Menu-spec update (Was: [Patch] Update 'How to' to clarify computation of datadir)

Francois Gouget fgouget at
Wed Mar 22 20:50:03 EET 2006

cobaco (aka Bart Cornelis) wrote:
> On Wednesday 22 March 2006 11:25, Francois Gouget wrote:
>>Looking at XDG_*_DIRS and checking which directories are writable is
>>easy enough and essentially what Jeremy proposed. But that's not what
>>the specification says an ISV should do. The new specification
>>essentially says that ISVs should ignore $XDG_*_DIRS and always assume
>>datadir=/usr/share and sysconfdir=/etc/xdg.
> which does not seem like a good idea to me, so why are we changing the spec 
> that way?

No idea<g>.

>>I will note that it does have a provision for the case where /usr/share
>>is not writable and suggests to write to /usr/local/share in that case.
>>But I cannot see when one would be able to the latter without being able
>>to write to the former since both are usually owned by root.
>>As for asking the user where to write desktop files there are three
>>problems that make it impractical:
>>  * it supposes interaction with a user which makes automated RPM
>>installations impossible (to cite just one example).
> Firstly, given that they're already asking where to put the app itself [1] I 
> don't see the problem.
 > [1]

This email was misleading. For one given product we normally produce 
three types of installers:
  * a graphical, interactive GUI installer which lets the user choose 
where he wants to install the application, and does not require being 
root. This is the installer that was mentioned in the email.
  * an RPM package that can be installed on any rpm-based system. This 
installer must be non-interactive.
  * a Debian package that can be installed on any dpkg-based system. 
This installer must be non-interactive too.

It is for these last two installers that requiring interaction with a 
user is a problem.

> Secondly in an automated install you'd simply use the defaults, and not ask 
> questions:

This supposes we can come up with defaults that work across Linux 

>>  * users don't know nor care where desktop files should go.
>>  * asking this sort of thing to the user is very user unfriendly.
> a regular using installing something would only be able to install in his 
> homedirectory in which case the spec doesn't have a problem 
> -> that's bogus, as the the only case where this is a problem is when it's
>    _not_ a regular user that 's doing the install, and I'd say asking (at
>    non-critical priority so it can be ignored for automated installs) is a
>    very adminfriendly thing to do.

This view is fine in the 'big system' world but is totally inappropriate 
for 'Linux on the desktop' world which, as I understand it, is very much 
the focus of

If 'Linux on the desktop' is to have a chance, then regular home users 
should be able to install third-party applications without having to 
bother themselves with a thousand little details like this.

I am all for providing a way for the user to tinker with such details if 
they want/need to. But applications should be able to easily determine, 
possibly in their postinstall, proper defaults that work independently 
of the Linux distribution.

Francois Gouget
fgouget at

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