Related to this answer on my previous question.

So, XDG can handle it on its own:

  • It can manage default applications - xdg-mime
  • It can open file with associated application - xdg-open.

Why do desktop environments make their own replacements for xdg-open? Like gvfs-open, kde-open, or exo-open,...

Isn't xdg-open enough? If not, what does it lack?

1 Answer 1


The Arch Wiki says:

Inside a desktop environment (e.g. GNOME, KDE, or Xfce), xdg-open simply passes the arguments to that desktop environment's file-opener application (gvfs-open, kde-open, or exo-open, respectively), which means that the associations are left up to the desktop environment. When no desktop environment is detected (for example when one runs a standalone window manager, e.g. Openbox), xdg-open will use its own configuration files.

So, they are not replacements, but backends.

  • 2
    This presumably allows the DE's freedom to, e.g., implement functionality that may not be provided by xdg-open.
    – goldilocks
    Feb 16, 2015 at 19:09
  • 2
    @goldilocks Rather, it's to allow e.g. PDF files to be opened by Okular under KDE, Evince under Gnome, etc. Feb 16, 2015 at 21:44
  • 2
    unix.stackexchange.com/questions/144047/… has more about how the delegation works.
    – deltab
    Feb 16, 2015 at 22:36
  • @Gilles That's not "rather", that's "as in" ;)
    – goldilocks
    Feb 17, 2015 at 1:05

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