xdg-settings set <anything> fails with status 2 because of a small glitch

Bug #1511154 reported by Michał Roszka
This bug affects 15 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
xdg-utils (Ubuntu)
Fix Released

Bug Description

(Existing description has been broken up into sections.)


The first user-facing symptom: Google Chrome stable is correctly set as the default browser in System Settings / Details / Default Applications as well as in

update-alternatives --display x-www-browser

yet it keeps complaining about not being a default browser. Clicking "Make Google Chrome the default browser." on Chrome's settings page has no response.

The problem is reported here http://askubuntu.com/questions/688779/google-chrome-stable-keeps-asking-if-it-should-be-set-to-default but the answer is somewhat wrong.

[Test Case]

I have successfully reproduced and debugged the problem. I managed to establish that it is connected to xdg-utils, namely to /usr/bin/xdg-settings script.

michal@furia:~$ lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description: Ubuntu 15.10
Release: 15.10
Codename: wily
michal@furia:~$ xdg-settings get default-web-browser
michal@furia:~$ xdg-settings set default-web-browser google-chrome.desktop
michal@furia:~$ echo $?
michal@furia:~$ xdg-settings get default-web-browser

There is a function in /usr/bin/xdg-settings called desktop_file_to_binary() and it has a bug. It is slightly different than the one in the vanilla xdg-utils 1.1.0 rc3. It is implemented in scripts/xdg-utils-common.in.

See line 65 in xdg-utils-1.1.0~rc3+git20150907/scripts/xdg-utils-common.in :

command="`grep -E "^Exec(\[[^]=]*])?=" "$file" | cut -d= -f 2- | sed -e 's/ .*$//'`"

When executed against google-chrome.desktop or firefox.desktop it results with:





When passed to `which` and then to `readlink -f` it results with no path to the actual binary. In the vanilla xdg-utils package (version 1.1.0 rc3) the `sed` part is replaced with `first_word`. An alternative would be adding `| head -n 1`.

Then we would have only one `google-chrome-stable` or `firefox` which in turn would result with the actual path to binary resolved correctly and that would make xdg-settings work fine.

Also, it is possible to set Google Chrome as the default browser via its preferences and the aforementioned first user-facing symptom is gone.

[Regression Potential]

Limited. The commands after the modified lines assume that there is only one line, so passing the output of the modified lines through `head -n1` should ensure that. In the case of there being 0 or 1 lines before the `head -n1` command, nothing will be changed.

In the worst case, there may exist a .desktop file where the first Exec line isn't the main program (mentioned in comment 2 below). In that case, however, this change will result in the incorrect program being chosen; this may or may not be better than the command not working at all.

Tags: patch wily
description: updated
description: updated
description: updated
Revision history for this message
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in xdg-utils (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Revision history for this message
Iuri Chaer (iuri-chaer) wrote :

Attaching a patch with Michał's proposed fix, which works for me. I think it makes sense to use head -n1, the first Exec entry is likely to be a good pick -- if anyone adds a funny Exec entry, I'd expect it to not be the first one.

I've found the same bug through a different path -- I ran execsnoop to try and figure out what chromium was doing when it complained about not being the default browser, and it's actually invoking `xdg-settings check default-web-browser chromium-browser.desktop`, which, in my environment (identified as gnome3) calls the exact same desktop_file_to_binary ... function.

Revision history for this message
Ubuntu Foundations Team Bug Bot (crichton) wrote :

The attachment "Add head -n1 to grep for Exec inside .desktop file, so the next command doesn't get a multiline input." seems to be a patch. If it isn't, please remove the "patch" flag from the attachment, remove the "patch" tag, and if you are a member of the ~ubuntu-reviewers, unsubscribe the team.

[This is an automated message performed by a Launchpad user owned by ~brian-murray, for any issues please contact him.]

tags: added: patch
Revision history for this message
Iuri Chaer (iuri-chaer) wrote :

Actually, you may want to do the same for the other lines grepping for Exec inside .desktop files as well :)

Mathew Hodson (mhodson)
Changed in xdg-utils (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Medium
tags: added: wily
Revision history for this message
Michael Terry (mterry) wrote :

Thanks for the patch! I've uploaded it to xenial.

Revision history for this message
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

This bug was fixed in the package xdg-utils - 1.1.0~rc3+git20150907-1ubuntu3

xdg-utils (1.1.0~rc3+git20150907-1ubuntu3) xenial; urgency=medium

  [ Iuri Chaer ]
  * debian/patches/handle-multiple-exec-lines.patch:
    - Handle desktop files (like Chrome's) that have more than one
      Exec line in them. LP: #1511154

 -- Michael Terry <email address hidden> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 16:56:07 -0500

Changed in xdg-utils (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Fix Released
Revision history for this message
Łukasz Jagielski (ljagielski) wrote :

Hi, can this be backported to wily too?

Revision history for this message
Gustav Ekner (gustav-ekner) wrote :

This bug i still present in 15.10 and it's very annoying. Will it be fixed there?

Revision history for this message
Mo (alim0x) wrote :

Hope backport to wily

Revision history for this message
Tomi Urankar (tomi0) wrote :

Need backport to 15.10

Revision history for this message
Ryan Lux (alphalux) wrote :

I can confirm this problem in 15.10, and editing /usr/bin/xdg-settings as mentioned fixes the problem, allowing the default browser to be properly set.

description: updated
Revision history for this message
Carlos García (carlosgarcia) wrote :

I can also confirm this problem in 15.10.

Revision history for this message
chris (christian.ego) wrote :

Had the same problem and can confirm editing /usr/bin/xdg-settings fixes the problem!

Revision history for this message
MR Zenwiz (mrzenwiz) wrote :

I am still seeing the "Google Chrome is not your default browser" on bionic.

4.15.0-32-generic #35-Ubuntu SMP Fri Aug 10 17:58:07 UTC 2018 x86_64 GNU/Linux

VERSION="18.04.1 LTS (Bionic Beaver)"
PRETTY_NAME="Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS"

Chrome version:

Google Chrome
Version 68.0.3440.106 (Official Build) unknown (64-bit)

I'm running this in a VirtualBox VM on Win 10.

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