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I am writing my application foo, with frontend foo-gtk.

I want to install a default/systemwide config file, which I infer would go under /etc/foo.conf, and possible /etc/foo-gtk.conf for default gui settings.

I am far more confused about user specific config files.

Here are places I see config files for other applications:

  • ~/.foo.conf
  • ~/.foo/config
  • ~/.config/foo/config

The first has the advantage of being quick to get to if the user needs to edit it a lot, But the next two seem roughly equivalent.

I haven't found any formal spec on this so I'm curious, what is best practice for storing/locationof application Defualt, SystemWide, and Per-user config files?

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The latest best practice is not to embed the user config file under a hidden user directory unless there will be more than one user specific file for the application. Thus, you should use only ~/.fooconfig (or ~/.foorc) for the user resource file for foo.

If foo has multiple user files, then it's ~/.foo/config for the configuration file along with any other files, all under ~/.foo/

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    Afaik, the latest best practice as per FDO spec is to use $XDG_CONFIG_HOME which if not set defaults to $HOME/.config. – don_crissti May 21 '15 at 16:02
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    XDG is creating a directory at ~/.config - but this (appears) specific to XDG (desktop) applications - not "all" applications. https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Xdg_user_directories IMHO XDG creating a generic ~/.config directory (for instance, not ~/.xdg/ directory) is only best practice for XDG - but I would hazard to say it is not best practice for 'all' applications. – Andrew May 21 '15 at 16:09
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    Not sure what you mean by "best practice for XDG"... Do you mean GUI apps ? Not really... XDG specs were born in the X world, indeed, but that doesn't mean they only apply to GUI apps. "best practice" is subjective and OP said "I haven't found any formal spec" hence my comment. Example of FDO/XDG compliant app (with daemon, cli and gui components) : transmission config files. For the record, I have stuff under .config that belongs to pulse, imagemagick etc (none of these is a gui app). – don_crissti May 21 '15 at 16:56
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    So, to use ssh, I suppose ~/.config/.ssh/id_rsa makes sense if you consider 'XDG' to be implementing 'best practices'. Regardless, I'm going with what ssh, git, kde, gnome and most applications do, use a .<application name>config file or a .<application name> directory under the user's home directory. This will preserve XDG's generic ~/.config implementation for developers who trust their configs won't get trampled by files with the same name in a shared directory. – Andrew May 21 '15 at 18:01

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