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What's the difference between x-www-browser and gnome-www-browser? I came across it here: Setting the default browser when update-alternatives fails.

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Both are scripts that, when configured by update-alternatives, call the default application for internet browsing on a GUI environment.

The script x-www-browser calls the application configured to run on any desktop environment that runs under X Server, while gnome-www-browser application configured specifically calls for GNOME. Similarly, www-browser is a script to call the default browser on a TUI (text-based user interface) environment, such as w3m or elinks, for example.

  1. You can check which browser they are associated with the commands

    update-alternatives --display x-www-browser
    update-alternatives --display gnome-www-browser
    
  2. To list all the alternatives to these scripts, use

    update-alternatives --list x-www-browser
    update-alternatives --list gnome-www-browser
    
  3. To configure a default browser, use the commands

    sudo update-alternatives --config x-www-browser
    sudo update-alternatives --config gnome-www-browser
    

Since these scripts can call different browsers, it may happen that a certain program call a browser other than the default browser. This often causes confusion for some users, but this issue can be fixed by running the command sudo update-alternatives --config as explained in item 3, above.

Sources:

  • Thanks for a nice sum-up! Additionally, to install a new alternative (just before 3), use update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/x-www-browser x-www-browser /opt/firefox/firefox 100 (and the same for x-www-browser). – johndodo Sep 26 '18 at 18:41

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