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I was wondering what's the terminal command to open the default web browser.

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up vote 49 down vote accepted

sensible-browser is the command you're looking for.

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Thanks! I also found the more general xdg-open. – Luca Oct 19 '10 at 10:55
What about the differences between sensible-utils package and the system of alternatives found in /etc/alternatives and modified by update-alternatives? – enzotib Oct 19 '10 at 12:59
For me sensible-browser opens Opera instead pf default Chrome. xdg-open works as expected. – incrop Jun 17 '14 at 15:12

Searching on Google I found the answer.

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. If a file is provided the file will be opened in the preferred application for files of that type. xdg-open supports file, ftp, http and https URLs.

xdg-open is part of xdg-utils package and it's already installed on Ubuntu 10.10.

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what does xdg stand for? Its hard to remember without knowing that. – Thupten Jul 13 '14 at 14:42
XDG stands for X Desktop Group aka – Luca Jul 13 '14 at 19:05

You can also use:


And it will open the URL in the default browser.

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With default Ubuntu setup only gnome-open command comes to mind.

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With default Ubuntu setup, sensible-browser and xdg-open commands work as well. – marenostrum Oct 19 '10 at 12:38
The advantage is that you can use gnome-open for almost all file-types, URIs and directories. It's one command to learn, instead of trying to remember about obscure commands like sensible-browser – Stefan Lasiewski Oct 21 '10 at 18:19
@Stefan Lasiewski: xdg-open should do the same thing - actually, it will call gnome-open, or kde-open, or whatever, depending on your desktop environment. Thus it's more portable. – Piskvor Aug 22 '11 at 14:37

I played around this a little. There is a problem with gnome-open — it won't invoke the default web browser unless you specify a url. That's a problem if you want to set up an icon or a shortcut that will always launch the browser that is set as default. Other times you might need to set it as a parameter for some programs that require a link to a web browser and don't work well with gnome-open (e.g.: acroread). You might solve this by using either x-www-browser or gnome-www-browser system links that you can set up through update-alternatives, but those are system wide settings, not user specific (and they are not synchronized with the values set through gnome-default-applications-properties. All this can be solved by opening the sensible-browserexecutable (which is actually a script):

sudo gedit $(which sensible-browser)

and adding this at the beginning:

BROWSER=$(gconftool -g /desktop/gnome/url-handlers/http/command)
export BROWSER="${BROWSER//"\"%s\""/}"

That will make sensible-browser always launch the user-specified default web browser. (I found out that gnome-default-applications-properties changes some gconf keys according to the browser that is currently set. The default browser value can be obtained from any of these keys so I went for /desktop/gnome/url-handlers/http/command and used it to fill the $BROWSER variable (the value is stripped of the "%s" part). )

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I wouldn't recommend editing /usr/bin/sensible-browser as this answer recommends. This change will be overwritten on a system upgrade. – Gilles Feb 21 '14 at 11:53

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