open(1) removed from Debian? (was: 'open' instead of 'xdg-open' for usability?)

Robert Qualls robert at
Sat Dec 21 22:28:56 PST 2013

Although I was the one that brought this up, after what has been
discussed so far, I definitely don't think xdg should own the open
command, either through link, rename, or script. It's possible the
user will want xdg-utils but will prefer to have open associated with
something other than xdg-open. Having a specific implementation own
open would basically be making the same mistake again, even if in a
milder way.

Instead, I think open belongs in a separate project for high-level,
user-facing commands that's basically just a bunch of wrappers that
can be easily personalized by users and maintained over time. This
way, the community can have a discussion about what commands should be
kept and how they should be implemented.

I'm currently working on prototypes of some of these, namely: open,
convert (ffmpeg+imagemagick for now), build, download, package
(universal package manager that uses conversion utilities (and maybe
docker?) to install foreign packages). I plan to have something
fleshed out and on github in January or Febuary. Maybe a pretentious
manifesto document.

Robert Qualls.

On Sat, Dec 21, 2013 at 10:46 PM, Jerome Leclanche <adys.wh at> wrote:
> I have to agree. Regardless of the decision on xdg's side, the
> debian-specific "open" binary shouldn't exist.
> J. Leclanche
> On Sun, Dec 22, 2013 at 4:43 AM, Ma Xiaojun <damage3025 at> wrote:
>> On Sun, Dec 22, 2013 at 4:23 AM, Matthias Klumpp <mak at> wrote:
>>> Btw, I don't find "I like open better" a good justification for
>>> dropping it from kbd - you are asking essentially for an API break
>>> which has unforseen consequences if we just swap some binary names on
>>> shell, especially with shell-scripts which are not included in Debian.
>> Given giant API breakage like making sh Dash instead of Bash or
>> probably a init system change someday. I fail to see any reason to cry
>> about this tiny little API change.
>>> Standard is irrelevant here, as it is "just" a binary name, and
>>> popularity is something to argue about.
>> It is "just" a symbol link that exists for no merits.
>> Have you read the open(1) ?
>> Does it encourage people to use "open" at all?
>> The history in the context of 1996 isn't boring, Ah?
>>> I am not the kbd maintainer, so it's up to them to decide a rename (or
>>> more precide, it's upstream's decision). I like "open" for files more
>>> too, but unless kbd is the only user of that command, renaming it will
>>> cause problems.
>> It seems that kdb upstream is not claiming open(1); it's a Debian "extension".
>> xdg doesn't have to claim open(1) overnight either. It's just that the
>> current usage of open(1) is a waste of namespace.
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