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My question is pretty simple:

Is there a command I can use in bash that will open a specific URL in the default browser?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 23 down vote accepted

There's a command that knows about your default browser:

xdg-open http://google.com

This will also work for every other type of URI (Uniform Resource Identifier), like images - which will automatically open with eog, openoffice documents, and so on, and also on filesystem paths (xdg-open /tmp/foobar.png).

There is also

xdg-email team@stackexchange.com

and

xdg-mime query default text/html

To find out what application is going to be used.

You can set your preffered application by going to System → Preferences → Preferred Applications:

alt text

These utilities are part of the freedesktop.org specification, so you can use them in your applications - and it's going to work on all of the desktops that adhere to the spec.

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You can use xdg-open like so:

xdg-open http://askubuntu.com/

From the XDG-OPEN man page:

xdg-open opens a file or URL in the user's preferred application. If a URL is provided the URL will be opened in the user's preferred web browser.

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gnome-open works as well as xdg-open but neither knows what to do with naked domain.

So gnome-open http://askubuntu.com works but not gnome-open askubuntu.com.

Here is a small function to make it easier to type and accept the stripped down domain name.

function go { gnome-open http://$1 ; }

Paste the above in your command line, hit enter and try it out. If you like it you can save it to your .bash_aliases or .bashrc file, then source ~/.bash_aliases (assuming it is in your home directory) and it will be persistent for that session and all new sessions.

So now we just type go askubuntu.com and wallah!

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