When I ran GNOME, I used to be able to click on any link in Emacs, and it would open in my default web browser.

But now that I'm using i3, it doesn't work any more, even though I haven't changed any Emacs settings. I don't get any messages or errors—it just does nothing. I also tried M-x browse-url-at-point, while on a URL, but that doesn't work, either.

As far as I can tell, I have the appropriate settings: browse-url-browser-function is browse-url-generic, and browse-url-generic-program is set to qutebrowser, my default browser. So why can't I open URLs? And/or how can I debug this?

  • Please specify what you mean by "doesn't work". What happens, and what did you expect to happen instead? Can you give a recipe (starting with emacs -Q - no init file) to reproduce the problem?
    – Drew
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 20:52
  • I already specified as much as I can: "I don't get any messages or errors—it just does nothing." What I expect to happen instead is what the function is meant to do. From the documentation: "Ask a WWW browser to load URL."
    – Jonathan
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 20:54
  • Try M-x (executable-find "qutebrowser") RET. Does this show the path or does it just show nil?
    – Tobias
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 22:18
  • It returns the correct path.
    – Jonathan
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 23:08

1 Answer 1


This took me forever to figure out, but it turns out Spacemacs had cached a bunch of environment variables. One in particular, $XAUTHORITY, was making it so that qutebrowser wouldn't start. Manually editing my spacemacs env file and updating that variable fixed the problem.

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