When you go to "Startup Applications", you see a list of commands that are executed at startup and you can add your own.

I would like to know where this list is stored. Is it in gconf somewhere?

There are two reasons I want to know this:

  • add commands programmatically
  • disable some commands (in Oneiric, the default ones are not shown anymore)

As per the Desktop Application Autostart Specification, which Ubuntu and all major desktop environments like Gnome, LXDE, XFCE follow, the Startup Applications are .desktop files stored per-user in


And also globally, for all users, in


(this is a simplification, the real directories are determined by XDG Base Directory Specification)

The enable/disable feature is provided by this attribute in each .desktop file:

X-GNOME-Autostart-enabled=true (or false)

If a user toggles enable/disable status of a given application (without deleting it) that was in the system folder, it is copied to the user directory and then the attribute X-GNOME-Autostart-enabled is changed. If a user deletes a given application from the list, the .desktop is copied to user folder with the Hidden=true attribute (or the file is simply deleted if it was present just in the user directory)

Files in both user and system folder does not need to be marked as executable. Default permission is 644 (rw-r--r--). Executable permission for .desktop files are only useful for launchers in your desktop area (the workspace), so they show their icon and allow double-click to start the application. For Dash, Launcher, Autostart and menus in general the executable bit is irrelevant.

  • 1
    Thanks, this was helpful. The same paths also work for Kubuntu. – ctd Sep 30 '11 at 0:50
  • @ctd: (most of) it should work in other desktops as well, like XFCE and LXDE, since this is a standard made by FreeDesktop.org and aimed at cross-desktop compatibility. – MestreLion Nov 12 '12 at 5:27
  • Awesome! This means one could use the startup applications to mount encrypted veracypt containers, and the command including the key would be safe in the user's encrypted home directory. They would just have to use visudo to allow root permissions to veracrypt without password for that user. – nhorning Sep 12 '17 at 20:29

I use xfce and what I have found is most of system related autostart commands such as

power-managers, gnome-keyring, ubuntuone, blueman etc

are stored in /etc/xdg/autostart while most of user specific autostart are located at

$USER/.config/autostart You may have a look at those 2 places.

  • /etc/xdg/autostart are for system and will work for all users – Pavak Paul Feb 15 '14 at 19:35

In KDE it's in


This has been depreciated, KDE Plasma now follows the XDG spec. System wide startup dir is found in /etc/xdg/autostart and user specific ones in ~/.config/autostart

I have a script there which starts Krusader:

 krusader &

Don't forget to make the scripts You'll put in Autostart - to be executable.

  • 2
    KDE used to have its own autostart directories, but nowadays they follow the XDG spec. Maybe ~/.kde/Autostart still works too, but for cross-compability it's better to use the XDG dirs – MestreLion May 16 '13 at 11:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.