Why do so many programs live in PATH?

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http://unix.stackexchange.com – One thing that puzzles me about desktop Linux, at least, is that just about everything is in my PATH. By everything, I mean every desktop application, including things like gnome-character-map and glchess. These have no command line interfaces to speak of, so I can't think of a case where I would be regularly launching these from a terminal - and, within that unlikely case, I can't imagine being inconvenienced by needing to type their full paths. It just seems cluttery, but maybe there's a good reason. So, why does this happen? Is there any noteworthy impact on performance or maintainability? (HowTos)