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Download or Downloads

Filed under: friction,Open Source — Thomas @ 18:42


Having various machines, some with homedirs passed on across distro versions, I somehow ended up with both Download and Downloads directories. Not to mention that my Firefox and Chromium instances were downloading everywhere, and the silly mental friction of this one letter difference is pissing me off. I was renaming one to the other on one machine, and probably doing the opposite on another.

So, no more. Instead of figuring out what the spec says, I just created a fresh user on my Fedora 14 laptop and did:

$ ls
Desktop Documents Downloads Music Pictures Public Templates Videos

So, that's what it's going to be. Never mind that I hate with a passion something ugly like Music vs Videos (where do I put audio podcasts then ?), I'll just follow like rank and file.

Since I did get a little curious though where the two folders came from, I took a quick look at the FDO page (which as recent blogs have shown is the One Standard Body) and sure enough - version 0.11 renamed Download to Downloads.

This post is just a note to self so that any time I find a computer with both, I fix it properly, instead of the Browsian motion I'm on right now.


  1. When it happens, I simply copy contents of one in the other, delete the former and symlink the latter to match. One place, two valid paths.

    Comment by Palin — 2011-03-14 @ 21:31

  2. Honest question:
    Why Music and not Musics?
    It’s the only folder which name in not plural.

    Comment by Camila Acolide — 2011-03-14 @ 23:49

  3. Camila, Music is a word that does not have a plural. Songs could have worked as well I guess, but you wouldn’t call classical music songs.

    I used to go with audio/video/…

    Comment by Thomas — 2011-03-15 @ 09:26

  4. I think what you may want to look into is xdg… For example, in your ~/.config/ look for a file named: user-dirs.dirs
    This should explain everything, and let you set what names you’d like as your defaults.

    Comment by James — 2011-03-15 @ 03:18

  5. I prefer not to customize, too much things to maintain. Getting old…

    Comment by Thomas — 2011-03-15 @ 09:27

  6. My approach:

    ~$ cat ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs

    I keep this file in my home directory’s git repository.

    Comment by Josh — 2011-03-15 @ 09:37

  7. I’ve set my $XDG_DOWNLOAD_DIR to $HOME/downloads and Firefox just ignores it, it creates a new ~/Downloads directory everytime. naughty naughty FF. Chromium either does the right thing, or coincidentally just uses the same directory.

    note that you can also symlink directories to each other.

    Comment by Dieter_be — 2011-03-16 @ 11:33

  8. The first thing I do on a newly-installed desktop system is move “Download(s)” to “Incoming”, update user-dirs.dirs and configure Firefox (which, as noted, ignores XDG_DOWNLOAD_DIR). The rationale is tab-completion — I very frequently extract, move or rename files that I’ve just downloaded, and with both “Documents” and “Downloads” by default, it takes 3 letters before pressing tab gives a unique answer. Of course, it’s also possible to change bash’s completion behaviour to be more like VIM[0], in which case you could get away with “$ D” to get to “Downloads”.

    [0] http://superuser.com/questions/222390/making-bash-tab-completion-more-like-cmd-exe/222393#222393

    Comment by Carl van Tonder — 2011-03-19 @ 18:07

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