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Over the time there is an increasing number of hidden .configuration folders in my home folder.

Many of these come from applications I only installed for testing or from applications that I don't use any more. I would not mind really but these folders do clutter my home, and worse than that sum up to as much as 80 GBytes by now. As there are also applications I never heard of (at least I can't remember I had installed them) I hesitate to delete them.

Is there a way to find out which folders came from purged applications? May there even be a way to auto-remove a configuration folder when purging (not removing) the application that created it?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I can't think of a quick fix short of going through deleting what you know isn't installed and manually Googling what you can't identify. It's a horrible problem that I've just opted for the Etch-a-Sketch method and either deleted my whole profile or have deleted large chunks of it (.config, .gnome-2, etc)

The only long term solution I could think of doing this is setting up an online database of:

  • Packages
  • What configuration paths they use

You'd store that information in a simple JSON "database", perhaps gzip it and store it somewhere online.

You'd then have a tool that downloaded this global list and scanned the paths, looking for corresponding paths in the user's home. Where there are matches, you check the package list to see if that package is still installed. If it's not, it goes on a death-list.

After that scan, the user gets a list of available clean-up operations (with detail on what package the program thinks it is) and it given the option to nuke whatever they like.

In a perfect world, we'd have this integrated right into the packaging system (and have apt-get clean-my-home), but I think that's a pipe dream. Maintainers would have to do a ton of work on top of requiring reengineering the package database formats (which are shakey enough already).

As getting this written into the fabric of each package is unappealing, there also needs to be some sort of interface for normal people to suggest paths for packages. (As it's my dayjob) I'd probably suggest a quick and dirty web-app where people can make their suggestions and MOTUs, Ubuntu members, etc can moderate the flow to make sure people aren't suggesting potentially dangerous searches.

As it is, it's going to require a whole load of manpower to get the however-many thousand apps that write home-files.

This is an interesting problem. This might give me a good excuse to play with Quickly's cli template (Quickly because I'm a Pythonista and also because packaging scares me).

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Thank you for again very clear ideas - I like the idea of apt-get clean-home. ACK it's a pain to figure out what apps use which path when. I was thinking of something like "last read acess" to filter for unused apps (to suggest them for removal) but IMO this has to be discarded as not safe. If all apps would consistently store user configs in ~/.nameofpackage then an option like e.g apt-get purge-all could look for a dot-folder in HOME. Still then, a package manager that does things in /home is probably a bad idea. – Takkat Feb 1 '11 at 8:22
I'm not against a package manager messing around in $home, just as long as it tells you what it's going to do (and why) before it does it. – Oli Feb 1 '11 at 11:21

Have you tried ubuntu-tweak for getting rid of old conf-files? :) You can also use sudo apt-get purge PACKET-NAME to really get rid of the package.

*Edit: You can also try sudo apt-get install bleachbit for 'easy' tidying.

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Thank you for your answer, but I was asking for the hidden folders in my /home folder. They won't get removed when purging (BTW that is good so: don't touch my home!). – Takkat Jan 31 '11 at 23:04

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