$ xdg-open
The program 'xdg-open' is currently not installed. You can install it by typing:
sudo apt-get install xdg-utils

$ sudo apt-get install xdg-utils
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
xdg-utils is already the newest version.
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 89 not upgraded.

$ whereis xdg-open
xdg-open: /usr/bin/xdg-open /usr/bin/X11/xdg-open /usr/share/man/man1/xdg-open.1.gz

$ which xdg-open

$ xdg-open
The program 'xdg-open' is currently not installed. You can install it by typing:
sudo apt-get install xdg-utils

No, I didn't mean "recursion".

I'm on Linux Mint 15 MATE, but instead of MATE I'm using the i3 window manager.

Edit taking @slm's advice

$ type -a xdg-open
type: xdg-open not found

But it's in /usr/bin/xdg-open. I checked.

$ dpkg -S /usr/bin/xdg-open
xdg-utils: /usr/bin/xdg-open

The next one was even more interesting.

$ dpkg -S xdg-open
git-annex: /usr/share/doc/git-annex/html/bugs/Fix_for_opening_a_browser_on_a_mac___40__or_xdg-open_on_linux__47__bsd__63____41__.html
xdg-utils: /usr/bin/xdg-open
xdg-utils: /usr/share/man/man1/xdg-open.1.gz

The bug-fix is just a mail archive of a patch for an OSX problem. Anyway, I guess I could try using the full path:

$ /usr/bin/xdg-open
/usr/bin/xdg-open: No such file or directory
  • Someone with 300+ reputation might like to create a more appropriate tag. – nacnudus Nov 16 '13 at 3:49
  • 2
    +1 This made me laugh. Maybe it's a zen koan, in apt form? – ire_and_curses Nov 16 '13 at 3:51
  • I found what's wrong. Just writing up an answer. Wouldn't have found it without @slm's suggestion of dpkg -S xdg-open. – nacnudus Nov 16 '13 at 7:33
  • See updates to my answer on how to reinstall a broken package safely on Debian/Ubuntu based distros. – slm Nov 16 '13 at 8:30

This sounds like your package database is screwed up. First I'd identify all the versions of xdg-open that you have on your system. The type should always be used for doing this task, never rely on which or whereis.


Identify all xdg-open's.

$ type -a xdg-open
xdg-open is /usr/bin/xdg-open

Find out which packages they're a part of.

$ dpkg -S /usr/bin/xdg-open
xdg-utils: /usr/bin/xdg-open

You'll want to either repeat the above dpkg -S .. for each match returned by type -a or use this dpkg -S .. search instead.

$ dpkg -S xdg-open
xdg-utils: /usr/bin/xdg-open
xdg-utils: /usr/share/man/man1/xdg-open.1.gz

I would do each, one at a time.

Reinstalling xdg-utils

If you'd like to refresh this package's installation do this:

$ sudo apt-get --reinstall xdg-utils
  • I shouldha waited! Don't worry - I cancelled the uninstall asap and managed to recover by pasting the list of programs it said it would uninstall into a sudo apt-get install command. Phew. – nacnudus Nov 16 '13 at 8:59

Thanks to @slm's tip, I tracked this down.

A while back, I followed some bad advice to make chromium-browser the default on Linux Mint. The advice was, delete usr/bin/xdg-open, then create a symlink in its place to chromium-browser.

It sure made Chromium the default browser. It made Chromium the default for lots of things.

Since then, of course, I installed the official Chrome for Linux from Google. It worked as the default automatically and I forgot about the kludge.

Unfortunately, it's hard to fix. You can remove the symlink okay, but how to retrieve the original? sudo apt-get install xdg-utils doesn't bother because it thinks it's already up-to-date. sudo apt-get remove xdg-utils is currently busy uninstalling virtually my entire system.

  • Don't remove it!!! See my updates. – slm Nov 16 '13 at 8:27

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