Home Directory Clutter...
tytso at mit.edu
Wed May 15 14:42:22 PDT 2002
On Tue, May 14, 2002 at 10:41:18AM -0400, Charles Marcus wrote:
> I have been trying in vain to discover if it is possible to change where apps
> store their hidden files/folders that are currently installed into the root of
> each users Home directory.
> I finally have permission to start migrating our Win2K network over to Linux
> (yay!), but this is one issue that has always bugged me about Linux (not
> enough to keep me from switching, but I have already had support situations
> where idiot users deleted some or all of these hidden files, then came crying
> to me when stuff stopped working).
This seems to me to be a user education question. If they are going
to delete dot files (which are normally hideen and not displayed by
the ls command), what makes you think they won't delete files in a
file named /home/stupid_user/system, or even /home/stupid_user/.system?
In any case, the LSB's main goal is to promote binary application
interopability between different Linux distributions. Also, the LSB
tries as much as possible to lag standard practice; for the most part,
unless it's necessary to promote application interoperability (which
is our main goal), we try very hard to avoid dictating new behaviour.
In this particular case, Unix tradition over decades is that
application startup files/folders live in the home directory, and that
ls will not display such files to users. There are literally hundreds
of thousands of programs out there which obey this tradition, and
simply having the LSB dictate a new way of doing things would just
simply get us laughed at. After all, many of these programs need to
work not just on Linux, but on all of the other flavors of Unix
systems out there.
> My suggestion is for the creation of a variable for this purpose -
> $HOME_HIDDEN or something like this, that all apps would use to install/store
> their stuff, so that the users home directory would be virtually empty.
You could try lobbying all of the application writers to look for
$HOME_HIDDEN, and if it is present, use it instead of $HOME. But it
would take a lot of work to get even a small percentage of
applications to accept this particular convention. One of the reasons
why many application writers will be resistant is that it's not
obvious it will do any good. After all, if stupid users are going to
be randomly deleting files without thoughts to the consequences,
simply moving them somewhere else isn't necessarily going to solve
I can imagine somethings which might be more doable --- for example,
if you're using a GUI desktop under Linux, then the default should
probably be for the filesystem browser to not display dot-files in the
directory explorer window. If the user wants to GUI browser to
display the hidden dot files, then there should be a special UI button
where this ot to be requested --- with appropriate warnings that
deleting files you don't know or understand will likely get you into
trouble. (This is what Microsoft does if you try to open up the
C:\Windows directory these days; it asks if you really want to go here
> p.s. as a temporary workaround, is there a system level solution for hiding
> hidden files/directories from normal users, so that even if they enable 'View
> Hidden Files' from their preferred file manager, they would still not see
Nope; not really. Maybe the file manager can display a big warning
message when they try to enable "View hidden files" ("YOU CAN GET
YOURSELF IN A LOT OF TROUBLE IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING.
ARE YOU SURE?" followed by "ARE YOU REALLY SURE?")
But the bottom line seems to be roughly equivalent to asking what how
do you handle problems where users try to pick up lawnmowers to trim
hedges, and then they lose a foot when they drop the lawnmower by
accident. Or what do you do when someone spills coffee on themself,
gets burned, and then sues the restaurant involved. Yes, there are a
lot of idiots in the world. But it's impossible to make software
fool-prof, because fools are so ingenious....
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