RFC: Common desktop-wide paths

Hi there,

This topic has been covered before, but no conclusion was made.

The original proposal was to define a set of folders for storing files
created by the average desktop PC user. In my case these folders are
{Documents, Downloads, Photos, Music, Video}. I believe that this common
folderset would help the end-user to store and mange files more easily,
and would promote continuity across the desktop.

A typical use-case is my parents. On their Windows desktop PC, all my
mother's letters are stored in "My Documents". All my father's digital
photos are stored in "My Documents/My Pictures/YYYY-MM-DD/". When I
returned home recently, and saw how well they had managed to files things,
I noted a few things:

My Mother writes letters in Word. She clicks file>save, types a filename
and clicks save. The default save location in Word is My Documents. All
her documents are stored in the correct place. On my family's last PC,
which ran Microsoft Works, most documents got saved to C:/Program
Files/Microsoft Works/, amongst all the application's files and
executable. This was the default save location, and was not the correct
place to save files.

My father has a Pentax camera. When he plugs it in via USB, the camera
software extracts the photos for him. It defaults to "My Documents/My
Pictures/YYYY-MM-DD/", where YMD is the date the photos were downloaded to
the PC. His picture collection is better organised than mine, because the
Pentax software does the right thing. Compare this to my brother's laptop.
The software supplied with his Canon camera stores photos in "C:\Program
Files\Canon\ZoomBrowser EX\Image Library One". User files should should
not be stored in the application's directory.

I was in my friends house last weekend. His family PC has a lot of music
stored on it. Some music files were downloaded with KaZaa, in "C:\Program
Files\Kazaa Lite\My Shared Folder\". His sister has an iPod, and other
music files are stored in the default Apple iTunes location, which as far
as I can recall is "C:\Music". There were other WMA files on the PC which
had been extracted with Windows Media Player. These were stored in "My
Documents\My Music". All these three applications stored music files in
three seperate locations.

In Windows, the "My Documents" folder is "C:\Documents and
Settings\{Current User}\My Documents\". Nobody in the above collection of
people would be able to find this directory in the directory tree. There
is a shortcut to "My Documents" on the desktop. This shortcut does not
have a shortcut icon. To them, their documents get stored on the desktop,
in the "My Documents" folder.

This is how I believe Gnome should work for the average user. Everybody
that I know who uses a PC outside of the office environment uses it for
some of the following tasks:
- Reading and writing email
- Playing games
- Watching Movies (Would use Video folder)
- Browsing the web (Would use Downloads folder)
- Digital photography (Would use Photos folder)
- Playing music (Would use Music folder)
- Managing a portable MP3 player (Would use Music folder)
- Writing Word documents (Would use Documents folder)

GTKam should extract photos to the Photos directory. gThumb should display
the Photos directory by default. Nautlius should display the contents of
the Photos folder as an image collection by default.

Sound Juicer creates music files in a location stored in a GConf key at
present. This key should be replaced with the Music folder. Rhythmbox
should build its music database from the Music folder.

The original proposal suggested creating the folderset in $HOME:

The two main issues raised with this idea were:
- People do not want clutter in $HOME
- The folderset must be localised

I propose that these folders should be created on the desktop, with an
applicable emblem on each folder (A music note for the Music folder, a
camera for the Photos folder). Having the folders on the desktop would fit
nicely in the spatial model of


I propose that the location of these folders be user configurable, and be
stored as Gconf keys for retrievel by any interested application. In this
way applications can all store files in the correct place.

A Gnome Sytems Tool module should provide a GUI for setting the location
of the folders.

To solve the localisation issue, I propose that these folders are created
in the language that the user first logs in using. If the user
subsequently decides to change locale, the Gnome System Tools module
should be able to rename the old folders to the current locale's

Kindest Regards,

Marc O'Morain

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