In the Linux operating system,
.desktop files are used to define how an application is launched, how it appears in menus, and how it behaves on the desktop. They are essentially shortcuts to applications. In this article, we’ll explore why custom
.desktop files require execution permission to run.
Custom .desktop files need execution permission to run because it is a security measure implemented in Linux to prevent potentially harmful or malicious files from being executed without the user’s knowledge or consent. Adding execution permission ensures that the files can be launched safely.
Understanding .desktop files
Before we dive into the main topic, let’s first understand what
.desktop files are. These files are plain text files that provide metadata about an application according to the Desktop Entry Specification. They typically contain information like the name of the application, the command to launch it, an icon, and more.
.desktop file might look something like this:
[Desktop Entry] Type=Application Name=Sample Application Name Exec=/path/to/application Icon=/path/to/icon
Type specifies the type of the desktop entry,
Name is the name of the application,
Exec is the command to execute the application, and
Icon is the path to the application’s icon.
Execution Permission and Security
.desktop files are considered untrusted. This is a security measure implemented in Linux to prevent potentially harmful or malicious files from being executed without the user’s knowledge or consent.
.desktop file does not have execution permission, it will throw an error message stating that it has not been marked as trusted and launching it may be unsafe. This is where the execution permission comes into play.
To make a
.desktop file executable, you need to modify its permissions using the
chmod +x /path/to/yourfile.desktop
In this command,
chmod is used to change the file’s mode,
+x adds the execute permission, and
/path/to/yourfile.desktop is the path to your
Exceptions to the Rule
.desktop files generally require execution permission to run, there are some exceptions to this rule. According to Ubuntu’s security policy, certain types of
.desktop files, such as those located in the
XDG_DATA_DIRS directories or
~/.gnome2/, can be launched by Nautilus without the executable bit set.
This behavior is not perfectly in line with the policy, but it allows for the execution of certain
.desktop files without the need for executable permissions. In practice,
.desktop files located in
/usr/share/applications/ and owned by root can run properly without executable permissions.
In summary, the need for execution permission on custom
.desktop files is primarily a security measure. It prevents potentially harmful files from being executed without the user’s knowledge or consent. While there are exceptions to this rule, it’s generally a good practice to add execution permission to your custom
.desktop files to ensure they run without any issues.
Understanding these intricacies of
.desktop files and execution permissions can help you better navigate and utilize your Linux system. Always remember to exercise caution when dealing with file permissions to maintain the security and integrity of your system.
To create a .desktop file, you can use a text editor like Gedit or Nano. Open a new file and copy the necessary information, such as the [Desktop Entry] section, Type, Name, Exec, and Icon. Save the file with a .desktop extension, such as "myapp.desktop", and make sure to set the execution permission for the file if needed.
To add execution permission to a .desktop file, you can use the
chmod command in the terminal. Open a terminal and run the command
chmod +x /path/to/yourfile.desktop, replacing "/path/to/yourfile.desktop" with the actual path to your .desktop file. This command adds the execute permission to the file.
In general, custom .desktop files require execution permission to run. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Certain types of .desktop files located in specific directories, such as those in the XDG_DATA_DIRS directories or ~/.gnome2/, can be launched by Nautilus without the executable bit set. But it’s still a good practice to add execution permission to your custom .desktop files to ensure they run without any issues.
If you try to run a .desktop file without execution permission, you will likely encounter an error message stating that the file has not been marked as trusted and launching it may be unsafe. This is a security measure implemented in Linux to prevent potentially harmful or malicious files from being executed without the user’s knowledge or consent.
.desktop files can pose security risks if they are not properly handled. Without execution permission, they are considered untrusted, preventing potential harm. However, if an untrusted .desktop file is granted execution permission or if it is placed in a trusted location, it can execute commands or launch applications without user consent, potentially leading to security vulnerabilities. It’s important to exercise caution when handling .desktop files, especially when downloading or using custom ones from untrusted sources.