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This question already has an answer here:

If there is a file and the filename starts with a dot in front of it. Does that mean that you created the file and you are hiding stuff in it or can the files get created on their own without you creating the filename. I'm just saying I have files with dots in front of them but I didnt create them.

marked as duplicate by Stephen Kitt, Jesse_b, Olorin, Rui F Ribeiro, Kusalananda Mar 15 at 10:24

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • Hello and welcome to the U&L stack exchange site! Please read over the help center to get more information on how to best post to this site. To get to your question, dotfiles or files starting with a dot character are hidden files. They can used for configuration files for applications you have installed or as profiles for your user settings. What files are you having an issue with? Please edit your post to include more context. Thank you! – kemotep Mar 14 at 21:52
  • I'm not having a problem with mybfilea never looked at my files I'm getting accused of hiding things in files and also that I have hidden apps and I've never downloaded hidden apps – Regina Saucedo Mar 14 at 22:00
  • Don't worry and don't let people accuse you of doing covert operations on your file system. Everyone can type in ls -alF in a command shell, and all hiding goes away. BTW you might want to use alias l='ls --color=tty -alF' and with it just type one single l to see it all. Try echo 'set nu' > .vimrc and voila, you've line numbers in your vi or vim editor. That's all there is to it with "hidden" files. – Micha Mar 14 at 22:36
  • -1 for intentionally asking duplicates. – Weijun Zhou Mar 15 at 10:47
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This can likely be explained by a google post by Rob Pike about the origin of hidden files.

In the early days of Unix there was no concept of hidden files but the files . and .. existed to represent the current directory and parent directory. It became annoying to list these files every time ls was used so a simple change was made to the ls program to hide any file beginning with a .. This change, had the unplanned effect of allowing for "hidden files".

As Rob Pike explains:

As a consequence, more lazy programmers started dropping files into everyone's home directory. I don't have all that much stuff installed on the machine I'm using to type this, but my home directory has about a hundred dot files and I don't even know what most of them are or whether they're still needed. Every file name evaluation that goes through my home directory is slowed down by this accumulated sludge.


So to answer your question those hidden files you didn't create are likely some sort of config files from applications you have installed.

  • ... but my home directory has about a hundred dot files and I don't even know what most of them are or whether they're still needed - Glad to know I am not the only one! There is a light at the end of the tunnel, there is movement to placing all user config files into .local but not many applications follow this spec. – crasic Mar 15 at 6:57
  • Heck, even on Windows (where those files are not automatically hidden and there's a defined and preferred place for such configuration to go into) I have currently 12 directories and 3 files beginning with a . in my profile directory. And I clean up those I don't recognize about once a month. – Joey Mar 15 at 7:19
  • @crasic I guess you mean $HOME/.config which is for config files according to the freedesktop specification you linked. $HOME/.local is for "User specific data files". Actually quite a lot of applications are already using $HOME/.config by default or can be configured to use it, although it's still a long way till we can get rid of all the dotfiles in $HOME. – David Ongaro Mar 15 at 9:16
  • Btw. this seems to be a nice overview of software which adheres the XDG base directory specification or can be configured to adhere it: wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/XDG_Base_Directory#Support – David Ongaro Mar 15 at 9:34

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