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I'm using Debian squeeze with Gnome Desktop for all my users. I have a group of machines to set up so that all users should use xpdf as a default viewer (rather than evince).

I want this set up to be done by command line (even better, using puppet).

I know about xpg-mime command, but the man page says that the default command should not be used as root.

I could manually tweak the /etc/gnome/defaults.list files, but I'm looking for a single command I could run to perform the setting without an editor interaction.

Any ideas?

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Well, Linux defaults are set by editing text files. I doubt you can avoid that. You can however automate it. The following sed command will change /etc/gnome/defaults.list in the way that you need:

sed -i '/pdf/s/evince./xpdf./g' 
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