F8devel - user configuration storage locations

David Timms dtimms at iinet.net.au
Sun Jun 17 14:29:27 UTC 2007

Arthur Pemberton wrote:
> On 6/15/07, David Timms <dtimms at iinet.net.au> wrote:
>> Arthur Pemberton wrote:
>> > On 6/13/07, David Timms <dtimms at iinet.net.au> wrote:
>> >> A potential goal for Fedora:
>> >> Cleanup user settings configuration
>> >>
>> >> For a long time applications creates a {hidden} .mysetting file in the
>> >> user's home directory, if multiple config/settings under a
>> >> .myapp/.various files.
>> >
>> > I would hate this
>> That is the already the current state of play -or do I misread you ?
> I wasn't clear, I would hate forcing all apps into a single directory.
What I meant is that we could have a single sub dir that resides below 
the user's home directory. If an app currently uses the ~/ dir to store 
config, it would then store it in ~/config/ instead. If it creates it's 
own directory under ~/ to store its multiple {usually} config files, 
then in future it could store it in the same name folder underneath 

>> >> I think this should be tidied up by creating a single directory at the
>> >> users home folder to store all setting/configs that apps make.
>> >> - The folder should not be hidden.
>> >
>> > I would hate this even more
>> Is this hate directed toward the visibility, or to the idea of having
>> all settings in a subfolder of the user's home dir  ?
> Both. I applaud Windows for making system files hidden by default. A
> user who doesn't know how to unhide files shouldn't be playing with
> those files. It's a low bar, but I think a necessary one.
So maybe making it visible is perhaps not such a good idea.

>> >> - It should have a default text file indicating that it contains 
>> hidden
>> >> files that store settings for installed applications.
>> >
>> > why?
>> 1. So newsers know what it is and why it is there.
>> 2. So newsers don't try to erase it.
> See. In my opinion, you just created two problems by creating this
> config directory, and then gave a weak solution to them - I can't
> think of a stronger solution myself.
The configs are already there, it is just one folder higher in the 
directory tree, and interspersed between all the other user data files 
and directories. So tidying this up is actually a bad thing in your 
opinion or "simply difficult" ?

>> >> - All packages to use this folder
>> >
>> > good luck with that
>> For all I know this location is just some system call, environment
>> variable or something - does your experience show this would in fact
>> require individual adjustment of each app ?
> Yes, I'm pretty sure most programs just get the $HOME variable and put
> stuff in there. There's a separate $CONFIG variable (I think) which
> points to /etc. I do not think there's a $HOMECONFIG or equivalent
> variable.
I don't see one in the result of set. So a new environment variable 
$HOMECONFIG as a start.

>> >> I see some problems:
>> >> - breaks FHStandard ?
>> >> - every app would need to have a one time adjustment and package
>> >> rebuilt ?
>> >
>> > You make that sound trivial
>> Only because I haven't the foggiest what it would involve.
> I'm pretty sure it involves what you suggested "every app needs to
> have a one time adjustment and package rebuilt" , except the change
> would be the same, I'm not sure the exact adjustment would be the
> same.
And I would need to convince all application programmers to make the 
changes in their source, if that is the case. It would need to be 
universally accepted; Matej mentions the freedesktop standards,

>> Mine has over 2000 files. About 14 directories and 50 are files I put
>> there. Then there is 77 .folders and remainder what seems to be .config
>> files for various apps, and temp files of some sort:
>> .serverauth.2268 and similar dating back 8+ months.
> Do you use Gnome?
Yes, and over time there has been various little issues, apps needing 
death etc. But why did they have files in my home {main} folder in the 
first place.

>> Perhaps there should be more adherence to using the /tmp folder, or a
>> new special users/tmp folder that gets cleared each time the machine is
>> booted, or the user logged in ?
> Those folders aren't temporary, in the sense that the apps use them
> when they reopen (although most can be safely deleted)
Maybe they are more temporary state files, that aren't useful after a 
relogin/reboot. If so, isn't there better places for them.

>> >> - easily move/copy all user configs to backup or a different machine
>> >
>> > cp -a ~/.*
>> How do you do that in KDE, if it doesn't show the files ?
> Well that's a command prompt command. But anyways, in KDE it's
> extremely easy to switch between hidden files shown and not shown.

>> Would you be
>> able to configure a .textconfigfile from the filesystem viewer ? Would a
>> newser be able to work it out without guidance ?
> I would, but that is very rarely necessary. Rare enough that I have
> can remember doing it less than a half dozen times.
>> I realize that these ideas are probably so adverse to age-old unix ways
>> that it may not be possible to actually change it for existing apps ?
>> DaveT.
> That may be true, but they do in fact work quite well. These kind of
> files are use specific, so they are in the user's homedir, but aren't
> really for the toying of the average user, so they are hidden. They
> are in multiple directories since they are all already in home, and
> having them in another singer directory within home makes them a bit
> more vunerable to accidental deletion.
But they would still be .hidden files, therefore not easily deletable.

> Looking back on my response, it seems a bit disrespectful. I respect
> your suggestions, but I do not agree with them.
I understand - I imagine your time was short, but you wanted to say a 
lot, thanks for that.
Arthur, am I overstepping the mark by summarizing your view as "making 
config files visible would be a bad thing", but the general idea is sane   ?


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