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freedesktop standard

 XDG = Cross-Desktop Group 




Desktop base directories (basedir) 

Desktop entries (.desktop) 

Desktop menus (menu) 

File manager D-Bus interface 

File URIs 

Free media player specifications 

Media Player Remote Interfacing Specification (MPRIS) 

Shared MIME database (shared-mime-info) 

Startup notifications 


XML Bookmark Exchange Language (XBEL) 


x11 specs



Window manager specification 

 X clipboard explanation 



1. autostart-spec


no XDG_CONFIG_HOME     use    ~/.config/autostart/  

no $XDG_CONFIG_DIRS use    /etc/xdg/autostart/ 


mount media 

() autostart files: precendence: .autorun, autorun,

() autoopen :precedence: .autoopen, autoopen 



 2. basedir-spec

$XDG_DATA_HOME             $HOME/.local/share

$XDG_CONFIG_HOME       $HOME/.config

$XDG_STATE_HOME       $HOME/.local/state, $XDG_DATA_HOME,

user binaries           $HOME/.local/bin

$XDG_DATA_DIRS         $XDG_DATA_HOME,  /usr/local/share/:/usr/share/ 


$XDG_CACHE_HOME       $HOME/.cache

$XDG_RUNTIME_DIR       access mode MUST be 0700.

All paths set in these environment variables must be absolute




Desktop entry files  has .desktop or .directory and name must be valid D-Bus well-known name reverse dns style(special only - and _ allowed)


Desktop File ID

/usr/share/applications/foo/bar.desktop has the desktop file ID foo-bar.desktop.

(replace / with - relative to $XDG_DATA_DIRS)

only $XDG_DATA_DIRS/applications has ID other dirs no id


# and blank lines defines comment

[groupname] = group header with name groupname
Desktop Entry group header must be present its used as "magic key" for mime detection
There should be nothing preceding this group in .desktopfile except comment
entries are  defined as Key=Value 
Multiple keys in the same group may not have the same name. 
multiple values should be separated by a semicolon,semicolon as value must be escaped by \

Localized values for keys


LOCALE= lang_COUNTRY.ENCODING@MODIFIER (lang is cmompulsary ) 
LC_MESSAGES = LOCALE is selected 
Type,Name,GenericName,NoDisplay,Comment,Icon,Hidden,OnlyShowIn, NotShowIn,DBusActivatable
FIle code
%f = single file name
%F= multiple file names
%u =single url
%U= multi url
only one of above can be used at once 
%[d,D,n,N,v,m] =depreciated    
%i= expand icon key as --icon and value 
%c= translated name of app
%k = location of .desktop

D-Bus Activation


  <interface name='org.freedesktop.Application'>
    <method name='Activate'>
      <arg type='a{sv}' name='platform_data' direction='in'/>
    <method name='Open'>
      <arg type='as' name='uris' direction='in'/>
      <arg type='a{sv}' name='platform_data' direction='in'/>
    <method name='ActivateAction'>
      <arg type='s' name='action_name' direction='in'/>
      <arg type='av' name='parameter' direction='in'/>
      <arg type='a{sv}' name='platform_data' direction='in'/>
Methods :: 
Activate = used when there is no files to open
Open =  app is started with files
ActivateAction= when DesktopActions are activated
Arguments of Methods::
desktop-startup-id= same as DESKTOP_STARTUP_ID environment variable (Startup Notification Protocol Specification)  .
activation-tokenXDG_ACTIVATION_TOKEN, as per  as specified by the XDG Activation protocol


 declared by implements key

Registering MIME Types

  MimeType key shows supported mimetype


Additional applications actions

 actions are used to define quicklist or jumplist

Action identifier

each action is identified with string(action identifier)
Each identifier is associated with an action group
The action group is a group named Desktop Action %s, where %s is action identifier.
action group for an action identifier not mentioned in the Actions key is invalid

Action keys




[Desktop Entry]
Name=Foo Viewer
Comment=The best viewer for Foo objects available!
Exec=fooview %F

[Desktop Action Gallery]
Exec=fooview --gallery
Name=Browse Gallery

[Desktop Action Create]
Exec=fooview --create-new
Name=Create a new Foo!


desktop entries : Categories, OnlyShowIn and NotShowIn

<Menu> <AppDir><DefaultAppDirs><DirectoryDir><Name><Directory> 

<OnlyUnallocated><NotOnlyUnallocated><Deleted> <NotDeleted><Include><Exclude><Filename><Category><All><And><Or><Not><Separator>



   <!DOCTYPE Menu PUBLIC "-//freedesktop//DTD Menu 1.0//EN"

            <-- Search the default locations -->
            <-- Merge third-party submenus -->

            <-- Merge legacy hierarchy -->

            <-- Define default layout -->
              <Merge type="menus"/>
              <Merge type="files"/>

            <-- some random moves, maybe to clean up legacy dirs, 
                   maybe from menu editing -->

            <-- A preferences submenu, kept in a separate file 
                   so it can also be used standalone -->

            <-- An Office submenu, specified inline -->
/usr/share,/etc/xdg, /usr/local/share ,$HOME/.local/share


File Manager DBus Interface


  <interface name='org.freedesktop.FileManager1'>
    <method name='ShowFolders'>
      <arg type='as' name='URIs' direction='in'/>
      <arg type='s' name='StartupId' direction='in'/>
    <method name='ShowItems'>
      <arg type='as' name='URIs' direction='in'/>
      <arg type='s' name='StartupId' direction='in'/>
    <method name='ShowItemProperties'>
      <arg type='as' name='URIs' direction='in'/>
      <arg type='s' name='StartupId' direction='in'/>
 org.freedesktop.FileManager1, /org/freedesktop/FileManager1 








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