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

Kevin Krammer krammer at
Thu Dec 26 03:48:13 PST 2013

On Tuesday, 2013-12-24, 17:06:08, Thomas Kluyver wrote:
> On 24 December 2013 16:37, Kevin Krammer <krammer at> wrote:
> > Well, a quick check would have revealed that it is.
> > Cross platform development always requires testing on the targetted
> > platforms,
> > one can not simply assume things.
> But I don't go and check that simple commands like cp or grep will work on
> a Mac.

Depends on the arguments you provide to these commands.
We all know very well that these commands can vary in capabilities, behavior 
and understood commandline switches a lot depending on platform.

> It's easy to see how someone could have assumed that 'open' is a
> similarly common command and would work on Linux systems. Of course you can
> blame developers who make incorrect assumptions, but why not aim to make
> the obvious assumptions correct?

I am not blaming anyone for making assumptions, correct or otherwise. I am 
just saying that assumptions need to be verified. Either by research or by 

Just to be clear I also do not blame the developers for not testing on Linux 
or not caring about supporting their software on Linux.

> > Even if a tool or command with the same name exists it might have
>> different capabilities, arguments or options.
> That is a valid concern - OSX's open has several options that xdg-open does
> not (currently). But I think the benefit of having a similar obvious way to
> load files and URLs outweighs that. Developers are also familiar with
> common commands like cc and make being provided by different
> implementations that may support different options.

It will still need testing, so there is no magic bullet.

If the software vendor does not want to use a different code path in their 
main software and rely on calling 'open' then they can simply ship a trivial 
shell script that forwards the arguments to xdg-open.

Or do it the other way around and use a simple redirector on OS X, with the 
additional benefit of not having to know the installation path since 'xdg-
open' is likely not used by anything else on the platform that is not xdg-


Kevin Krammer, KDE developer, xdg-utils developer
KDE user support, developer mentoring
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