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  1. I was wondering what the default hidden folders under ~?
  2. What are their purposes? For example, what are the purposes of ~/.local/ and ~/.local/share/ ?
  3. Which of these hidden folders also exist in general Linux distributions?

My Ubuntu is 10.10.

Thanks and regards!

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Some common hidden folders in Ubuntu:

  • .cache - The folder where user specific non-essential data files should be stored. Usually cached data, like album covers for Banshee, avatars for Empathy, etc.
  • .compiz - used by Compiz Window Manager.
  • .config - The folder where user specific configuration files should be stored.
  • .dbus - used by the D-BUS message bus system.
  • .gconf - GConf settings.
  • .gnome2 - used by some GNOME 2 applications like the GNOME keyring.
  • .gvfs - data folder for the GNOME virtual filesystem.
  • .local/share - The folder where user specific data files should be stored.
  • .mozilla - settings for the Mozilla Firefox web browser.
  • .pulse - used by the PulseAudio audio system.
  • .thumbnails - Thumbnails for pictures, videos, etc. (used by Nautilus)

You can find more information in the XDG Base Directory Specification.

Many applications have their own hidden folders like Shotwell (.shotwell), LibreOffice (.libreoffice) to store application-specific data.

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Thanks! Excluding those for applications specific to Ubuntu, do some of them also appear in other Linux distributions? – Tim Jun 7 '11 at 22:52
Is XDG Base Directory Specification some specification for desktop environment, such as Gnome, KDE? – Tim Jun 7 '11 at 22:55 specifications (like XDG Base directory) are cross-desktop specifications (so not just GNOME). More information: Other distributions have similar directory structure but there might be differences depending on the distribution, default desktop environment, applications, etc. – toros Jun 7 '11 at 23:21

Certainly it is an interesting question that I am not certain how to answer. What I see in my home directory are a number of hidden subdirectories. These hidden subdirectories are often associated with personal configurations for various applications and/or applications that I have installed on an individual, instead of system, level.

Over the years I have been seeing the use of these hidden sub-directories increase. A quick look at what is in my home directory leads me to believe that some commonality between Linux distributions does not necessarily exist. It really depends on the application of choice. That is, if I use Banshee in both Fedora and Ubuntu, I would expect that I would have similar configuration files.

I am not certain this this response has actually answered your question. Perhaps a better answer might be: "It depends".

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Thanks! I am not asking about hidden folders created by applications installed later by users. Instead I am asking about those by default installed by the OS. – Tim Jun 7 '11 at 22:31
A quick look would lead me to believe that the OS is not installing any hidden directories. Please correct me if I am wrong. – Kory Wnuk Jun 7 '11 at 22:44
I think OS is installing files only in /bin /lib /usr – Extender Jun 8 '11 at 3:05
@Extender, I checked my home directory and I do not have the aforementioned subdirectory, hidden or otherwise. – Kory Wnuk Jun 8 '11 at 23:20

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