr. I could not find documentation for using
something like "/usr/local/.". I don't know why the rdist software would
not do a little more work to resolve the real directory.
But anyway, I am very glad that my problem is resolved.
> From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue May 18 22:09:51 1999
> Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 20:30:00 -0400 (EDT)
> From: email@example.com (Michael Wang)
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: rdist a directory to a symlink on remote host
> The Solaris rdisk won't allow to rdist a directory to
> a symlink on remote host, it simply says it is not a dir,
> and then exits.
> The rdist described in "overhauling rdist for the '90s"
> does according to paper (http://www.MagniComp.com/) but
> when I tried, it simply remove the symlink and then make
> a new directory.
> What I want to do is:
> cat << EOF | $THE_RDIST -p $THE_RDISTD_PATH -f -
> HOSTS=( $the_hosts )
> install -R /usr/local;
> where /usr/local is symlink to a real directory. I can not
> replace it with the real directory, since it points different
> directories for different host in $the_hosts.
> The rdist I used is rist 6.1.5 from the URL mentioned above.
> Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks.
> Michael Wang
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