Difference between revisions of "XDG Base Directory"

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(Undo revision 458826 by Skimj (talk) not part of the specification, already mentioned in the note above)
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| {{ic|~/.toprc}}
| {{ic|~/.toprc}}
| [https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1155265]
| [https://gitlab.com/procps-ng/procps/merge_requests/38] [https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1155265]

Revision as of 20:26, 11 January 2017

This article exists to catalog the growing set of software using the XDG Base Directory Specification introduced in 2003. This is here to demonstrate the viability of this specification by listing commonly found dotfiles and their support status. For those not currently supporting the Base Directory Specification, workarounds will be demonstrated to emulate it instead.

The workarounds will be limited to anything not involving patching the source, executing code stored in environment variables or compile-time options. The rationale for this is that configurations should be portable across systems and having compile-time options prevent that.

Hopefully this will provide a source of information about exactly what certain kinds of dotfiles are and where they come from.

The XDG Base Directory specification

Please read the full specification. This section will attempt to break down the essence of what it tries to achieve.

Only XDG_RUNTIME_DIR is set by default through pam_systemd. It is up to the user to explicitly define the other variables, using absolute paths that point to existing directories; see FS#31204 and [1].

User directories

    • Where user-specific configurations should be written (analogous to /etc).
    • Should default to $HOME/.config.
    • Where user-specific non-essential (cached) data should be written (analogous to /var/cache).
    • Should default to $HOME/.cache.
    • Where user-specific data files should be written (analogous to /usr/share).
    • Should default to $HOME/.local/share.
    • Used for non-essential, user-specific data files such as sockets, named pipes, etc.
    • Not required to have a default value; warnings should be issued if not set or equivalents provided.
    • Must be owned by the user with an access mode of 0700.
    • Filesystem fully featured by standards of OS.
    • Must be on the local filesystem.
    • May be subject to periodic cleanup.
    • Modified every 6 hours or set sticky bit if persistence is desired.
    • Can only exist for the duration of the user's login.
    • Should not store large files as it may be mounted as a tmpfs.

System directories

    • List of directories seperated by : (analogous to PATH).
    • Should default to /usr/local/share:/usr/share.
    • List of directories seperated by : (analogous to PATH).
    • Should default to /etc/xdg.


These directories and files are unlikely to ever change, there is far too much historical baggage and most tools written expect these files and directories to exist in these locations.

While some of these tools are still in active development and maintainence, the developers are unwilling to accommodate for the necessary changes due to the aforementioned reasons.

Assumed to be present by many ssh daemons and clients such as DropBear and OpenSSH. OpenSSH Bug 2050
Part of Mozilla's NSS Project.
Like ~/.ssh, many programs expect this file to be here. These include projects like curl (CURLOPT_NETRC_FILE), ftp (NETRC), s-nail (NETRC), etc. While some of them offer alternative configurable locations, many do not such as w3m, wget and lftp.
Used by the various shells and display managers, this file is expected to be here much like ~/.netrc.


When contributing make sure to use the correct section.

Nothing should require code evaluation (such as vim and VIMINIT), patches or compile-time options to gain support and anything which does must be deemed hardcoded. Additionally if the process is too error prone or difficult, such as Haskell's cabal or eclipse, they should also be considered as hardcoded.

  • The first column should be the project name, ideally the command name if it is not ambigious, linked to their website or an appropriate internal wiki article.
  • The second column is for any legacy files and directories the project had, this is done so people can find them even if they are no longer read.
  • In the third, try to find the commit or version a project switched to XDG Base Directory or any open discussions and include them in the next two columns.
  • Finally the fourth should include any appropriate workarounds or solutions for unsupported projects. Be terse, this article assumes intelligence and good charity from the reader. If something is unclear then feel free to expend some explanation to clarify it.

Lastly, and this goes without saying, please verify that your solution is correct and functional.


