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Bug#707851: Let's remove the Debian menu from the Debian Policy ?

Hello everybody,

I have read a lot of scepticism about the Debian menu in this thread, and no
actual support for it.  Perhaps I was trying to be too consensual and proposed
an over-complicated solution while it is clear that the FreeDesktop system is

I attached a new patch, where the Debian menu is removed, and pasted below a
text export of the 9.6 and 9.7 sections after application of the patch.

Note that for the media types, there is some homework to do before recommending
to replace all mailcap entries by desktop entries (with NoDisplay=true for
command-line programs), so I am not proposing this for the moment (and welcome
help with the “mime-support” package).

I welcome your comments, but I am not calling for seconds (this is not a vote).
Please if you make objections, indicate what are your stakes regarding the menu
(user ? developer ? provider of entries ? etc.).

9.6. Menus

     Packages shipping applications that comply with minimal requirements
     described below for integration with desktop environments should
     register these applications in the desktop menu, following the
     _FreeDesktop_ standard, using text files called _desktop entries_.
     Their format is described in the _Desktop Entry Specification_ at
     http://standards.freedesktop.org/desktop-entry-spec/latest/ and
     complementary information can be found in the _Desktop Menu
     Specification_ at http://standards.freedesktop.org/menu-spec/latest/.

     The desktop entry files are installed by the packages in the directory
     `/usr/share/applications' and the FreeDesktop menus are refreshed
     using _dpkg triggers_.  It is therefore not necessary to depend on
     packages providing FreeDesktop menu systems.

     Entries displayed in the FreeDesktop menu should conform to the
     following minima for relevance and visual integration.

        * Unless hidden by default, the desktop entry must point to a PNG
          or SVG icon with a transparent background, providing at least the
          22x22 size, and preferably up to 64x64.  The icon should be
          neutral enough to integrate well with the default icon themes.
          It is encouraged to ship the icon in the default _hicolor_ icon
          theme directories, or to use an existing icon from the _hicolor_

        * If the menu entry is not useful in the general case as a
          standalone application, the desktop entry should set the
          `NoDisplay' key to <true>, so that it can be configured to be
          displayed only by those who need it.

        * In doubt, the package maintainer should coordinate with the
          maintainers of menu implementations through the _debian-desktop_
          mailing list in order to avoid problems with categories or bad
          interactions with other icons.  Especially for packages which are
          part of installation tasks, the contents of the
          `NotShowIn'/`OnlyShowIn' keys should be validated by the
          maintainers of the relevant environments.

     Since the FreeDesktop menu is a cross-distribution standard, the
     desktop entries written for Debian should be forwarded upstream, where
     they will benefit to other users and are more likely to receive extra
     contributions such as translations.

9.7. Multimedia handlers

     Media types (formerly known as MIME types, Multipurpose Internet Mail
     Extensions, RFCs 2045-2049) is a mechanism for encoding files and data
     streams and providing meta-information about them, in particular their
     type and format (e.g.  `image/png', `text/html', `audio/ogg').

     Registration of media type handlers allows programs like mail user
     agents and web browsers to invoke these handlers to view, edit or
     display media types they don't support directly.

     There are two overlaping systems to associate media types to programs
     which can handle them.  The _mailcap_ system is found on a large
     number of Unix systems.  The _FreeDesktop_ system is aimed at Desktop
     environments.  In Debian, FreeDesktop entries are automatically
     translated in mailcap entries, therefore packages already using
     desktop entries should not use the mailcap system directly.

9.7.1. Registration of media type handlers with desktop entries

     Packages shipping an application able to view, edit or point to files
     of a given media type, or open links with a given URI scheme, should
     list it in the `MimeType' key of the application's desktop entry.  For
     URI schemes, the relevant MIME types are `x-scheme-handler/*' (e.g.

9.7.2. Registration of media type handlers with mailcap entries

     Packages that are not using desktop entries for registration should
     install a file in mailcap(5) format (RFC 1524) in the directory
     `/usr/lib/mime/packages/'.  The file name should be the binary
     package's name.

     The `mime-support' package provides the `update-mime' program, which
     integrates these registrations in the `/etc/mailcap' file, using dpkg

     Packages installing desktop entries should not install mailcap entries
     for the same program, because the `mime-support' package already reads
     desktop entries.

     Packages using these facilities _should not_ depend on, recommend, or
     suggest `mime-support'.

[1]  Creating, modifying or removing a file in `/usr/lib/mime/packages/'
     using maintainer scripts will not activate the trigger.  In that case,
     it can be done by calling `dpkg-trigger --no-await
     /usr/lib/mime/packages' from the maintainer script after creating,
     modifying, or removing the file.

9.7.3. Providing media types to files

     The media type of a file is discovered by inspecting the file's
     extension or its magic(5) pattern, and interrogating a database
     associating them with media types.

     To support new associations between media types and files, their
     characteristic file extensions and magic patterns should be registered
     to the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority).  See
     http://www.iana.org/assignments/media-types and RFC 6838 for details.
     This information will then propagate to the systems discovering file
     media types in Debian, provided by the `shared-mime-info',
     `mime-support' and `file' packages.  If registration and propagation
     can not be waited for, support can be asked to the maintainers of the
     packages mentioned above.

     For files that are produced and read by a single application, it is
     also possible to declare this association to the _Shared MIME Info_
     system by installing in the directory `/usr/share/mime/packages' a
     file in the XML format specified at

Have a nice week-end,

Charles Plessy
Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan

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