When you rename files into a different, most of the times it does not work. But, suppose you have a .png file, you can just rename "image.png" to "image.jpeg" or "image.gif", it automatically gets converted to the other format and works perfectly fine. Is there some similarity between these formats which allows this to be done? I had noticed this a few years back, and got interested when I was trying too convert a .dvi file to a .pdf file, a just renaming it worked.
This is what probably happens. The application designated to open files with the file types you mention, is the same across all of those. .gif, .jpg, .png: these are all handled by EOG (GNOME's Eye Of Gnome). I suspect this application does not determine the file type based on the extension, rather it seeks for the magic number.
Note that the behavior of EOG may very well be exceptional, and also beware that no actual conversion is done. It's just that Linux applications tend to rely on different detection methods than file extensions, though many modern desktops actually look for the file extension to determine what application to open, since this method is probably quicker.
This all may apply to Ubuntu, Windows is a completely different story. Explorer practices a behavior by default that cuts off the file extension from the filename. This way, a file named "document.pdf" will show as "document", and renaming it to "document.dvi" will actually be processed as "document.dvi.pdf". Viruses sometimes exploit this "feature" by making the user believe they are opening a .jpg, while in reality they are being tricked into running a malicious exe!
To be really sure about filetypes, there is a command called
From my personal experience, I can tell that, at least on my system, EOG cannot be tricked into recognizing a renamed image file. You must be doing something different than I do.
The default program is EOG (Eye of Gnome) as other answerer says. If you even remove the extension, it can open them also.
As for the