Proposal for a MIME mapping spec

Jonathan Blandford jrb at
Thu Jul 8 16:18:11 EEST 2004

Hongli Lai <h.lai at> writes:

> Jonathan Blandford wrote:
> > The defaults are first read in
> > $XDG_DATA_DIRS/applications/defaults.list.  It is expected that these
> > defaults are set solely by the distributor of the system.  Then, a
> > $MIME_PREFS_LIST environment variable is checked for other preferred
> > applications.  This is expected to be set by a sysadmin providing their
> > own defaults.  Additionally, each desktop should prepend its own
> > defaults to this variable.  Then, $XDG_DATA_CONFIG/mime/defaults.list is
> > checked for user-specific defaults.  Finally, it is expected that each
> > desktop will have their own (optional) user-specific desktop file.
> The spec looks pretty good. But how does the desktop environment
> change the list of default preffered apps, if that list is stored in
> an environment variable? As far as I know you can't change the values
> of environment variables in other processes. So if the user changes
> something in gnome-default-applications-properties, the changes won't
> apply until he relogs in.
> Or did I misinterpreted something?

The environment variable is just supposed to point to known files.  For
example, a sysadmin could set it system-wide for the session to
"/etc/defaults.list", and then gnome-session could prepend
":/usr/share/gnome/defaults.list" to it.


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