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Change your default browser to Chromium in Debian and Emacs

Chromium Logo

Chromium Logo

The web browser is nowadays the most important and frequently used tool in a computer. Recently I’ve been using more the Chromium browser than Firefox, on in Debian’s case, Iceweasel. This is for several reasons:

– Better memory management (doesn’t eat up all my RAM)
– Extensions are also available for Chromium
– Faster browser startup
– Faster page loads
– Full HTML5 support, which is lacking in Debian Wheezy’s Firefox (err… Iceweasel) which is still on version 3.5.19 at the time of this writing.

So I decided to change my default browser to open in Chromium for all applications. To do the change, at the terminal, type:

sudo update-alternatives --set x-www-browser /usr/bin/chromium


sudo update-alternatives --set www-browser /usr/bin/chromium

If you’re using KDE 4 you also need to open the System Settings, click on Default Applications, Select Web Browser and choose the second radio button option so it reads: “Open http and https URLs in the following browser” and type “chromium” in the text box. Click the Apply button and close the window.

Since I do almost everything with Emacs, I also needed to configure it to use Chromium as its default browser. To set that, you just need to add the following to your .emacs file:

(setq browse-url-browser-function 'browse-url-generic
      browse-url-generic-program "chromium-browser")

I still love Firefox, but it has staled away from the cool minimalistic and fast browser it was when it started. Chromium is now filling that gap, so I hope that in future versions (maybe the new Firefox 5?) memory handling gets better as well as loading times.

About the author

Gabriel Saldaña Gabriel Saldaña is a web developer, photographer and free software advocate. Connect with him on and Twitter

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6 thoughts on “Change your default browser to Chromium in Debian and Emacs

  1. Maybe you need to watch this again to remember Mozilla is not just about features, like the G, but people.

    1. haha, says the one who switched to Google Chrome several months ago? 😛

      Like I said, I still love Firefox and Mozilla, and will contribute whenever needed, but we can’t be blind about its current issues.

      1. I tried Chromium several months ago, and I’m back with Firefox 🙂

        Try FF4, you are a developer, you don’t need to use it from the debian packages. 😉

  2. Dylan says:

    I’m still learning emacs so just a quick question.

    I plan to use firefox so I would imagine that I just need to point to Firefox in the.emacs file.

    Just quickly, how do you launch it within emacs? Sorry if this a nooby question.

    Thanks for your time.

    1. Yes, just replace the path to chromium with the path to your firefox program. You can do that by typing in the terminal: which firefox and it will return the path to it.

      To launch it from emacs, if you set up the variables I mention, you can use M-x browse-url-generic. There are other options that you can explore by typing M-x browse-url and you’ll see all the other functions available.

  3. Dylan says:

    Thanks for that 😀

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