Configuration masquerading Data

Martin Owens doctormo at
Sat Sep 13 03:48:51 UTC 2008

Dear Ubuntu and Evolution Developers,

I'm sending this email to the gnome evolution hackers list to see what
their thoughts are.

I have noticed a really odd disconnect in gnu/linux with user data
which has me a little worried. Some user data is hidden from users in
configuration directories.

Technically configuration directories denoted by being hidden
(suffexed with a '.') are there to hold collections of configuration
files for the applications which they serve. But there are plenty of
programs using these directories to store the data results as well as

For consideration I present Cheese, a very nice tool for using
web-cams to take photos with weird disfiguring effects. The problem as
I see it is that Cheese stores each of the photos in it's ~/.cheese
directory which makes them hidden from the user. Instead I propose
that Cheese use a standard directory (possibly configurable) such as
~/Photographs/Cheese or ~/Documents/Cheese which is accessible to user

Cheese is an excellent example of making user data more accessible to
casual file browsing which is not just limited to jpeg images but
could just as easily apply to the way Evolution stores emails,
addresses, contacts and so on. In these instances the data is always
bound up in evolution specific formats inaccessible to casual browsing
as well as casual integration (without delving into the EDS API)

I'd like data to be available to send in an email, or browse in
nautilus (or on a command line) I'd like to be able to open the same
jpeg in image viewer and gimp, not just in what ever created or
generated them. I'd like to be able to open addresses and copy an
event file to my thumb drive. Wouldn't it be good to backup all your
files without configs and be sure your not missing emails or

In fact the methods we use to store data seems to be along the same
lines that certain Windows and Mac programs use to obfuscate and hide
data in order to lock users into their products. Do we really need to
do this on our gnu/linux systems? Should we instead intend user data
to be converted with plugins and export features in every application
because of their hidden default outputs?

This issue may be interesting to the FDO ( crowd. It
is a very heavy topic that will probably get me a little flaming
because it goes against what is currently best practice.

Best Regards, Martin Owens

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