'open' instead of 'xdg-open' for usability?

Robert Qualls robert at robertqualls.com
Mon Dec 16 02:03:57 PST 2013

Today I was about to open a pdf from the terminal and realized that I
forgot what my document viewer was. I tried something that I assumed
wouldn't work but seemed fairly logical and obvious - the 'open' command.
Now, of course, that did not work, but after a search I was somewhat
surprised to see that there are commands like gnome-open and xdg-open.

Instead of making users google this, shouldn't we just have a universal
'open' command on all freedesktop environments? If xdg-open is desktop
agnostic, then I assume it could be installed with a link/script named
'open' until a better (Non-GUI-dependent? More coordinated?) solution is

Apparently, 'open' is a command in OSX, and when this user asks what the
Linux equivalent is, they are told to alias xdg-open to get similar


So maybe we should have a script that calls
xdg-open $1 &> /dev/null

Imagine the following conversation:
new user: What command do i use to find files?
*nix veteran: Oh, that's easy. Use xzzy-locate.
new user: W-why not...just locate? That makes sense.
*nix veteran: 'Cause we're a bunch of nerds.
new user: oh.

When I got the document open I saw that my viewer was evince. No wonder I
couldn't remember.

Robert Qualls.
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