basedir-spec issue

Thomas Leonard tal00r at
Tue May 11 16:26:55 EEST 2004

On Tue, May 11, 2004 at 12:21:38AM +1200, Laszlo Peter wrote:
> On Sat, 2004-05-08 at 00:49, Thomas Leonard wrote:
> > Iteroperability means we have to set things up so ALL programs work by
> > default, not "GNOME programs work by default, others with a bit of
> > fiddling".
> Doesn't having to set XDG_DATA_DIRS to get _anything_ working
> count as "fiddling"? :O

GNOME needs to set things up correctly by default. Your workaround isn't
helpful, because it only makes a difference in the situation where many
other programs won't work (so users still see the desktop as buggy).

Without setting XDG_DATA_DIRS, the desktop will seem broken. If using
ROX-Filer doesn't stike you as vital, consider that this also affects
abiword and the gimp. All this does is make it look like a gimp bug rather
than a GNOME bug (thus causing extra bug reports for the gimp developers).

So, you have to set XDG_DATA_DIRS to get a fully working desktop. And once
you've done that, the datadir workaround isn't needed anyway.

> I can't give you a concrete example, but think about this:
> ideally, all the versions of all the programs you install
> should follow standards and should be bugfree. But that's
> not the case. You only test a certain set of apps working
> together. You don't test what happens if your gnome-2.x
> build uses data files from your gnome-2.y build. There
> could have been bugs in the build, or the spec could have
> changed since. New tags added to some config files in the
> newer version that the old code can't handle and just crash.
> Still, if the user wants to use an old app he should be
> able to create a launcher or click on it in the file manager
> and not open a terminal, change XDG_DATA_DIRS and start the
> app.

You're saying that the *default* behaviour should be to use *different*
versions of a *shared* database. You'll get many more bug reports
because of inconsistancies the users see ("I updated the MIME database;
nautilus sees it but gimp doesn't") than you would due to hypothetical
incompatibilities. This is the whole point of having a shared database,
after all.

In any case, it would be better for the users to see the bug, report it,
and upgrade to a fixed version than to pretend silently that everything is

(your argument can be applied more generally to other shared resources
such as libraries, for example; the ability to do this kind of sandboxing
is useful in some cases, but not as a unexpected side-effect of doing an
out-of-prefix install, and certainly not by default)

Thomas Leonard
tal00r at	tal197 at
GPG: 9242 9807 C985 3C07 44A6  8B9A AE07 8280 59A5 3CC1

More information about the xdg mailing list