SoC idea: desktop file cache

Bugzilla is down or I'd write this there, and it's a bit lengthy to
fit in the SoC wiki page, so I'll just post here and link from the

== Desktop File Cache ==

Because GNOME doesn't have an application installation story, a lot of
OS creators simply ship with a lot of apps.  An app here is a .desktop
file, normally in /usr/share/applications.  It turns out that reading
all these files can be slow, for a variety of reasons.

Here is a link to the full specification:

== Kill gnome-menus ==

gnome-menus is the library which reads all this stuff presently, and
it has one serious drawback:

* It is entirely synchronous

This especially hurts since we have to read applications from
gnome-shell, which is the compositor - a blocked compositor means no

There are other, more minor flaws:

* It is quite inefficient; there is a ton of string allocation going on.
* It's not threadsafe (see e.g. the static GSList     *pending_events
in menu-monitor.c)
* It wasn't designed for introspection ( )

== Implementing a saner tool ==

There are multiple ways to approach this, but I think by far the
simplest is just an mmap'able file containing all .desktop files found
in the desktop paths.  Don't try to implement all the merge logic,

How do you implement a mmap'd file?  Take a look at how dconf does it:

The next question is how does the cache get rebuilt?  I think we
basically need a system service with an inotify (GFileMonitor) watch
on all those directories, and it takes care of rebuilding it.

The library api could simply be:

void on_desktop_cache_changed ()
  DesktopCacheEntryIter iter;

  desktop_cache_iter_init (cache, &iter);
  while (desktop_cache_iter_next (cache, &iter)) {
    g_print ("desktop file path: %s\n",
desktop_cache_iter_get_desktop_file_path (&iter));
    g_print ("desktop name: %s\n", desktop_cache_iter_get_desktop_name (&iter));

DesktopCache *cache = desktop_cache_get();
g_signal_connect (cache, "changed", on_desktop_cache_changed, self);
desktop_cache_read_async (cache, on_desktop_cache_read_complete, self);

The library would simply have an inotify watch on the cache file.
Which should probably simply be defined to live in
/usr/share/applications/applications.cache, say.

Filtering the menus by category would live in a higher layer, in my
case, gnome-shell probably.

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