My question arises out of frustration and curiosity for the reasons behind the mess. Let me ask by example, all referring to the home folder:

thunderbird stores its files in .thunderbird

google chrome stores in .config/google-chrome

rhythmbox is all over the place from .gconf to .local/share and .gnome2

So from what I see, ~/, .config,.gnome2, and .local/share seem to be serving the same purpose of storing user configurations and databases. Why is it so inconsistent?

It makes it a super nightmare if you want to share configurations between 2 operating systems like fedora and ubuntu or even two ubuntu versions like lucid and oneiric.


Well, every distro will handle configurations the way they think its best, every distro will use the tools they find best for the job (ie dont tell any Arch Linux guy that you are going to create a GUI tool to handle the mirrors list! You will get a big reply saying "THRERE IS ALREADY SEVERAL AND THEY ARE CALLED TEXT EDITORS").

It just depends on the way of doing things and the package that was created for that distro. Packages are created to keep configurations here and there, they are not the same for the same package (they can be, but that's just coincidence).

I agree it looks a bit messy but it would be a bit tricky (if not impossible) to convince everyone to adopt a common place for all your configuration files. They are package dependent.

  • 1
    consequence of freedom ;) – Eshwar Oct 25 '11 at 8:39
  • yeah, in short words :) – Bruno Pereira Oct 25 '11 at 9:31

as a thumb rule,

  1. settings in /etc/ are system wide i.e. they would be the default setting.
  2. settings in $HOME/ would be the user specific settings.
  • Thanks Vineet. I understand the /etc and $HOME/ distinction. Its just within home I don't understand why. – Eshwar Oct 25 '11 at 8:38

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