Proposal: Inharitance for Desktop Entry Spec

Vincent Untz vuntz at
Thu Apr 17 02:21:41 PDT 2008

Le jeudi 17 avril 2008, à 08:48 +0200, cobaco (aka Bart Cornelis) a écrit :
> On Thursday 17 April 2008, 洪任諭 wrote:
> > I have a proposal for the current "Desktop Entry Spec".
> > Let desktop entry files derive from another desktop file.
> > Desktop entry files get widely used today, but there exists some
> > serious problems.
> >
> > If the user want to override an system-wide dekstop_id, normally,
> > he/she should create a desktop entry files with the same name, and put
> > it in $XDG_DATA_HOME. Currently, the best way to do this is to copy
> > the system-wide desktop entry file to ~/.local/applications, and do
> > the modification you want. At first this looks good and reasonable.
> > It, however, is problematic. Imagine the following senario:
> >
> > 1. The program has a new release, and it installs a new desktop file
> > with different Exec or TryExec keys. Apparantly, the user-created one
> > is broken.
> >
> > 2. Having to copy the system-wide desktop files to make a custom one
> > is not only quite dirty, but also make unnecessary duplicated files.
> > For desktop files containing a lot of translation (like the desktop
> > files owned by gnome), this does matters.
> >
> > 3. If the new releases of programs have new names, or change the
> > description (comment) in their new system-wide desktop file installed
> > in /usr/share/applications, these changes will never be reflected in
> > the user custom one.
> >
> > 4. The user custom one, will lack some translation. When the users
> > login to desktop in another language, they can only get English names
> > even if new translation is already available in the system-wide one
> > after system update. Any change to the system-wide desktop entry files
> > will never be reflected in the user custom one.
> >
> > So, current approach is some what dirty, problematic, and hard to
> > implement and maintain.
> second that, I've run into this problem also

Yeah, I've been hit by this in the past too. I believe it was already
(at least partly) discussed, when talking about the autostart
specification. Can't find the thread, though.

> > Here is a proposal trying to fix these problems by adding a new key
> > named "Inherit".
> I don't think we actually need a new key, we already have the base-dir spec 
> to determine which .desktop file will take precedence.

Agree that if done, it should be done with the base-dir spec.

However, there's a big issue: if I put totem.desktop in $XDG_DATA_HOME
just to change the name (so I just put a Name key there), what happens
if totem is deinstalled? How can I know totem.desktop should be ignored?


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