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In Debian 10 there is this command to choose the default browser:

 update-alternatives --config x-www-browser

I installed Waterfox from a .deb file and it is not showing up in the list of available browsers. Is there a way to add it?

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1 Answer 1

17

Your setup is probably similar to mine, I have two entries in the link group x-www-browser for Firefox and Google Chrome. Let's take this as example:

$ update-alternatives --display x-www-browser
x-www-browser - auto mode
  link best version is /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable
  link currently points to /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable
  link x-www-browser is /usr/bin/x-www-browser
  slave x-www-browser.1.gz is /usr/share/man/man1/x-www-browser.1.gz
/usr/bin/firefox-esr - priority 70
  slave x-www-browser.1.gz: /usr/share/man/man1/firefox-esr.1.gz
/usr/bin/google-chrome-stable - priority 200

There are two symbolic links setup pointing to the selected entry:

$ ls -l /usr/bin/x-www-browser
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 31 Sep 16  2018 /usr/bin/x-www-browser -> /etc/alternatives/x-www-browser
$ ls -l /etc/alternatives/x-www-browser 
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 29 May  4 20:45 /etc/alternatives/x-www-browser -> /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable

And the interactive menu shows Google Chrome as auto-selected (highest priority):

$ update-alternatives --config x-www-browser
There are 2 choices for the alternative x-www-browser (providing /usr/bin/x-www-browser).

  Selection    Path                           Priority   Status
------------------------------------------------------------
* 0            /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable   200       auto mode
  1            /usr/bin/firefox-esr            70        manual mode
  2            /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable   200       manual mode

Press <enter> to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number:

Add an entry

To add an entry, you need the --install command, the link, the link name, the path to the program and priority.

Change the path to Waterfox and priority as needed:

sudo update-alternatives \
  --install /usr/bin/x-www-browser x-www-browser /usr/local/bin/waterfox 210

Result:

$ update-alternatives --config x-www-browser
There are 3 choices for the alternative x-www-browser (providing /usr/bin/x-www-browser).

  Selection    Path                           Priority   Status
------------------------------------------------------------
* 0            /usr/local/bin/waterfox         210       auto mode
  1            /usr/bin/firefox-esr            70        manual mode
  2            /usr/bin/google-chrome-stable   200       manual mode
  3            /usr/local/bin/waterfox         210       manual mode

Press <enter> to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number:

You can setup optional slave links as shown for Firefox above. If Firefox is selected, an additional link x-www-browser.1.gz pointing to the man page /usr/share/man/man1/firefox-esr.1.gz is setup.

The syntax for --slave is the same as for --install, but without priority, e.g.:

sudo update-alternatives \
  --install /usr/bin/x-www-browser x-www-browser /usr/local/bin/waterfox 210 \
  --slave /usr/share/man/man1/x-www-browser.1.gz x-www-browser.1.gz /usr/local/share/man/man1/waterfox.1.gz

Remove an entry

To remove Waterfox again, you need the link name and path:

sudo update-alternatives --remove x-www-browser /usr/local/bin/waterfox
2
  • Excellent explanation, thank you!
    – raphael75
    Commented May 5, 2020 at 13:22
  • update-alternatives: error: alternative link /usr/bin/x-www-browser is already managed by x-www-browser
    – Jiang YD
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 2:12

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