What's a "Desktop?"

Kelly L. Fulks kfulks at knology.net
Sat Jan 14 17:56:43 GMT 2006

The Desktop directory is in a Directory (or Folder) named Desktop in your home 
directory.  So if you wanted to grep -i "charlie" it would be in 

I understand what you are saying in one sense.  However, a common lingo 
between operating environments (meaning windows, kde, gnome, etc.) is a good 
thing as it makes talking to others easier.  It will also ease the transition 
of new users to new environments.

I personally cut my teeth on computing using OS-9 by Microware.  It was quite 
Unix like in nature.  I moved to MS-DOS for a short period of time and then 
went into the Unix world on DECStations, SparcStations, Irix, Convex, Cray, 
etc.  I discovered Linux in 1993 and loaded it up on my PC and have been 
using it as much as possible since then.  I do have to live with Windows 
often times at work, but using a common terminology it isn't too difficult.

My filesystem comments were a bit sarcastic and probably uncalled for.  But it 
seems that a lot of folks want Linux to be completely different from Windows.  
I would prefer to see them use some things in common (lingo, somewhat the 
look, etc.) so that I can wean people off Windows and on to Linux without 
them hardly noticing.  As long as the security and stability aren't 
sacrificed in the process.

On Saturday 14 January 2006 10:59, bruce wrote:
> Thanks for the help, Kelly.  It wasn't the filesystem I didn't need.  I
> was objecting to the name "Filesystem" appearing when I wanted to save
> a file.  Of course it would be saved in the filesystem.  Probably in my
> home directory somewhere.  Probably not on my desktop, although if I
> save to desktop, I see that it puts an icon on my desktop.  That might
> be useful, but if I want to grep -i "charlie" from that file, where is
> it?
> I guess I'd better get used to it.
> bruce
> On Friday 13 January 2006 18:24, Kelly L. Fulks wrote:
> > On Friday 13 January 2006 12:07 pm, bruce wrote:
> > > I keep running into "desktop", "filesystem." and "Home' (the latter
> > > apparently meaning "/home/bruce") when I am trying to save a file.
> > > I am guessing that microsoft windows uses such terms, but why is it
> > > suddenly in my Linux box?
> > >
> > > Can I get rid of that somehow?
> > > bruce
> >
> > Bruce,
> >
> > A "filesystem" is literally a system of files and directories.  On a
> > Unix or Linux system this will start with "/" and will include
> > everything.  The name "filesystem" has been around for quite a long
> > time.  It was probably in use somewhat before Unix, but I don't know
> > that for sure.  I wasn't working with computers before Unix came into
> > being.  It probably was not used until files could be arranged in a
> > hierarchical fashion.
> >
> > "Home" is a somewhat special directory on the "filesystem".  It goes
> > way back in Unix to mean your home directory (or where you login as a
> > base in the character based days).  It is usually named /home/<your
> > username> in present days, but there have been other locations.  I
> > would guess (given when Home became a useful term for WIndows) that
> > it came from the Unix/VMS world into Windows.
> >
> > "Desktop" is a more specific special directory within your home
> > directory.  It has only come about in more recent times and could
> > have been derived from Microsoft Windows.  It refers to the directory
> > where the items that appears on your "Desktop", or the root windows
> > of your window system/window manager are stored.
> >
> > Now when I say special, I don't mean that there is anything different
> > about it.  It is just how it is used that is special in both of the
> > above cases. They are created just like any other directory, etc.  It
> > is simply that KDE looks for the Desktop directory for certain
> > things.  Several programs look at the home directory for certain
> > things and even set environment variables to remember where it is,
> > etc.
> >
> > I would venture a guess that those names are all quite familiar to
> > Windows users, so they are used to make the transition to KDE (or
> > probably some other desktops) easier for Windows users.
> >
> > If you really want to get rid of them, you can, but I wouldn't
> > recommend it. You can type "rm -rf /" to get rid of the filesystem.
> > However, your computer will no longer function as expected.  You will
> > be forced to load it from scratch, and then you will again have a
> > filesystem.  You also lose all your data in the process.
> >
> > However, if you have an account on a Unix/Linux system, you MUST have
> > a home directory in order to login.  If you use KDE, you MUST have a
> > Desktop.   You can change to a different Window Manager that uses
> > different terminology to get rid of the Desktop if you wish.  And if
> > you are really lucky it won't refer to "Home" either.
> >
> > I hope that this helps with your understanding of these terms.  I
> > wish you luck in getting rid of them if you really wish to do so.
> > But if it were me, I would just deal with seeing them and appreciate
> > the functionality.
> >
> > --
> > Kelly L. Fulks
> > Home Account
> > near Huntsville, AL

Kelly L. Fulks
Home Account
near Huntsville, AL

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