I want to open a.html in a browser from emacs (v. 24.5.1, using -Q [updated after comment]).

M-x shell-command
xdg-open a.html

works as expected, but

M-x eshell
$ xdg-open a.html

does not seem to do anything. There is no error message. This problem also occurs when exporting and directly opening html files from org-mode.

  • This seems to work in my config. Does it not work for you in emacs -Q?
    – PythonNut
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 17:53
  • I've updated the question -- I was already using emacs -q -Q Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 17:58
  • 1
    @JannisTeunissen Unless I am mistaken, -Q includes the -q option, so -q -Q will be the same as -Q
    – elethan
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 18:41
  • Also, this does not answer the question as to why xdg-open does not work in eshell, but you can use the command browse-url-of-file called from a buffer visiting a.html to open that file in your default browser.
    – elethan
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 18:44
  • 2
    Try setting process-connection-type to nil (you can just type (setq process-connection-type nil) at the eshell prompt). (By the way, while this works on my machine, I don't understand why it works.)
    – Omar
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 23:01

2 Answers 2


Set process-connection-type to nil. To be honest I don't understand why xdg-open doesn't work when that variable has the value t and I also can't remember how I learned that changing the value let me use xdg-open from Emacs. (If someone knows, I'd love to hear about it.)

  • Hm, can't reproduce this here on my Linux machine. Is this by any chance linked to the operating system Emacs runs on?
    – wasamasa
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 8:43
  • The problem occurred on Debian unstable and Fedora 22 Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 14:10

Using setsid -w $shell_cmd is better, because of (setq process-connection-type nil) causing some problems like sudo: no tty present and no askpass program specified when using M-& sudo $shell_cmd.


  • I face this problem when opening links to external files in org-mode (links of type file+sys) Could you elaborate on what do you mean by "using setsid -w ..."? how/where do I use that? Also, I don't want to just open 1.pdf (as seen in the link you post), but any file.
    – onlycparra
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 21:28

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