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).