A Lawless Land Ruled by Dots

By setsevireon

Everybody (maybe not) loves standards. It makes life much easier as you don’t have to make unnecessary choices and helps to keep compatibility between software. The problem is a paradox, we like standards, we just don’t like the ones that already exist, what we really want, is to create a new, better and universal one, and if others do not like, they are just wrong.

When it comes to directory hierarchy, we are well-served. I know, FHS is not equally implemented across all distros, nonetheless, you can, mostly, expect things to be where they should. At least system wide, where it is really important.

The user home directory, on the other hand, is a lawless land, ruled by dots. It is difficult to distinguish what is configuration, data, local binaries and libraries or temporary files. I must admit, It bugs me to have a bunch of dotfiles scattered over my homedir to the point of writing a blog post about it.

Enters XDG Base Directory Specification.

Using $XDG_DATA_HOME, $XDG_CONFIG_HOME and $XDG_CACHE_HOME has become somewhat common. Many applications now support it, to other it is the default.

So, problem solved, right?

Not quite. There is, still, resistance from project maintainers to add support to it, some of then have even ruled out this possibility. Mostly they are fossilized developers, with fossilized ideas, and no youngster should tell them what to do (a bit too harsh?).

There is a good reason not to hard-code user configuration, while the system should be as agnostic to user’s preferences as possible, user’s home should be adaptable to each ones workflow and organizational system. I don’t think XDG solution is the ideal one, but is the best attempt so far.