Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My head exploded.

I packed all the pieces back in so I could tell you about how it happened. It starts out like a n00bie post, but seriously – it's not. For the sake of brevity, I wish the story were shorter. :-\

Opened Firefox to DL TunesViewer.deb from SourceForge, but the dialog box suggested VLC Media Player as the default installer. That's not right. That should be some sort of package installer, not VLC.

(Note: is this a FF issue or an Ubuntu issue? I'm pretty savvy, but this has me scratching my head. Other google searches seem to indicate the same state of mind as others attempt to answer the same question. It's incredibly simple, and incredibly confusing. Google searches uncover similar questions back to at least 2006.)

So in Firefox I go to the Helper Apps tab, and .deb files is set to "Always ask." So I delve further.

I notice as I'm about to DL it, the dialog box reads

You have chosen to open dialog box

"Firefox should open it with a package installer" my inside voice says. When I select

Open With... Other... dialog box


 Choose Helper Application 

dialog box suggests recently used documents and folders, but nothing to point to a willing install helper application. (Note: These are documents and directories – not applications. The dialog box is entitled "...Application." Therein lies a clue.)

In a moment of brilliance, I double click the DLed .deb file and get what I think is just a generic

 Package Installer

dialog box. (At this point, I hadn't noticed that it was GDebi Package Installer that was running. That was a complete disconnect that I can't explain. Fatigue, perhaps.)

I'm now google searching for what to set as the default install application for .deb files.

I google search "ubuntu package installer" and find


but there's also


the waters are muddied, and I'm feeling more lost than before. *sigh*

More google searching. This URL


got me straightened out. Right click the .deb file, select the sequence

Open With... Other Application... hierarchical menus

and the list of

 Recommended Applications 


 GDebi Package Installer 

as an option, the rain stops, the sun shines, and birds are chirping.

Here's the moral of the story, presented as a feature request: When encountering this dialog box:

enter image description here

and you're presented with the Select Helper Application dialog box (note the Cancel and Open buttons at the bottom):

Select Helper Application dialog box

can you also provide a

 "Show Applications"

button somewhere similar to the choices offered when right clicking the .deb file in the desktop? This would change the above dialog box to something like this (note there are now three buttons at the bottom):

Select Helper Application Show Applications button

More simply, can the sequence

 Open With... Other Application...

simply show the application selection dialog box instead?

Select Application dialog box


share|improve this question

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.