Curious Sunday Morning Linux File System Question ??

Charles Curley charlescurley at
Sun Mar 11 16:27:33 UTC 2007

On Sun, Mar 11, 2007 at 11:13:18AM -0400, William Case wrote:
> Hi All;
> Just did some changes in my ~/.* ( dot files ) and started wondering why
> Linux uses dot files for its 'user' data.  Its a small annoyance to have
> to specify .* each time I use them.  The annoyance is primarily not
> because it's difficult but because it is odd -- different from anything
> else and data files get mixed (kinda) with my working documents.  Why
> not just have a standard additional directory for 'config', or whatever
> name, to hold all the user application type data.  Is the reason
> historical or is there a pragmatic purpose?

Both. It's an ancient and honorable Unix tradition based on the notion
that .* files don't normally get into shell expansions. So "rm ~/*"
won't eat all your config files.

It would not be easy to move all the dot files into a config
directory. You would have to co-ordinate that across thousands of apps
and dozens of different Unixes. I think we can depend on $HOME being
available on most Unixes. Getting $HOME/config adopted would be a
major effort.

I recommend against putting your own working documents into your home
directory. Instead make one or more sub-directories for them. I have
"business" for business related stuff, invoices and the like,
"projects" and "src", for source code. Each has sub-directories for
individual projects. I find it helps that when I'm working on a given
project I only see the files related to that project.

This also means that things in ~ tend to be expendable, making pruning
the cruft very easy.

> I am not a complete newbie.  After 2 1/2 years of using Linux I am kind
> of a 'gubie' or 'newru'.  (Newbie on the way to becoming a guru).  So if
> you have an explanation that involves more than newbie baby talk, I can
> handle it.

Uh, "gnubie"?


Charles Curley                  /"\    ASCII Ribbon Campaign
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