3.8. /home : User home directories (optional)

3.8.1. Purpose

/home is a fairly standard concept, but it is clearly a site-specific filesystem. [6] The setup will differ from host to host. Therefore, no program should assume any specific location for a home directory, rather it should query for it. [7]

3.8.2. Requirements

User specific configuration files for applications are stored in the user's home directory in a file that starts with the '.' character (a "dot file"). If an application needs to create more than one dot file then they should be placed in a subdirectory with a name starting with a '.' character, (a "dot directory"). In this case the configuration files should not start with the '.' character. [8]

3.8.3. Home Directory Specifications and Conventions

A number of efforts have been made in the past to standardize the layout of home directories, including the XDG Base Directories specification [9] and the GLib conventions on user directory contents. [10] Additional efforts in this direction are possible in the future. To accomodate software which makes use of these specifications and conventions, distributions may create directory hierarchies which follow the specifications and conventions. Those directory hierarchies may be located underneath home directories.

[6] Different people prefer to place user accounts in a variety of places. This section describes only a suggested placement for user home directories; nevertheless we recommend that all FHS-compliant distributions use this as the default location for user home directories. Non-login accounts created for administrative purposes often have their home directories elsewhere.

On smaller systems, each user's home directory is typically implemented as a subdirectory directly under /home, for example /home/smith, /home/torvalds, /home/operator, etc. On large systems (especially when the /home directories are shared amongst many hosts using NFS) it is useful to subdivide user home directories. Subdivision may be accomplished by using subdirectories such as /home/staff, /home/guests, /home/students, etc.

[7] To find a user's home directory, use a library function such as getpwent, getpwent_r of fgetpwent rather than relying on /etc/passwd because user information may be stored remotely using systems such as NIS.

[8] It is recommended that, apart from autosave and lock files, programs should refrain from creating non dot files or directories in a home directory without user consent.

[10] A description of GLib's conventions can be found in the documentation for GUserDirectory, at http://developer.gnome.org/glib/unstable/glib-Miscellaneous-Utility-Functions.html#GUserDirectory.