Nautilus Will No Longer Launch Binaries Or Desktop Files

Nautilus executable

Nautilus (or Files), the Gnome file manager, received a Git update which removes its ability to launch binaries or programs in general. That means you won't be able to double click binaries, scripts, or desktop files to run them - this includes the ask dialog which lets you choose if the file should be launched or displayed.

A quite big consequence of this change is that you won't be able to launch AppImage files from Nautilus any more, though I think AppImage files were not intentionally targeted by this change (I may be wrong). As a side note, this also affects applications or games distributed as self-extracting scripts.

That's because AppImage files are not installed, and to run them you either have to use a file manager (but this feature is gone from Nautilus with this update), or to create a desktop file in ~/.local/share/applications/. I don't see the latter as a solution because it's not intuitive at all, and it's unnecessarily complicated.

Hopefully another way of launching AppImage files will be implemented in Gnome.


The Git commit message mentions the first reason as follows:

For long we used to support that since the desktop was part of Nautilus. Also, back then we didn't have a Software app where you are expected to installs apps. Back then it was common for apps to be delivered in a tarball, nowadays that's out of question.

Simply put, there's no longer a need for the Gnome Files application to launch binaries and desktop files.

Another reason behind the decision to not allow launching binaries or desktop files from Nautilus is security. Again, the commit message explains this:

We also are not able to be secure enough to handle this, as we saw in the past we allowed untrusted binaries to be launched, and therefore we had a CVE (CVE-2017-14604) for Nautilus. We are not being audited (afaik) and we are not in a position that we can let this issues slip.

The complete commit message is here.

Along with this feature, it looks like the ability to edit desktop files (which is currently possible from a desktop file context menu, by selecting Properties) will be gone from Nautilus as well. Or so it seems as per this bug report.

Until this change, Nautilus had an option (screenshot above) to display executable files, directly run them, or ask what to do each time an executable file was double clicked, while the default behavior was to display it (with a text editor).

Update: Nautilus Ability To Launch Binaries Or Scripts To Be Reverted, Might Be Implemented Differently

News via Reddit (u/doubleunplussed).


  1. Bit by bit Gnome becomes even more useless.

  2. Gnome keeps proving me right features are bugs is their mentality when it comes to their decision making. It just each decision just gets dumber and dumber and makes the vanilla Gnome desktop more unusable.

  3. GNOME - the walled garden you never asked for.

  4. Soooo.... GNOME is taking the view that running applications is not something a UI should be doing???
    Please, GNOME, start building smartwatches. Your heart is clearly not with the desktop anymore. Leave that to Mint and and the Cinnamon team. It's OK. The desktop is covered so you can go where your heart is now. It's fine. Really.

  5. GNOME developers have failed in life. Literally part of the PURPOSE of a file manager is to be able to launch files!!! # apt-get remove --purge nautilus ## now useless

  6. This doesn't really affect anyone, since you can just install a different file manager within GNOME if you need this feature. It's amazing how people chastise GNOME for every little change they make.

    1. Every little STUPID change, yes.

    2. We know it's possible to install differents file manager, the average user do not. She will simply try to launch an app (like she does on that other OS) and it will not work. And, BTW, how could be considered normal to install an os and spend time to install extensions to make it usable? Just use something different. The problem is, a software with no users simply will die.

  7. This decision is outstandingly beyond stupid. Instead of becoming a consumer-grade environment (because let's face it: you want linux to go mainstream? Design it with mainstream users in min), it's becoming a patched obscurity.

  8. The Gnome project is digging its own grave...

  9. Lol, so if I used Nautilus, I would now be forced to use the terminal in order to install all my Linux GOG games unless I switch to some other file manager (or do some hand-tweaking to get a desktop shortcut for the installer first)? :) That's kind of ridiculous. I'm happy I'm using neither GNOME nor Nautilus, or I would have considered switching to something else (at least from Nautilus).


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