[xubuntu-users] Why does Firefox persist as default browser in some contexts...

Peter Flynn peter at silmaril.ie
Thu Jan 5 23:14:38 UTC 2017

On 01/05/2017 12:43 AM, Len Philpot wrote:
> ...despite not being visibly set as default? For HTMLfiles in a volume,
> Chrome opens by default. Yet particularly from applications when opening
> HTML help, for example, they all-too-often do so in Firefox.
>   * I have Chrome set as the webbrowser in Preferred Applications.
>   * There are zero references to Firefox (nor Mozilla, for that matter)
>     to be found in the Mime Type Editor.
>   * 'exo-open --launch WebBrowser' launches Chrome
>   * 'update-alternatives' shows Chrome as the "auto mode" default,
>     although there's a manual mode available (not tried that yet)
>   * There are no in-app preferences for default browsers in the apps
> What am I missing?


Two things:

1. The arrogance of Thunderbird in making it virtually impossible to
force links to open in Chrome instead of FF. I have no idea why they do
this (except of course FF is "their" browser). Their config option
simply does not work (gets ignored).

2. The equal stupidity of Chrome in refusing to open mailto: links by
passing them to Thunderbird or your nominated mailer: instead it takes
no action, and if you try to open a mailto: link in a new window, it
opens a new Chrome window on the same page and does nothing. This is
because it uses a deeply unwise little utility called xdg-open, which is
fundamentally broken.

[1] is easily fixed by uninstalling Firefox and never using it again.

[2] has no solution AFAIK. Three years after highlighting this, it has
not been fixed, and you still cannot click on a mailto: link and get a
Thunderbird (or indeed any) composer window, because it's impossible to
reconfigure xdg-open to call the right application.

Yes Dan, "it's hard for a programmer to know how to look up the user's
favorite browser", but only because no-one is prepared to take the first
step and enforce global definition of $BROWSER, $MAILER, $EDITOR,
$TERMINAL, $FILEMANAGER, and maybe a few others.

I have no problem in devs using a more complex system to do this if they
wish, like exo-open, but it need to be configured to work all the time,
on all of the URL methods, and if it is intended to replace xdg-open,
then it should do so and xdg-open should be wiped from the distros.

Maybe one day someone will clean up this mess...it's unnecessary, and
very embarrassing when you try to explain to new users how wonderful
Linux is, and especially [X]Ubuntu, and then have it fall flat on its
face when they click on a link.



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