Application Legacy Path Supported Since Discussion Notes
antimicro ~/.antimicro edba864 [2]
aria2 ~/.aria2 8bc1d37 [3]
blender ~/.blender 4293f473 [4]
burp f2388e9
chromium ~/.chromium 23057 [5] [6]
citra ~/.citra-emu f7c3193fec [7]
cower 8b70805
d-feet ~/.d-feet 7f6104b
dolphin-emu ~/.dolphin-emu a498c68 [8]
dunst 78b6e2b1 [9]
fontconfig ~/.fontconfig 8c255fb1
fontforge ~/.FontForge ~/.PfaEdit e4c2cc7432 [10] [11]
fontconfig ~/.fonts Use "$XDG_DATA_HOME"/fonts instead.
freerdp ~/.freerdp edf6e7258d
gconf ~/.gconf fc28caa7 [12]
git ~/.gitconfig 0d94427e
gstreamer-1.0 4e36f93924cf [13]
htop ~/.htoprc 93233a67
i3 ~/.i3 7c130fb54
i3status ~/.i3status.conf c3f7fc4994
inkscape ~/.inkscape 0.47 [14]
latexmk ~/.latexmkrc 2016-08-17
lftp ~/.lftp 21dc400 [15]
lgogdownloader ~/.gogdownloader d430af63d000 [16]
LibreOffice a6f56f70 25bd2eec [17]
livestreamer ~/.livestreamerrc ea805917 [18]
llpp 3ab86f0cb Currently llpp places the configuration directly under XDG_CONFIG_HOME instead of creating a directory.
mc ~/.mc 1b9957058 0b7115647 ce401d797 [19]
mintty ~/.minttyrc cff1bd8f v2.3.7. [20]
milkytracker ~/.milkytracker_config eb487c55 [21]
mpd ~/.mpdconf 87b73284
mpv ~/.mpv cb250d490 [22]
mutt ~/.mutt 42fee7585f [23]
mypaint ~/.mypaint cf723b74cd
ncmpcpp ~/.ncmpcpp 38d9f811 27cd86e0 [24] [25] ncmpcpp_directory should be set to avoid an error.log file in ~/.ncmpcpp.
neovim ~/.nvim ~/.nvimlog ~/.nviminfo 1ca5646bb [26] [27]
newsbeuter ~/.newsbeuter 3c57824c5 [28] It is required to create both "$XDG_DATA_HOME"/newsbeuter and "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/newsbeuter [29]
OfflineIMAP ~/.offlineimaprc 5150de5 [30]
opentyrian ~/.opentyrian 8d45ff2 [31]
pcsx2 ~/.pcsx2 87f1e8f77 a9020c606 3b22f0fb0 0a012aec2 [32] [33]
ppsspp ~/.ppsspp 132fe47c7d [34]
pacman ~/.makepkg.conf 80eca94c8 [35]
PulseAudio ~/.pulse ~/.pulse-cookie 59a8618dcd9 87ae8307057 9ab510a6921 4c195bcc9d5 [36]
qtile fd8686e 66d704b 51cff01 [37] Some optional bar widgets can create files and directories in non-compliant paths, but most often these are still configurable.
rr ~/.rr 02e7d41e [38]
surfraw ~/.surfraw.conf ~/.surfraw.bookmarks 3e4591d8 bd8c427d f57fc718
sway ~/.sway/config 614393c09 [39]
transmission ~/.transmission 5517 [40]
util-linux 570b32100
VLC media player ~/.vlcrc 16f32e15 [41]
wireshark ~/.wireshark b0b53fa5
xsettingsd ~/.xsettingsd 4ecd7be
warsow ~/.warsow-2.x 98ece3f [42]
uzbl c6fd63a [43]
VirtualBox ~/.VirtualBox 4.3 [44]


Application Legacy Path Supported Since Discussion Notes
abook ~/.abook $ abook --config "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/abook/abookrc \

--datafile "$XDG_CACHE_HOME"/abook/addressbook

Atom ~/.atom $ export ATOM_HOME="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/atom
aspell ~/.aspell.conf
cargo ~/.cargo [45] [46] $ export CARGO_HOME="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/cargo
ccache ~/.ccache $ export CCACHE_DIR="$XDG_CACHE_HOME"/ccache
conky ~/.conkyrc 00481ee [47] $ conky --config="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/conky/conkyrc
crawl ~/.crawl $ export CRAWL_DIR="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/crawl/ # Trailing '/' is required.
composer ~/.composer $ export COMPOSER_HOME="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/composer


coreutils ~/.dircolors $ source "$(dircolors "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/dircolors)"
dict ~/.dictrc $ dict -c "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/dict/dictrc
ELinks ~/.elinks $ export ELINKS_CONFDIR="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/elinks
emscripten ~/.emscripten ~/.emscripten_sanity ~/.emscripten_ports ~/.emscripten_cache__last_clear 3624 $ export EM_CONFIG="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/emscripten/config

$ export EM_CACHE="$XDG_CACHE_HOME"/emscripten/cache $ export EM_PORTS="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/emscripten/cache $ emcc --em-config "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/emscripten/config --em-cache "$XDG_CACHE_HOME"/emscripten/cache

PulseAudio ~/.esd_auth Very likely generated by the module-esound-protocol-unix.so module. It can be configured to use a different location but it makes much more sense to just comment out this module in /etc/pulse/default.pa or "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/pulse/default.pa.
gdb ~/.gdbinit $ gdb -nh -x "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/gdb/init
GIMP ~/.gimp-2.8 60e0cfe [48] [49] $ export GIMP2_DIRECTORY="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/gimp
gliv ~/.glivrc $ gliv --glivrc="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/gliv/glivrc
GnuPG ~/.gnupg [50] [51] $ export GNUPGHOME="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/gnupg

