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Control of File Types in Ubuntu

Apr 15, 2010, 15:34 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Delan Azabani)

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"Ubuntu uses advanced systems for detecting file types and associating them with applications, but it's not that hard to dive in and take some control over the formats. In this article by Delan Azabani, you'll learn how Ubuntu identifies file types, how to use Assogiate to control these processes, using Ubuntu Tweak to associate types with applications and use Bless to inspect binary files. What is a file type?

"Let's not go as far deep as "What is a file?", but before we start, let's take a look at file types. File types are determined by the contents of the files themselves, and are used to allow the opening program to be chosen wisely. In Microsoft Windows, file extension globbing is the sole method of identifying file types. Users must provide a common phrase at the end of files, and the files would be searched by their name, in turn providing the correct icon and program.

"Things are a little different in Ubuntu. Of course, globbing (the most basic method) is present for file types, but Ubuntu has a few other tricks up its sleeve. One of these is magic numbers. The magic number of a binary file is the first few bytes, which identify the file type. The definition of a "magic" number has somewhat loosened in recent years; it can now mean any piece of data, generally near the beginning of a file, that can be used to uniquely identify the type."

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