← Back to team overview

desktop-packages team mailing list archive

[Bug 556933] Re: "Update standard folders" should add language links to folders, not rename them


Launchpad has imported 4 comments from the remote bug at

If you reply to an imported comment from within Launchpad, your comment
will be sent to the remote bug automatically. Read more about
Launchpad's inter-bugtracker facilities at

On 2010-12-12T13:14:43+00:00 A-pirard-hotmail wrote:

This was originally reported in:
(which, I'm afraid, someone turned into a mess)

xdg-user-dirs tries to rename standard folders
(e.g. Desktop to Bureau (French), among other languages and folders).

Renaming standard folders is incorrect because :
- there may exist references to their files that would become invalid if renamed
- if such files exist, xdg-user-dirs quite rightly does not rename the folder but just creates the new name
- but then the user's files seem to disappear
- and, for the same reason, the user cannot move his files harmlessly
- similarly, there may be references to the folder itself, even if empty
- and in fact, the Internet is full of references to ~/Desktop (which introducing xdg-user-dirs made invalid)
(that's why those folders are called "standard": their names mustn't change)

The correct way is obviously:
- to create symbolic links such as Bureau -> Desktop (instead of renaming)
- to never remove the symbolic link afterwards (in case references have been made to it)

Temporary workaround: it almost already works: this is a proof of concept:
If, before xdg-user-dirs comes to play,
- one creates the symbolic link (Bureau -> Desktop)
- one makes sure to keep the folder (Desktop) nonempty (e.g. with hidden file),
then xdg-user-dirs will not modify any name and the system will work superbly.

Reply at: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xdg-user-

On 2010-12-12T13:43:02+00:00 A-pirard-hotmail wrote:

*** Bug 15765 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***

Reply at: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xdg-user-

On 2010-12-14T01:00:56+00:00 A-pirard-hotmail wrote:

PLEASE carefully read Bug 15765 for a description by Tim Miao of the
problem in practical terms.

Reply at: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xdg-user-

On 2015-03-12T14:31:51+00:00 Psy[H[] wrote:

I've just stumbled upon this: http://henrich-on-debian.blogspot.com/2015/03/localized-directory-name-is-harmful.html
And that reminded me of the darn whitespace in russian Desktop localization.
Links should be the answer!
I think, it is time to revive this bug.

Reply at: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xdg-user-

You received this bug notification because you are a member of Desktop
Packages, which is subscribed to xdg-user-dirs in Ubuntu.

  "Update standard folders" should add language links to folders, not
  rename them

Status in xdg-user-dirs package in Ubuntu:
Status in xdg-user-dirs package in Debian:

Bug description:
  Binary package hint: xdg-user-dirs

  Update:  I made a more concise version of this text upstream at:

  This applies to all Ubuntu (Gnome) versions up to 10.04.
  Note: understand "Bureau" below as the name of any "standard" folder in any language. For example, also "Картинки" = Pictures folder name in Russian.

  This report explain some of the many pitfalls caused by the renaming of Desktop to Bureau.
  These pitfalls can cause programs, scripts and the system itself to misbehave.
  A drastic solution is to make a Bureau -> Desktop symbolic link instead.
  Furthermore, this seems very simple to implement, it almost already works.

  When a user changes the language of its profile she/he is asked a "funny" question in Desktop-1.png.
  "Update standard folders to new language?"
  He/she does not understand and he replies "yes".  From then on, obscure magic happens.
  Among other folders, ~/Desktop is renamed ~/Bureau, but only if it is empty.
  Let's assume it's not.  Then a new ~/Bureau is created beside.
  If the user drags "New file" (Desktop-2.png) a little bit, it disappears (Desktop-3.png).
  It will reappear after the next Login, at which time all the other Desktop objects disappear.
  Then she/he makes a screenshot and is told that a file she/he doesn't see does exist (Desktop-3.png).
  Nothing is lost, the user has 2 desktops, Desktop and Bureau, only now showing, hard to guess.
  The same applies for Documents, Music, etc... total confusion.
  If some program unaware of this game looks for Desktop, it won't find it.
  Etc... etc...  Confusion looks like the comments of (different) Bug #209513.

  Every time one refers to ~/Desktop, it's a mistake, and that's not only in programs...
  Every time someone writes "cd ~/Desktop" in sample code on the Web, and even worse in a script, they're doing a BIG MISTAKE. They should explain that, if and only if their system implements standard folders renaming, French people must type cd ~/Bureau, Russian ones cd "~/работая стол" etc, even more complicated for the script.  HOW SIMPLE !!!

  This is obviously not the way it should work.
  This is NOT Windows.  We can use symbolic links.
  Instead of renaming ~/Desktop, let's make a ~/Bureau -> Desktop symbolic link.
  EVERYTHING will continue to be able to refer to Desktop unchanged.
  And the user interface (Desktop, Nautilus...) will happily refer to ~/Bureau all the same.
  It will contain the same data, because the same folder.
  The only setting needed is the name to use : Bureau, meaning ~/Bureau, redirected at will.
  It's best to create the aliasing without asking the user any question.
  There can be a setting for those really wanting to see the folders' names in any language they choose.
  If the user changes language again, it's best to leave ~/Bureau intact in case it's referred to somewhere.

  The BEST OF ALL is that it already works.  Almost...
  Before xdg-user-dirs comes into play, make sure Desktop is not empty and create ~/Bureau -> Desktop.
  xdg-user-dirs will not change that and the aliasing will work free of all those inconveniences.

  User experience.
  The above kludge has been used for a 6-language 10-users couple of Ubuntu 8.04 systems.
  Beside ~/ being crowded with aliases in 6 languages, the only inconvenience has been Picasa.
  They found 6 times the pictures they eagerly looked for.
  They will have to learn that scanning a filesystem must not follow aliases.

To manage notifications about this bug go to: