[Mono-list] Opening user's browser

Felipe Almeida Lessa felipe.lessa at gmail.com
Fri Dec 30 07:58:18 EST 2005

On 12/29/05, Miguel de Icaza <miguel at ximian.com> wrote:
>  Hello,
> > I'd like to have a function that opens a link in the user's web
> > browser. Googling about it I didn't find an arch-independent solution.
> > The best I could do until now is:
> The answers to this post deserve to make it into our FAQ.
> Felipe, do you have a summary?   I can give you a Wiki account, it might
> come in handy later as well.,
> Miguel

You mean something like:

== How to open a link in the user's browser? ==

Currently different environments have different ways of opening the
user's web browser:
* Windows: you just execute a command with only the URL of the site
and its shell opens the right web browser.
* Linux: there are several different systems. On GNOME you can use
"gnome-open" command. You could also read the BROWSER environment
variable or use the "sensible-browser" command on Debian systems, but
these may call a console browser, which is not desirable. Another
possiblity is to try to open several common browsers, such as Firefox,
Epiphany, Konqueror, Galeon, Mozilla and Opera.
* Mac: you can use the "open" command.

If you want your program to be cross-platform, you have to try to
support each way of opening an URL. You can do so by having a function

using System;
using System.Diagnostics;

/// <summary>
/// Tries to open a link on the user's web browser.
/// </summary>
/// <remarks>
/// You just need to call this function with the URL of the address of the
/// web site and have a fallback in case it returns false.
/// <return>
/// Returns true if the link could be successfully opened, false otherwise.
/// </return>
/// <param name="address">
/// The URL of the site you want to open (e.g. "http://www.mono-project.com/").
/// </param>
public static bool OpenLink(string address) {
    try {
        int plat = (int) Environment.OSVersion.Platform;
        if ((plat != 4) && (plat != 128)) {
            // Use Microsoft's way of opening sites
        } else {
            // We're on Unix, try gnome-open (used by GNOME), then open
            // (used my MacOS), then Firefox or Konqueror browsers (our last
            // hope).
            string cmdline = String.Format("gnome-open {0} || open {0} || "+
                "firefox {0} || mozilla-firefox {0} || konqueror {0}", address);
            Process proc = Process.Start (cmdline);

            // Sleep some time to wait for the shell to return in case of error

            // If the exit code is zero or the process is still running then
            // appearently we have been successful.
            return (!proc.HasExited || proc.ExitCode == 0);
    } catch (Exception e) {
        // We don't want any surprises
        return false;

If your program is meant to be run only under GNOME, you have a better
and easier solution, however. It is suficient to call Gnome.Url::Show,
as shown below:

import Gnome;


public void OpenMyProgramWebsite()

"Quem excele em empregar a força militar subjulga os exércitos dos outros
povos sem travar batalha, toma cidades fortificadas dos outros povos sem as
atacar e destrói os estados dos outros povos sem lutas prolongadas. Deve
lutar sob o Céu com o propósito primordial da 'preservação'. Desse modo suas
armas não se embotarão, e os ganhos poderão ser preservados. Essa é a
estratégia para planejar ofensivas."

  -- Sun Tzu, em "A arte da guerra"

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