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Default programs to be started

This page helps you to set default programs which open with various actions performed with your desktop, or even from command-line, or anything meant to be a default that can be changed.

The purpose of these settings is wide since this can affect applications started during the boot process, or just the ones which run when you perform a click on your file browser.

Debian Reference Manual : Customizing program to be started

Environment Variables

Refer to: EnvironmentVariables

System wide

Debian Alternatives

Debian Alternatives is a convenient mechanism to replace hard written command names in some program calls. It does so by managing the symlinks behind the generic names of the commands.

You can see current settings with :

$ upgrade-alternative --get-selections

and change them by :

# upgrade-alternative --config <name_of_command>

Example :

# update-alternatives --config x-www-browser
Il existe 3 choix pour l'alternative x-www-browser (qui fournit /usr/bin/x-www-browser).

  Sélection   Chemin                Priorité  État
* 0            /usr/bin/firefox-esr   70        mode automatique
  1            /usr/bin/chromium      40        mode manuel
  2            /usr/bin/firefox-esr   70        mode manuel
  3            /usr/bin/surf          30        mode manuel

Appuyez sur <Entrée> pour conserver la valeur par défaut[*] ou choisissez le numéro sélectionné :


sensible-utils provides scripts for common use cases.

This package comes handy when writing scripts which are meant to start a browser, editor or a pager, since you don't have to hardwrite the name of the software, but rather rely on sensible utils to run the user's prefered software or what makes the most sense.

$ dpkg -L sensible-utils | grep /usr/bin/


XDG provides a set of utilities (xdg-utils...) and commands (xdg-open...) to work with files according to their file types.

This might be used by your applications (file manager such as midnight commander, or web browsers) when you set up actions according to file types.


To be confirmed

In case several packages provide the same functionality, reconfiguring them will make the reconfigured package take precedence.


# dpkg-reconfigure <package>
dpkg-reconfigure gdm3


Used by some MUAs such as mutt, and other programs.

Permits some generic commands, see run-mailcap

Application specific


Go into following menu : Preferences > Applications (or type about:preferences#applications in address bar).



CategoryDesktop | CategorySystemAdministration