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If I type

gnome-open foo.pdf

it shows an error for me: Error showing url: Operation not supported. But if I give absolute path

gnome-open ~/what/ever/foo.pdf

it works fine.

Is this a known limitation or a bug?

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I may be wrong, but I think the command xdg-open can open relative URLs. Opening my Linux virtual machine right now. – Piccolo Jun 20 '13 at 2:39
Odd, something must be wrong with your system as gnome-open should work as it is used in your first example and does do so on my system. – Dan D. Jun 20 '13 at 3:24

My comment was correct. If Ubuntu supports xdg-open (most distros do, but I haven't tested it), you can just do the following:

xdg-open foo.pdf

It also won't complain if you give it the full path.

xdg-open ~/what/ever/foo.pdf
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