The package mime-support is installed by default on Debian systems. It has two roles: first to provide the file /etc/mime.types that associates media types (formerly called MIME types) to suffixes of file names, and second to provide the mailcap system that associates media types with programs. I adopted this package at the end of the development cycle of Wheezy.

Changes since Wheezy.

The version distributed in Jessie brings a few additions in /etc/mime.types. Among them, application/vnd.debian.binary-package and text/vnd.debian.copyright, which as their name suggest describe two file formats designed by Debian. I registered these types to the IANA, which is more open to the addition of new types since the RFC 6838.

The biggest change is the automatic extraction of the associations between programs and media types that are declared in the menu files in FreeDesktop format. Before, it was the maintainer of the Debian package who had to extract this information and translate it in mailcap format by hand. The automation is done via dpkg triggers.

A big thank you to Kevin Ryde who gave me a precious help for the developments and corrections to the run-mailcap program, and to all the other contributors. Your help is always welcome!

Security updates.

In December, Debian has been contacted by Timothy D. Morgan, who found that an attacker could get run-mailcap to execute commands by inserting them in file names (CVE-2014-7209). This first security update for me went well, thanks to the help and instructions of Salvatore Bonaccorso from the Security team. The problem is solved in Wheezy, Jessie and Sid, as well as in Squeeze through its long term support.

One of the consequences of this security update is that run-mailcap will systematically use the absolute path to the files to open. For harmless files, this is a bit ugly. This will perhaps be improved after Jessie is released.

Future projects

The file /etc/mime.types is kept up to date by hand; this is slow and inefficient. The package shared-mime-info contains similar information, that could be used to autogenerate this file, but that would require to parse a XML source that is quite complex. For the moment, I am considering to import Fedora's mailcap package, where the file /etc/mime.types is very well kept up to date. I have not yet decided how to do it, but maybe just by moving that file from one package to the other. In that case, we would have the mime-support package that would provide mailcap support, and the package whose source is Fedora's mailcap package who would provide /etc/mime.types. Perhaps it will be better to use clearer names, such as mailcap-support for the first and media-types for the second?

Separating the two main functionalities of mime-support would have an interesting consequence: the possibility of not installing the support for the mailcap system, or to make it optional, and instead to use the FreeDesktop sytem (xdg-open), from the package xdg-utils. Something to keep in mind...