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On every operating system I have used (Ubuntu, Fedora, Windows, and Mac OS X), there has been a standard for hidden files. Initially I thought that this feature was simply to hide some files from view when looking at a directory listing, but it seems that this may not be the only reasoning.

What is the reasoning behind an OS having the "feature" of hidden files?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Hidden files aren't important.

Oh, of course, they run your OS and store your configuration, so without them you'd be a bit stuck, but you don't need to see them. They're pretty unimportant to you. People care about things that have a use to them, so hiding the things that don't is a good move from a usability standpoint, to reduce information saturation.

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This is an interesting perspective on "importance" of files. Thank you for the mental shift. –  user3463 Jan 24 '11 at 23:43

One of the main reasons is to avoid PEBKAC errors -- inexperienced users deleting and modifying files when they don't know their purpose. If you can do something to save yourself a large percent of support calls, I'd suggest doing it :)

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If you can link back to the original comic strip that introduced the world to PEBKAC, I'll give you +1. –  user3463 Jan 24 '11 at 23:41
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@Randolph Potter I don't know which one was the original, but this one (and derivatives) have been around for ages : img192.imageshack.us/img192/7793/pebkaccomicstrip.gif :) –  John T Jan 24 '11 at 23:51
    
Good enough for me. That's the one I was thinking of. –  user3463 Jan 24 '11 at 23:52
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"PICNIC" error, problem in chair not in computer –  Moab Jan 24 '11 at 23:59
    
That's a new one (to me anyway). I like it. –  user3463 Jan 25 '11 at 7:52

My guess would be: to stop average users from deleting important files.

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So if you remove folder with system files then they would be gone too. Thats for windows. Anyways thats an old bad way. Not important to know to get computer working.

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