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qutebrowser

Discussion in 'General Linux Discussion' started by Daerandin, Oct 30, 2020.

  1. Daerandin

    Daerandin Well-Known Member

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    I've been a long time Firefox user, but certain recent news have made me less than enthusiastic about the future of Firefox. In particular the news that Mozilla's top exec pay has increased by 400% while usage has declined, and they have fired roughly 250 employees. Mozilla's primary source of income is Google, which comes from Google being the default search engine on Firefox, this in itself seems like an ethical problem in my eyes.

    Obviously you can change the default search engine quite easily, and where Firefox might fail to protect your privacy there will always be browser plugins such as adblockers, noscript and the like.

    Still, I found myself wanting to look into different browsers. Now there are a lot to look for, such as the "ungoogled chromium", which is the Chromium browser, but with all the builtin Google parts removed. There are also Firefox forks that focus more on security. Suffice it to say, you are almost guaranteed to find a browser that suits your needs.

    Personally I have a thing for minimal interfaces, and I REALLY like vim-like keybindings. On Firefox I was using something called Vimium, which adds vim-like keybindings for a more keyboard driven experience. Turns out there are also multiple browsers that aim for this goal, and this is where I find qutebrowser.

    qutebrowser has a minimal interface and vim-like keybindings. The actual backend/browser engine is based on Chromium, but with all the proprietary and google bits removed. qt5-webengine is the name of the backend. qutebrowser itself is really just a browser interface that sits on top of the backend engine, so the qutebrowser developer only work on the interface. The qt5-webengine backend gets frequent security updates based off chromium, so security is not an issue.

    By default, qutebrowser is no more privacy oriented than most other browsers, but it is easily configured as long as you are willing to take the time. I can easily and quickly enable/disable javascript for a particular website with just three quick keypresses on the keyboard. There is a simple host-based adblock built in, although a more comprehensive adblocker is in development currently.

    Since the browser itself is so simple, there is no password storage, which I actually really like. Instead, it relied on pass, which is a secure password storage software for Linux, it uses gnupg to store your password encrypted. I need to manually enter in website url/username/password for pass in the command line, but after that's all done I can autofill password forms with a single keypress (this must be manually configured first). Navigating websites with just keyboard is also quite simple, to "click" on a link, or picture, or any other element, I first click on "f", which will highlight each clickable element with a keycode, which I then press to select an element.

    I can of course also use my mouse if I want to, but I find myself relying mostly on the keyboard. I do realize that most people would prefer a browser with a more common interface, but I find this browser to perfectly cater to my needs and preferences. And I just wanted to share it in case others might be intrigued and want to try it out.

    Here's a few screenshots, although there is not really much to show. Websites still look like regular websites, it's just the actual browser interface that is lacking the usual buttons and toolbars.

    qutebrowser.png

    This next screenshot shows how clickable elements on the page will be highlighted after I press "f"

    highlight.png
  2. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    Wow, controlling a browser with the keyboard!
    Using VI controls too?!!!

    You are definitely the Linux expert and guru!

    I love using keyboard shortcuts... in fact sadly I've gotten so good at Windows that I can do most tasks with a keyboard. I've always love how you can control windows, menus and options with the keyboard. This is another reason I love Mint. It has a lot of standard Windows keyboard shortcuts. I know other distro's do as well.

    So what can't qutebrowser do that most people like to do?

    A lot of people like playing flash games, WebGL, stream music radios, watch HD movies, etc.
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  3. Daerandin

    Daerandin Well-Known Member

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    This browser can do most anything, since the actual backend engine is the chromium engine. Flash is also fully supported, but you would need to specifically enable plugins before you can use it. Personally I don't have flash installed, are there even websites that still use it? Besides, flash is a big gaping hole in your browser security.

    I have actually specifically disabled webgl as well, since it is considered insecure. As for media content, it's no problem, I'm viewing 4K videos on youtube. But since the current adblocker is host-based, it can't block youtube ads. To circumvent this I have created a keybinding that will let me open youtube videos in mpv, which will completely avoid any ads.
  4. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    Nice!
    I was asking from a standard user point-of-view.... ha ha
    Of course a standard user would probably never use qutebrowser.

    Yeah, there are a lot of flash sites with games, video streaming, interactive applications, etc.
    I don't know what they are going to do once Flash is no longer supported?

    Sounds like a hardcore browser! If I was up for a challenge, I would probably try it... without the VI controls of course :)
  5. Daerandin

    Daerandin Well-Known Member

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    I thought most sites these days that use interactive applications just write them in JavaScript. And video streaming does not require Flash either. I am honestly quite curious because I do as of right now only know of one web site, which is REALLY old, that requires Flash. And that is homestarrunner.com

    Most modern browsers (Chromium and Chrome included) will not let you run Flash applications unless you click through multiple confirmations.

    As for qutebrowsers keybindings, it's actually quite simple:

    cheatsheet-big.png
  6. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    There are a lot of games on Miniclip.com Armorgames.com and other gaming sites that still require flash

    upload_2020-11-2_13-4-11.png

    upload_2020-11-2_13-6-11.png

    Clearly flash is not enabled which is good... but all of these old games and websites are going to struggle.
    There is a game my family plays online called littlebigsnake.io and it uses flash.
    Hopefully they are working on a JavaScript/HTML5 version
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  7. Daniel~

    Daniel~ Chief BBS Administrator Staff Member

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    Sounds like you guys have found a match made in heaven!
    (But you lost me at "Keyboard)

    When I was in school, 10th grade, typing was a rarely chosen elective, Mostly used by would be future secretaries.
    Yeah that WAS 56 years ago. LOL
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  8. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    They had no idea almost all jobs would require a computer in the future.
    Its like living Star Trek

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