storage location for common user directories

Francois Gouget fgouget at
Fri Mar 10 11:07:50 EET 2006


Aaron J. Seigo wrote:
> i wonder if it would be possible to throw the translations into the .directory 
> file and keep a set of standard files to copy over in a system location? this 
> would mean that in addition to checking for .directory and various contents 
> therein, file browsers (managers, dialogs, etc) would have to check for a 
> localized version of the Name property.

This sounds like a good idea. It solves the problem of applications 
blindly using 'My Documents' on French systems, and also the case of 
users belatedly discovering they can configure their systems for French 
(i.e. no need to rename 'My Documents' to 'Mes Documents' and deal with 
the fallout). It can also be used to use a specific icon (isn't there 
already a mechanism for that?).

The only problem is duplicating that .directory file to each user's 'My 
Documents' folder.
  * It won't get updated when the desktop system gets upgraded so it 
will miss the translation fixes and the new translations.
  * The desktop system could systematically copy root's .directory file 
but then it means the user cannot change it.
  * Plus it means you potentially have hundreds or more copies of that 
file on big systems.

In fact, it seems to me that there are many places where the desktop 
could put union/overlay mounts with copy-on-write semantics to good use. 
Here are some examples:
  * The user's Desktop is filled with a few icons the when it is created 
but then it is never updated (afaik). So if the administrator installs 
new packages that provide new desktop icons, existing users don't get 
these icons. If the user's ~/Desktop was handled as an overlay over the 
reference Desktop directory (e.g. /usr/share/Desktop), new icons would 
appear automatically. The overlay mechanism would also handle the 
deletion of icons for us, making sure they don't come back at the next 
  * The same mechanism would make it possible to get the shared 
'.directory' file to appear in '~/My Documents' and would also let the 
user modify that file (copy-on-write) or delete it.
  * Same thing for 'My Pictures', 'My Videos', 'My Tunes', etc.
  * It could have been useful with the old KDE/Gnome menuing system 
where each folder was represented by a directory containing desktop 
files. It would have provided a nice way to handle the user's menu 
modifications. With the new XDG menuing system I'm not sure there a way 
to make use of such a functionality.

> this would obviously fall apart on the command line, but would work in the 
> GUI. meh .. sounds like a massive hack =)

The command line would always get 'My Documents' which seems just fine 
to me. In fact, ideally it could even be 'mydocs' which would be easier 
to use and would dispell any illusion that the directory name is the 
same as its display name.

Francois Gouget
fgouget at

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