Linux: Default browser

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When I click on a link from within Pidgin, the Google Chrome webbrowser opens, although I have specified in KDE { System Settings | Default Applications | Web Browser } that my default webbrowser is Firefox.


  • Pidgin-2.10.3
  • KDE-4.8.5

Solution 1. Per-user, set BROWSER environment variable

Set the BROWSER environment variable in ~/.profile:

#  Indicate preferred webbrowser for graphical or text terminal respectively
[ $DISPLAY ] && export BROWSER=firefox || export BROWSER=w3m

If your login-shell is set to /bin/bash (see /etc/passwd), and you have a file called ~/.bash_profile, make sure, ~/.profile gets included when you login on a text terminal:

#--- ~/.bash_profile ------
[[ -f ~/.profile ]] && . ~/.profile

Solution 2. System-wide, setup symlinks

Depending on your distribution, check if these chains of symlinks below, end up pointing to your preferred webbrowser, e.g. firefox or w3m for a graphical or text terminal respectively. You can modify a symlink like this:

sudo ln -sf /usr/bin/firefox /usr/bin/x-www-browser


Graphical terminal

|-> /etc/alternatives/gnome-www-browser
    |-> /usr/bin/firefox

|-> /usr/bin/firefox

Text terminal

|-> /etc/alternatives/www-browser
    |-> /usr/bin/w3m

Solution 3. Configure your desktop environment


Go to { System Settings | Workspace Appearance And Behavior | Default Applications | Web Browser } and set your preferred webbrowser.

Solution 4. Configure your application


Go to { Tools | Preferences | Browser } and set your preferred webbrowser.

See also

The Default Browser on Linux Debacle | Evan Teran's Blog
Similar blog about the default browser problem
Make path environment set in .bashrc available in krunner • KDE Community Forums
Forum thread. One solution proposes setting environment variables in ~/.kde/env.
Setting Up Shell Initialization Files
Article on how to setup initialization files, depending on your login shell (C Shell, Bourne Shell or Korn Shell)





From within Pidgin I can see at { Tools | Preferences | Browser } that the browser selection is set to "Manual" and the executed command is "sensible-browser". This actually is a shell script:

$ type sensible-browser
sensible-browser is /usr/bin/sensible-browser
$ file /usr/bin/sensible-browser
/usr/bin/sensible-browser: POSIX shell script, ASCII text executable

The sensible-browser script first looks for a BROWSER environment variable and if that doesn't exist it executes /usr/bin/gnome-www-browser which is symlinked to:

|-> /etc/alternatives/gnome-www-browser
    |-> /usr/bin/google-chrome

So that's why Google Chrome is started.

Setting BROWSER to "firefox" in .bashrc only has effect when "pidgin" is started from bash. When "pidgin" is started from "krunner", the default browser is still Chromium?

From this command it can be seen that "krunner" has no BROWSER setting:

$ cat /proc/$(pidof krunner)/environ | tr '\000' '\012' | grep BROWSER

To have the BROWSER environment variable set for krunner, the BROWSER environment variable must be set in ~/.profile not ~/.bashrc


Try changing shebang of /usr/bin/startkde from #!/bin/sh to #!/bin/bash and see if that makes the BROWSER setting from .bashrc into KRunner.

Re: kde startup, .profile, env.vars., etc.:
Analysis of Ryo Furue what's going on when starting kdm

Apparently, this is what's started on Kubuntu-12.04:

\_ kdmrc
   \_ Xsession
Why .profile, .bash_profile, and .bash_login? - Life and Opinions
Tristram Brelstaff attempt of understanding the differences between the bash login files. The conclusion is to use .bash_profile as the appropriate place to put bash-specific commands to be run when starting a login shell.


I encounter this process tree on Ubuntu-12.04, running KDE:

 \_ /usr/bin/X :0 ...
 \_ lightdm --session-child ...
     \_ /bin/sh /usr/bin/startkde

Because startkde contains the shebang "#!/bin/sh", only /etc/profile and .profile are sourced?

Bug #794315 “lightdm forgets to source /etc/profile and ~/.profi...” : Bugs : “lightdm” package : Ubuntu
But if I don't have a /etc/lightdm/Xsession, who's sourcing /etc/profile and .profile then?
lightdm - What happens under the covers to log me in and start up the Unity Graphics User Interface? - Ask Ubuntu
From this article it becomes apparent that /usr/sbin/lightdm-session sources /etc/profile and ~/.profile.


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