$ gpg2 --homedir "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/gnupg

gtk2 ~/.gtkrc-2.0 $ export GTK2_RC_FILES="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/gtk-2.0/gtkrc
gtk ~/.gtkrc $ export GTK_RC_FILES="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/gtk-1.0/gtkrc
httpie ~/.httpie [52] $ export HTTPIE_CONFIG_DIR="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/httpie
irssi ~/.irssi [53] irssi --config="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/irssi/config --home="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/irssi
ipython/jupyter ~/.ipython $ export IPYTHONDIR="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/jupyter


isync ~/.mbsyncrc $ mbsync -c "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/isync/mbsyncrc
libice ~/.ICEauthority $ export ICEAUTHORITY="$XDG_RUNTIME_DIR"/X11/iceauthority
less ~/.lesshst $ export LESSHISTFILE="$XDG_CACHE_HOME"/less/history (It is required to create the "$XDG_CACHE_HOME"/less directory manually.)

$ export LESSHISTFILE=- can be used to disable this feature.

$ export LESSKEY="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/less/lesskey

libdvdcss ~/.dvdcss [54] $ export DVDCSS_CACHE="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/dvdcss
ltrace ~/.ltrace.conf $ ltrace -F "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/ltrace/ltrace.conf
Mathematica ~/.Mathematica $ export MATHEMATICA_USERBASE="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/mathematica
mednafen ~/.mednafen $ export MEDNAFEN_HOME="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/mednafen
moc ~/.moc $ mocp -M "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/moc

$ mocp -O MOCDir="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/moc

MPlayer ~/.mplayer $ export MPLAYER_HOME="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/mplayer
notmuch ~/.notmuch-config [55] $ export NOTMUCH_CONFIG="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/notmuch/notmuchrc

$ export NMBGIT="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/notmuch/nmbug

ncurses ~/.terminfo $ export TERMINFO="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/terminfo # Precludes system path searching.

$ export TERMINFO_DIRS="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/terminfo:/usr/share/terminfo

npm ~/.npm ~/.npmrc [56] $ export NPM_CONFIG_USERCONFIG=$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/npm/npmrc


openscad ~/.OpenSCAD 7c3077b0f [57] Does not fully honour XDG Base Directory Specification, see [58]

Currently it hard-codes ~/.local/share.

OpenSSL ~/.rnd Seeding file .rnd's location can be set with RANDFILE environment variable per FAQ.
pass ~/.password-store $ export PASSWORD_STORE_DIR="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/pass
pidgin ~/.purple $ pidgin --config="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/purple
python-setuptools ~/.python-eggs $ export PYTHON_EGG_CACHE="$XDG_CACHE_HOME"/python-eggs
readline ~/.inputrc $ export INPUTRC="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/readline/inputrc
rlwrap ~/.*_history [59] $ export RLWRAP_HOME="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/rlwrap
screen ~/.screenrc $ export SCREENRC="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/screen/screenrc
stack ~/.stack [60] $ export STACK_ROOT="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/stack
subversion ~/.subversion [61] [62][63] $ svn --config-dir "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/subversion
task ~/.task


$ export TASKDATA="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/task

$ export TASKRC="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/task/taskrc

tig ~/.tigrc $ export TIGRC_USER="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/tig/tigrc
tmux ~/.tmux.conf [64] [65] $ tmux -f "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/tmux/tmux.conf


urxvtd ~/.urxvt/urxvtd-hostname $ export RXVT_SOCKET="$XDG_RUNTIME_DIR"/urxvt/urxvt-"$(hostname)"
WeeChat ~/.weechat [66] $ export WEECHAT_HOME="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/weechat

$ weechat -d "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/weechat

wget ~/.wgetrc $ export WGETRC="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/wgetrc"
wine ~/.wine [67] $ export WINEPREFIX="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/wine
xorg-xauth ~/.Xauthority $ export XAUTHORITY="$XDG_RUNTIME_DIR"/X11/xauthority
libx11 ~/.XCompose $ export XCOMPOSEFILE="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/X11/xcompose
xorg-xinit ~/.xinitrc $ export XINITRC="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/X11/xinitrc
xorg-xrdb ~/.Xresources ~/.Xdefaults Ultimately you should be using Xresources and since these resources are loaded via xrdb you can specify a path such as xrdb -load ~/.config/X11/xresources.
uncrustify ~/.uncrustify.cfg $ export UNCRUSTIFY_CONFIG="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/uncrustify/uncrustify.cfg
xsel ~/.xsel.log [68] $ xsel --logfile "$XDG_CACHE_HOME"/xsel/xsel.log
ChezScheme ~/.chezscheme_history $ petite --eehistory "$XDG_DATA_HOME"/chezscheme/history
nvidia-settings ~/.nvidia-settings-rc $ nvidia-settings --config="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME"/nvidia/settings
get_iplayer ~/.get_iplayer $ export GETIPLAYERUSERPREFS="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/get_iplayer


