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After I installed Google Chrome on my work laptop, Pidgin links open with Chrome even though Firefox is set as my default browser. Pidgin is using sensible-browser to open links. How can I get sensible-browser to use the default browser?

I found a couple of posts about similar problems here and here but the solutions seemed to be "run a bunch of random commands and one of them might possibly fix the issue". I need to understand what the underlying problem is before I can take any steps to fix it.

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sensible-browser does the following:

  1. if the BROWSER environment variable contains anything, it splits the value using : and each substring is tried as a candidate for a browser (so you can set BROWSER to be your favourite browser's executable);
  2. if you're running GNOME, it tries running gnome-www-browser, which you can configure using update-alternatives --config gnome-www-browser (as root) to point to your favourite browser;
  3. if that fails, or you're not running GNOME, it tries running x-www-browser, which you can configure using update-alternatives --config x-www-browser (as root) to point to your favourite browser;
  4. if that fails, it tries running www-browser, which you can configure using update-alternatives --config www-browser (as root) to point to your favourite browser (but it's supposed to be a text-mode browser such as Lynx or W3M).

None of the alternatives take their value from your desktop environment's default; that explains why they ignore the browser you've configured.

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