What are these mysterious directories named ":" that are cropping up after 2024-05-13 update?

Since the 2024-5-13 update, I’ve noticed a bunch of mysterious directories named just “:” cropping up all over my computer. They appear to have something to do with Flatpak, and their contents are structured like this:
Is Flatpak generating those? If so, why? And, is it supposed to be doing that? And, is there a way to stop Flatpak from generating all of these annoying “:” directory branches?

We are also not shown where it is. So thats all the more mysterious (to us).


My first guess is that its flatpak trying to use an XDG variable like $XDG_DATA_HOME and it is not set.
Most often those variables are added to and separated by using a colon. ex:


Well, I currently have 4 copies of that same directory sub-tree, located in these locations:

  1. /home/aragorn
  2. /home/aragorn/Data/Celephais/Forums/Facebook/robbie.hatley/Images/30_Persons
  3. /home/aragorn/Data/Celephais/Robbie’s-House/Photos-Of-Me
  4. /home/aragorn/Data/Inganok/Software-Store/Linux/4K-Downloader
    Which is puzzling, because I haven’t been doing anything with any Flatpak programs in those directories. It seems a random selection.

Ah, that’s probably it. I remember now that during the upgrade I saw a warning that said (paraphrasing from memory): “Warning: XDG_DATA_HOME and XDG_DATA_DIRS are not set! Please make sure that ‘/var/lib/flatpak/exports/share’ is in the search paths given by those variables”.

So I added the following lines to my “/etc/profile” file, and they are apparently not working as I intended, because the “:” is not being interpreted as an “add another directory to look in” command as it is with $PATH:

# Make sure that "/var/lib/flatpak/exports/share" is in the search path
# set by the variables "XDG_DATA_HOME" and "XDG_DATA_DIRS":

Perhaps I should do the following instead?

# Make sure that "/var/lib/flatpak/exports/share" is in the search path
# set by the variables "XDG_DATA_HOME" and "XDG_DATA_DIRS":

Edit, 10min later: Well, that didn’t work! I did that and rebooted, and my GUI session booted to an all-black screen. No desktop, no widgets, no panel. So I did ctrl-alt-F3, su, “cd /etc”, “micro profile”, and commented-out that whole section of “/etc/profile” and rebooted. I now get the following for those two variables:



So at lest the “DIRS” variable is being set correctly by something, and my attempted interventions just made matters worse. So I’ll just leave that section out of my profile, unless there’s some other intervention I should be taking.

What?! Don’t you think I have enough problems already?! Get that stuff out of my home!


Sorry, man, just kidding — I couldn’t resist. :stuck_out_tongue:


Sorry, I got lazy and decided to dump all my problems on your living-room rug. :slight_smile:

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Hah! I don’t have any rugs in my living room (or anywhere else in my apartment)! :stuck_out_tongue:

Kid making a funny face

Where did you find that wildly inaccurate information? Also, that’s the wrong file. Either use /etc/environment for all users or ~/.profile per user.

Please see the relevant Arch Wiki articles and official documentation:



That seems like one really huge green WallyWorld bug…

Edit:- Oh, OK, so that’s… rugs… not bugs… perhaps I misread. :wink:

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