These are not really standards

Note: is not a standards body.

Draft specifications that have pretty good de facto adoption/agreement:

  • Desktop base directory spec details how desktops should locate files at runtime.
  • Desktop Entry specification describing information about an application such as the name, icon, and description. These files are used for application launchers and for creating menus of applications that can be launched.
  • Menu specification specifies how menus are built up from desktop entries.
  • The shared MIME database contains common MIME types, descriptions, and rules for determining the types of files.
  • The Icon Theme specification proposed specification for a common way to store icon themes.
  • Free Media Player Specifications deal with standard ways to store and read metadata across players and media formats.
  • The startup-notification-spec describes a mechanism to allow desktop environments to track application startup, to provide user feedback and other features.
  • The Trash specification provides a common way in which all "Trash can" implementations should store, list, and undelete trashed files.
  • The Autostart specification describes how applications can be started automatically after the user has logged in and how media can request a specific application to be executed or a specific file on the media to be opened after the media has been mounted.
  • The XML Bookmark Exchange Language, or XBEL, is an Internet "bookmarks" interchange format.

X-related specifications:

  • DnD is the drag-and-drop specification shared between ?GTK+ and ?Qt. A local copy of the spec resides on the wiki. Work on revisions are in progress.
  • Window manager specification standardizes extensions to the ICCCM between X desktops; we are also working to merge these extensions into the ICCCM itself as appropriate.
  • The XEmbed proposed specification for inter-application embedding of controls.
  • X clipboard explanation is not a formal specification, but explains our consensus on how the X clipboard works. Qt and GTK+ both follow this document.
  • UTF8_STRING selection format for interchange of UTF-8 data.

Draft specifications that are new and not yet widely used, though they may be used by one or more desktops or desktop applications:

If you feel any of these specs should be moved among the "standard", "de facto", and "proposed" categories, please let us know on

X protocol extensions:

Specifications currently in the planning/requirements-gathering stages:

Retracted Specifications

  • The Desktop Color Scheme specification is a draft specification that defines names for colors to be used for rendering user interface elements. It also provides an algorithm for generating a matching set of colors from a single base color (The colorscheme spec has been pulled on request of its authors).