I installed Debian Stretch on two Laptops. One has UEFI, while the other has BIOS - this is the only difference regarding the Debian installation process (I used graphical install).

After the install BIOS PC already has some basic file structure set up in Nautilus:

enter image description here

While other hasn't got the basic folder structure inside home folder. Also emblems on folders are missing in Nautilus:

enter image description here

Has anyone got an idea why this could happen?

  • 1
    Can you add the output of ls -la /etc/skel of both laptop's. – Hunter.S.Thompson Nov 10 '17 at 19:06
  • @Hunter.S.Thompson I only have the UEFI one here (it is the one that doesn't have the folders set up). In folder /etc/skel there are files .bashrc, .profile and .bash_logout. – 71GA Nov 10 '17 at 19:26

To create the default user directories you can use the following command :


The list of the directories that were created by the command xdg-user-dirs-update can also be read with:

cat ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs

There is a description how the xdg-user-dirs work.

xdg-user-dirs is a tool to help manage "well known" user directories like the desktop folder and the music folder. It also handles localization (i.e. translation) of the filenames.

The way it works is that xdg-user-dirs-update is run very early in the login phase. This program reads a configuration file, and a set of default directories. It then creates localized versions of these directories in the users home directory and sets up a config file in $(XDG_CONFIG_HOME)/user-dirs.dirs (XDG_CONFIG_HOME defaults to ~/.config) that applications can read to find these directories.

  • 1
    I used xdg-user-dirs-update and my folder structure was set up. It looks like in some cases Debian installer fails at executing this command. Before I executed the command the content of ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs was empty, but now it holds lines like XDG_VIDEOS_DIR="$HOME/Videos". @Hunter S. Thompson After execution there was still no folders present in /etc/skel, so I haven't tried your method yet. – 71GA Nov 11 '17 at 6:02

There should be all the preset folder's like Music, Pictures, Documents etc in /etc/skel, so that when you add a new user you would get the preset folder's in /home/$USER/.

It is odd why one installation would follow this step and another not.

You could just re create the preset folder's in /etc/skel. So that when you add a new user you will get the preset folder's in your home directory.

sudo mkdir /etc/skel/Documents/ /etc/skel/Downloads/ /etc/skel/Templates/ /etc/skel/Videos/ /etc/skel/Music/ /etc/skel/Pictures/ /etc/skel/Public/

From my experience, I always had to create the folder's in /etc/skel/, I never got them preset.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.