files which start with a dot and firefox gmail

Steve Searle steve at
Wed Apr 29 17:44:37 UTC 2009

Around 12:54pm on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 (UK time), Patrick O'Callaghan scrawled:

> On Wed, 2009-04-29 at 11:15 +0100, Cannon, Andrew C wrote:
> > Mark,
> > 
> > In *nix space, all files that start with a dot are classed as 'hidden'
> > files.  Thus, they won't be normally viewable.  It may be possible to
> > change the view settings in your chosen application, but this probably
> > changes from application to application.
> This is in fact merely a convention of the "ls" program, not of the *nix
> systems themselves. The fact that some other apps have chosen to follow
> it (including many of the file choosers out there) doesn't alter this.

It's more than just a ls convention.  However I agree it is just a
convention, the files are intrinsically different from "normal" files.
Interestingly, Windows treats dot files as hidden files, and you can
view/hide them from Folder Options in Windows Explorer.

From The Jargon File, Version 4.0.0, 24 Jul 1996 -

":dot file: [Unix] /n./  A file that is not visible by default to normal
directory-browsing tools (on Unix, files named with a leading dot are,
by convention, not normally presented in directory listings)."

Also from man bash:

match-hidden-files (On)  This variable, when set to On, causes readline
to match files whose names begin with a ‘.’ (hidden files) when
performing filename completion, unless the leading ‘.’ is supplied by
the user in the filename to be completed.


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