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Generating the Debian menu from .desktop files?

Dear all,

I have read some contradicting statements in the discussion about the
menu systems, and it is sometimes confusing. I will try to summarise:

* The GNOME menu is better because it is cleaner.

Although .desktop files apply to each menu system which are following
the FreeDesktop recommendations, we learned that entries can be removed
from the non-GNOME menu with "OnlyShowIn=GNOME". Actually, there is also
the possibility of using a "NotShowIn" field.

I co-maintain non-gnome packages, and created .desktop files or
ad[a|o]pted some from Ubuntu (1). Shall I "NotShowIn=GNOME" the
programs in these packages? This is a very serious question: if all
developpers who maintain a package with a menu file create a .desktop
file, there will not be a big difference between the GNOME and the
Debian menu anymore...

For the moment, as there no policy against adding a .desktop whenever it
is possible, and as it is helpful for at least one distribution based on
Debian, I systematically create a .desktop file, even if there is no
icon available, for instance.

* Icon format.

In some cases, I created icons, so I had the choice for the format. xpm
has a great advantage over png: when Debian is the upstream author,
adding binaries to a package is a pain which has to be managed through
uuencode in order to generate a .diff.gz. Being an ascii format, xpm
makes the things much easier. However, I would agree to swich to png if
somebody convinced me that there are good reasons for.

Actually, the next time I will create an icon, I will opt for the svg
format, and use imagemagick to convert it to xpm (or png) at build time,
at least for the menu file. Can every window manager using FreeDesktop
menus display SVG?

* .desktop as the future and Debian menu as the past.

First of all, it has been said that if the GNOME menu (or KDE, or
XFCE...) would not provide all available graphical programs, there would
need a non-command line mean to start them. Therefore, whatever the
technology behind, I agree that the Debian menu should be kept.

However, I also agree that it is boring and error-generating to maintain
menu entries in two separate files in separate formats. The .desktop
format has one great advantage: it supports internationalisation.
Therefore, I would welcome attempts to evolve the Debian menu system to
this format. Also, as Ubuntu volunteers are actively creating .desktop
files starting from the Debian menu files (at least for the science
pacakges), the transition should be fairly easy. I am not really good at
programming, so I will not voluteer to work on the evolution of the menu
system. But if it happens, I do volunteer to help for the transition.

Have a nice day,

(1) https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MOTU/Packages/NoDesktopFile

Charles Plessy
Wako, Saitama, Japan

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