Application Legacy Path Supported Since Discussion Notes
Apache Directory Studio ~/.ApacheDirectoryStudio
AMule ~/.aMule
bash ~/.bashrc ~/.bash_history ~/.bash_profile ~/.bash_login ~/.bash_logout [69]
  • A specified bashrc can be sourced from /etc/bashrc
  • export HISTFILE="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/bash/history
cabal ~/.cabal [70] See discussion for potential workarounds. It is not very easy or straightforward but may be possible to emulate Base Directory compliance.
CUPS ~/.cups [71]
dbus ~/.dbus [72] This should be avoidable with kdbus [citation needed].
eclipse ~/.eclipse [73] Option -Dosgi.configuration.area=@user.home/.config/.. overrides but must be added to "$ECLIPSE_HOME"/eclipse.ini" rather than command line which means you must have write access to $ECLIPSE_HOME. (Arch Linux hard-codes $ECLIPSE_HOME in /usr/bin/eclipse)
emacs ~/.emacs ~/.emacs.d [74] It's possible to set HOME, but it has unexpected side effects. So far the most promising approach is modifying another Emacs environment variable to alter the load path and author your own site file which can manually load up your init file, but it changes the load process significantly.
Fetchmail ~/.fetchmailrc
Firefox ~/.mozilla [75]
GNU parallel ~/.parallel
gstreamer-0.10 ~/.gstreamer-0.10 Use gstreamer-1.0 instead.
idris ~/.idris
julia ~/.juliarc.jl ~/.julia_history [76] [77]
lldb ~/.lldb ~/.lldbinit
mathomatic ~/.mathomaticrc ~/.matho_history History can be moved by using rlwrap mathomatic -r with the RLWRAP_HOME environment set appropriately.
Mercurial ~/.hgrc You cannot append to the configuration search paths, just overwrite them completely. That means you need to be careful to add all default folders: export HGRCPATH=/usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages/mercurial/default.d/:/etc/mercurial/hgrc:"${XDG_CONFIG_HOME}"/mercurial/hgrc

To find the default configuration paths, use this: env -u HGRCPATH hg debugconfig --debug | grep "read config"

milkytracker ~/.milkytracker_config [78]
mongodb ~/.mongorc.js ~/.dbshell [79] This Stack Overflow thread suggests a partial workaround using command-line switch --norc.
ncmpc ~/.ncmpc
palemoon ~/.moonchild productions [80]
perf ~/.debug Hardcoded in tools/perf/util/config.c:18.
python ~/.python_history All history from interactive sessions is saved to ~/.python_history by default since version 3.4, custom path can still be set the same way as in older versions (see this example).
procps-ng ~/.toprc [81] [82]
SeaMonkey ~/.mozilla [83]
Skype ~/.Skype [84]
SpamAssassin ~/.spamassassin
spectrwm ~/.spectrwm
SQLite ~/.sqlite_history [85][86]
Thunderbird ~/.thunderbird [87]
vim ~/.vim ~/.vimrc ~/.viminfo Since 7.3.1178 vim will search for ~/.vim/vimrc if ~/.vimrc is not found.
set undodir=~/.cache/vim/undo " vim will not create this directory.
set directory=~/.cache/vim/swap " vim will not create this directory.
set backupdir=~/.cache/vim/backup " vim will not create this directory.
set viminfo+=n~/.cache/vim/viminfo
vimperator ~/.vimperatorrc [88] $ export VIMPERATOR_INIT=":source $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/vimperator/vimperatorrc"


wpa_cli ~/.wpa_cli_history
xdg-utils ~/.gnome For some reason the script xdg-desktop-menu hard-codes gnome_user_dir="$HOME/.gnome/apps". This is used by chromium amoung others.
xmonad ~/.xmonad [89]
xombrero ~/.xombrero [90]
zsh ~/.zshrc ~/.zprofile ~/.zshenv ~/.zlogin ~/.zlogout ~/.histfile [91] Consider exporting ZDOTDIR=$HOME/.config/zsh in ~/.zshenv (this is hardcoded due to the bootstrap problem). You could also add this to /etc/zsh/zshenv and avoid the need for any dotfiles in your HOME. Doing this however requires root privilege which may not be viable and is system-wide.

export HISTFILE="$XDG_DATA_HOME"/zsh/history

racket ~/.racketrc

Library and language support

C99: Cloudef's simple implementation.
Officially in directory since ab9d0810ce.
Builtin support via GLib.Environment.
See get_user_cache_dir, get_user_data_dir, get_user_config_dir, etc.

See also