Question about interpretation of XDG_DATA_DIRS

Waldo Bastian bastian at
Tue Jan 4 11:24:30 EET 2005

On Monday 27 December 2004 09:09, Jan D. wrote:
> Hello.
> I'm new here so please excuse me if this is the wrong place to ask.
> When reading the XDG Base Directory Specification (0.6), it says:
> "If $XDG_DATA_DIRS is either not set or empty, a value equal to
> /usr/local/share/:/usr/share/ should be used."
> and
> "If $XDG_CONFIG_DIRS is either not set or empty, a value equal to
> /etc/xdg should be used."
> Case in point is Gtk+ 2.6 that looks for the default theme file only in
> /usr/local/share and /usr/share if XDG_DATA_DIRS is not set.  But as I
> have several different installations of Gtk+ (and other things), I
> would expect them to also search $datadir (or $prefix/share).  They
> refer to the default-theme-specification, which I have not been able to
> locate, but I suspect that it references the "Base Directory
> Specification".
> Later on in the specification it does say:
> "Other specifications may reference this specification by specifying
> the location of a data file as $XDG_DATA_DIRS/subdir/filename. This
> implies that:
>      * Such file should be installed to $datadir/subdir/filename with
> $datadir defaulting to /usr/share."
> So is it the intention of the specification that packages like Gtk+
> shall search $datadir or is it just /usr/local/share:/usr/share?

No, that is not the intention. The intention is to have a fully defined search 
path that is shared by all packages that support the standard. Since $datadir 
will depend from package to package including it would result in different 
packages using different search paths.

> Personally I would want the default for XDG_CONFIG_DIRS to be
> $datadir:/usr/local/share:/usr/share.  Without that, installing
> different versions with different $prefix becomes impossible.

You could set XDG_CONFIG_DIRS to point to the $prefix that you use, couldn't 

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