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Comment: back to old version, purpose of this page still not very clear. Added infos moved into new DefaultPrograms page.
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## Editor note:
## This page's intent isn't clear, first because of its name, also because documentation it covered wasn't very clear either.
## That said, switching between various applications having the same purpose is indeed a common problem.
## As of early 2018, several wiki pages still provide their own instructions as to how to change the favorite "web browser" or how to switch the Display Manager.
## So this page for now is an attempt to centralize these instructions.
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== Default programs to be started ==

When running your Desktop Environment, what application runs when you click some file from your browser? Does Firefox, Nautilus, rox-filer or midnight commander and every application behave the same way? What happens when you uninstall the application that was meant to read your videos?

These common problems find various answers.

{{{#!wiki debian
Debian Reference Manual : [[https://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/debian-reference/ch09.en.html#_customizing_program_to_be_started|Customizing program to be started]]}}}

=== Environment Variables ===

Refer to: [[EnvironmentVariables]]

=== System wide ===

==== Debian Alternatives ====

[[DebianAlternatives|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 ====

[[DebPkg: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 and MIME ====

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.

==== dpkg-reconfigure ====

''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

==== mailcap ====

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

Permits some generic commands, see DebianMan:run-mailcap

  ''run-mailcap, view, see, edit, compose, print - execute programs via entries in the mailcap file''

=== Application specific ===

==== Firefox ====

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

==== rox-filer ====


Translation(s): English - Español - Italiano - Svenska

(!) ?Discussion

Install icons

When a program is installed, it can copy a file programname.desktop into /usr/share/applications. This suffices to get a launcher in the desktop panel and desktop menu regardless of the window manager (Xfce, GNOME or KDE).

The specification of the .desktop file is a FreeDesktop standard.


Modern desktop environments allow you to use alternative configuration sets (or combine different configuration sets).

One problem is that each of the desktop environments, and freedesktop each use a different way to activate/deactivate these configuration sets.

  • the desktop-profiles package solves this, by providing a common way to control the activation/deactivation of such configuration sets.

This still leaves the problem of the actual creation of such configuration sets, but making it easy for different ideas of what should be default to co-exist, and compete for market-share.

Look into the files under /etc. Some desktop environments allow you to preconfigure proxies, javascript and cookie policy etc. For KDE you may also refer to http://techbase.kde.org/SysAdmin for more info about the configuration, including making settings immutable to users.