Application launch files

Duncan 1i5t5.duncan at
Thu Apr 28 23:52:25 BST 2011

John Woodhouse posted on Thu, 28 Apr 2011 05:40:37 -0700 as excerpted:

> style="font-family:"times new roman", "new york", "times",
> serif;font-size:12pt"><div>I had problems with an application launch the
> other day. Soon found the .desktop files after noticing that a right
> click on the launch point didn't offer properties as per 3x. Also
> noticed that the content of the .desktop files looks to have
> changed.<br></div><div><br></div><div>Is this facility available via any
> other route?</div><div><br></div><div>How can .desktop file be generated
> and icons changed etc ?</div><div><br></div><div>Where can I find the
> doc on the .desktop file entries
> ?</div><div><br></div><div>John</div><div>Sorry about all of this email
> changing, should have gone here in the 1st
> place.</div><div><br></div><div>KDE 4.6.0 issue 6 on opensuse 11.4
> 64bit</div><div><br></div>

Please don't post HTML to the mailing lists.  Some of us choose to use 
clients configured to display it as plain-text-only, for security or 
simplicity reasons.  It can be said that folks posting in HTML are one of 
five kinds, (1) spammers who simply don't care and/or often use the HTML 
to hide some of their tricks, (2) malware spammers trying to use the HTML 
to exploit security vulns in specific HTML parsing clients, (3) newbie 
types not aware of the issues and of the strong reaction against HTML 
based on the above, (4) users who ordinarily wouldn't /think/ of posting 
in HTML but using an unfamiliar client that they've not fully setup, who 
thus post in it accidentally, unaware that they are doing so until someone 
points it out, as I'm doing here.  (This category may be considered part 
of #3 as they're newbies to their current client settings.) (5) People who 
choose to post in HTML simply to troll.  This might be fine for those who 
tend to answer more questions than they ask, but isn't a particularly good 
strategy for those asking questions themselves, as some that might 
otherwise reply with a useful answer will instead simply ignore the troll.

Depending on your client, you may see part or all of the scrambled mess 
that results, above.

*.desktop files are normally simply plain-text files in the *.ini format 
MS Windows 3 made famous, sections denoted by 

[titles in brackets]
key="value pairs"

# blank lines ignored but normally separating sections, etc.

# The traditional *ix extension: comments starting with a hash

In the context of *.desktop files, each key=value line describes a 
particular bit of information about the service in question, its type 
(executable, service, etc), title in various languages, short and long 
descriptions, representative icon, whether it should be displayed in all 
*.desktop spec compatible environments or only one (kde only, for 
instance), etc.

Do note that because a *.desktop file can describe something to be 
executed with an icon and description that can be crafted to deceive the 
unwary user, there are potential security implications with allowing them 
to be placed just anywhere by anything, and executed without restriction.  
As a result, more modern *.desktop spec compatible environments often 
place some restriction on the execution of *.desktop files located in 
standard places such as the desktop directory, especially if they're user-

The cooperative specification is managed by, which has the 
various versions available for viewing.

There are also tools available for verifying the format, etc. warning 
about missing quotes, semicolons, missing lines that should be found in a 
*.desktop file of a particular type, etc, and for managing installation of 
such files.  These tools are shipped in a package called 
"desktop-file-utils" or similar ("desktop-file-utils" is the name on 
Gentoo, which I use).

Duncan - List replies preferred.   No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master."  Richard Stallman

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