xdg and autostart in Linux X server regardless the desktop environment

There is a tool xdg, which manages application integration with the different GUI Desktops in the Linux world. One of the features it offers is to autostart an application when the X window system starts and it is perfectly normal to have a bunch of running programs that cannot be found in the Windowing manager settings like KDE System Settings -> Autostart, GNOME Tweak tool and Autostart and so on.

xdg offers autostart of Linux appilcations mainly Desktop when the GUI windowing system starts

There two main paths to look for entries to autostart:

  1. /etc/xdg/autostart – called system-wide and most of the application will place files when they are installed.
  2. [user’s home]/.config/autostart – user’s applications to start when the user logs in .

With xdg autostart feature the user can explain himself why the Windowing systems like KDE or GNOME start tens of applications (not exactly related to the base GUI windowing system).

There is a security problem here, which is sometimes installing a package will place an autostart file there because the maintainer decided it is important but the package might be just a dependency and the next time the user logs in unwanted program might execute and open ports!

For example, Rygel is an open-source UPnP/DLNA MediaServer and it might be installed as a dependency but it places an autostart file, which starts a UPnP/DLNA server and exports the /home/[user’s directory]/Videos, /home/[user’s directory]/Pictures and more to the local network. Another example is with the GNOME index system tracker and the tracker-store, which may easily eat the RAM, disk, CPU, battery on a system without GNOME but with a different GUI!

Here is what a typical Ubuntu 18.04 system might autostart

at-spi-dbus-bus.desktop
gnome-initial-setup-copy-worker.desktop
gnome-initial-setup-first-login.desktop
gnome-keyring-pkcs11.desktop
gnome-keyring-secrets.desktop
gnome-keyring-ssh.desktop
gnome-software-service.desktop
gnome-welcome-tour.desktop
nautilus-autostart.desktop
nm-applet.desktop
orca-autostart.desktop
org.gnome.DejaDup.Monitor.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.A11ySettings.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Clipboard.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Color.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Datetime.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.DiskUtilityNotify.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Housekeeping.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Keyboard.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.MediaKeys.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Mouse.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Power.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.PrintNotifications.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Rfkill.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.ScreensaverProxy.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Sharing.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Smartcard.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Sound.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.Wacom.desktop
org.gnome.SettingsDaemon.XSettings.desktop
print-applet.desktop
pulseaudio.desktop
snap-userd-autostart.desktop
spice-vdagent.desktop
update-notifier.desktop
user-dirs-update-gtk.desktop
xdg-user-dirs.desktop

Not so typical Gentoo KDE system might autostart

at-spi-dbus-bus.desktop
baloo_file.desktop
blueman.desktop
evolution-alarm-notify.desktop
fcitx-autostart.desktop
Gentoo-print-applet.desktop
geoclue-demo-agent.desktop
gmenudbusmenuproxy.desktop
gnome-keyring-pkcs11.desktop
gnome-keyring-secrets.desktop
gnome-keyring-ssh.desktop
gsettings-data-convert.desktop
klipper.desktop
kmix_autostart.desktop
konqy_preload.desktop
org.kde.kdeconnect.daemon.desktop
org.kde.kgpg.desktop
org.kde.plasmashell.desktop
pam_kwallet_init.desktop
polkit-gnome-authentication-agent-1.desktop
polkit-kde-authentication-agent-1.desktop
powerdevil.desktop
pulseaudio.desktop
restore_kmix_volumes.desktop
tracker-extract.desktop
tracker-miner-fs.desktop
tracker-miner-rss.desktop
tracker-store.desktop
user-dirs-update-gtk.desktop
xdg-user-dirs.desktop
xembedsniproxy.desktop
xfce4-clipman-plugin-autostart.desktop
xfce4-power-manager.desktop
xfce4-settings-helper-autostart.desktop
xfce4-tips-autostart.desktop
xfsettingsd.desktop
xscreensaver.desktop

It worth noting not all of the files execute an application in all GUI Windowing environments because some of them have options when to start – KDE or GNOME or other systems only.

There are a couple of examples:

GNOME keyring secrets daemon will starts only under GNOME, Unity and MATE:
/etc/xdg/autostart/gnome-keyring-secrets.desktop

[Desktop Entry]
Type=Application
Name=Secret Storage Service
Comment=GNOME Keyring: Secret Service
Exec=/usr/bin/gnome-keyring-daemon --start --components=secrets
OnlyShowIn=GNOME;Unity;MATE;
NoDisplay=true
X-GNOME-Autostart-Phase=PreDisplayServer
X-GNOME-AutoRestart=false
X-GNOME-Autostart-Notify=true
X-GNOME-Bugzilla-Bugzilla=GNOME
X-GNOME-Bugzilla-Product=gnome-keyring
X-GNOME-Bugzilla-Component=general
X-GNOME-Bugzilla-Version=3.28.0.2
X-Ubuntu-Gettext-Domain=gnome-keyring

Skip some GUI desktops as GNOME, KDE, Unity, MATE, LXQt, but in all other will start the XFce4 power manager – /etc/xdg/autostart/xfce4-power-manager.desktop ???

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Power Manager
Comment=Power management for the Xfce desktop
Icon=xfce4-power-manager-settings
Exec=xfce4-power-manager
Terminal=false
Type=Application
NotShowIn=GNOME;KDE;Unity;MATE;LXQt;
StartupNotify=false

More details in the manual here – https://specifications.freedesktop.org/desktop-entry-spec/latest/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.