Why does a .desktop file have a different name across systems?

Here’s an illustration of what I mean.

  • In Manjaro, load manjaro.forum.com in Firefox > drag the lock symbol of the address bar > drop it in Thunar (as showing a location in an NTFS partition of a disk of a Windows comuter).
  • See Thunar propose “Create Link” named “Manjaro Linux Forum” > change name to “forum.manjaro.org” > “Create”
  • See the file created with these names:
    • In Manjaro (Thunar): forum_manjaro_org.desktop
    • In Ubuntu (Thunar): forum.manjaro.org
    • In Windows: forum_manjaro_org.desktop
  • In Ubuntu, add 2 after forum > see result:
    • In Manjaro: forum_manjaro_org.desktop
    • In Ubuntu: forum2.manjaro.org
    • In Windows: forum_manjaro_org.desktop
  • In Manjaro, replace 2 with 3> see result:
    • In Manjaro: forum3_manjaro_org.desktop
    • In Ubuntu: forum2.manjaro.org
    • In Windows: forum3_manjaro_org.desktop
  • In Windows, replace 3 with 4> see result:
    • In Manjaro: forum4_manjaro_org.desktop
    • In Ubuntu: forum2.manjaro.org
    • In Windows: forum4_manjaro_org.desktop
  • At this point, drag the file out to Manjaro’s desktop and see it display as simply:
    • forum.manjaro.org
  • Open the file in a text editor in Ubuntu or Windows and see these contents:
[Desktop Entry]

In sum, you’ll see that Ubuntu wants to use a displayed name of its own while Manjaro and Windows go together. But it would also appear that only Ubuntu (Thunar) displayed the name as consistent with the Name[en_US.UTF-8]= name inside (if not also the Name=).


  1. How could I make sense of this variability of displayed name? (This speaks to motivation. I can’t imagine why anybody would want three different names for a file, now the one displaying, now the other.)
  2. How could I get Manjaro to accept the name as I enter it, e.g. forum.manjaro.org instead of changing it to forum_manjaro_org?
  3. How could I get the Name= name inside the file to keep up with the change of the name as displayed?
  4. How could I get the Name[en_US.UTF-8]= name inside the file to keep up with the change of the name as displayed (in Manjaro and Windows)?

I realize 2 through 4 may be impossible. I don’t plan to go back to Ubuntu and am not in the habit of opening .desktop files.

An autobiographically aside: This used to be a great nuisance when I was on Ubuntu. It meant I had to choose the right name for the link (.desktop file) and never change it.

[nikgnomic] post edited to deactivate multiple links to forum

Hello @jamjar :wink:

I did not even think that I can drag and drop a link into thunar, but hey, some people might find it handy.

Anyway… what your tests show is the difference between the actual filename and the meta name in the desktop file.

Filename: forum_manjaro_org.desktop
Parsed from Meta Name=: forum.manjaro.org

So on Ubuntu there is the same filename, but it presents you the meta name.

I am not sure when this changed and where, but I can remember thunar was showing the meta of the desktop file. Still Ubuntu has it, and maybe they will patch it in their version, so that it stays, but Manjaro follows here strictly upstream.

Here is another test. Thunar and PcmanFM:

As you see, Thunar shows the file name and PcmanFM shows the meta name.

Maybe ask upstream, so the developers what and why it has been changed: NEWS · master · Xfce / thunar · GitLab

There might be good reasons. Security would be one point, since it can hide the real file name. Desktop files can be easily modified to run harmful code. Windows has the same problem with its *.lnk files.