January 24, 2001

ESR announces browser project

Author: JT Smith

Eric S. Raymond writes:
"What comes after the classic Unix environment variables PAGER, MAILER,
and EDITOR? Why, "BROWSER," of course -- an environment variable that
informs programs of the user's preferred web bowser for launching URLs.
My latest experiment in hacking social systems is to find out whether
the open-source community can successfully manage to adopt a standard
that requires small but coordinated changes to possibly as many as
several dozen projects in order to make it really effective.
I've written, tested, and submitted patches to Gnu Emacs, Python, and
urlview(1) that make them aware of the new BROWSER environment
variable. I have also submitted a patch for the Linux environ(5)
manual page.
Widely publicizing that I'm doing all this is also an essential part
of the experiment. How far will this meme spread? Can we bootstrap a
new standard environment variable into existence at this late date in
Unix's evolution?
There's a BROWSER project page at
There, I will log reports of BROWSER support being folded into other
programs that must call browsers."


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