Monday, October 8, 2007

New Directories in 7.10 (Gutsy) Causing Confusion

This post shows that a new feature of Ubuntu 7.10 is causing confusion for a few users. Really the feature is an implementation of the XDG Base Directory Specification from

This creates specific directories for user files, allowing XDG compliant applications to search in these locations automatically. It also allows for localization (that means translation into the language of choice) of these directories without losing the benefits of standard location -- it's done on the fly during login and the location of the files is kept in a standard configuration file.

The upshot is that new users can move all their music to the Music directory and expect that newer audio players will know where to look for the music library. There won't be as much of a need for first-time wizards and the like. Rhythmbox will be ready with your music collection the first time you start it. Talk about ease of use!!!

My suggestion to older Ubuntu (and other Linux) users? "Move (or link) your files to the standard locations. has improved the desktop Linux experience by ten-fold. Accept the standard and work within it."




The renaming solutions is what I've started doing. It's a little bit annoying. I just wish that they'd have come up with a more elegant solution than just blindly creating the directories.

Anonymous said...

I know where my files are.
Wasn't linux supposed to be about freedom? I want to be free to keep my documents is /mnt/remote-share/.

And the OS shouldn't get in my way. They look like the hatred directories windows creates with each account.

Notice that standards do not apply here, from a strict point of view. Standards are useful to communicate information to people, think of html, xhtml, odf...

Here no useful information is given to the user. The information is given to the application so that they can auto-configure. These kind of things made me switch from windows to linux on every machine I own. Now I know I don't want to run Ubuntu, if that's the philosophy behind it.

I'm glad Debian will never force this on me.


That's cool. If you don't like that way to go, then you can use whichever distro you want to use.

Even if you use Ubuntu, you can still delete the folders and change the default save location for each application.

Bottom line is that this doesn't take away any of your freedom. It just sets reasonable defaults out of the box, making life easier on the new user.

Paul said...

Move is not an option, if for example your Music library is on an external or network drive.

Link did not Work with me and Rhythmbox, because Sound Juicer added the file with the physical position to the library and Rhythmbox found the file once again through the link. All tracks then appeared twice. It reminded me very much of Windows.

I think this will only be a feature if it is accompanied by a manual entry and a GUI-Configuration. One should be able to replace the standard folders by any others, not only automatic localization. Probably thats an issue of XDG.



There are workarounds. If your music is on an external drive, create a file called .is_audio_player and Rhythmbox will recognize, scan, and provide your music collection in the external devices section of the side pane.

If your music is on a network drive (I have one), I heartily recommend setting up mt-daapd to share your music using the DAAP (iTunes) protocol. Playing music is simple.

There isn't a graphical interface, but changing the folders is as simple as editing ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs


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