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qutebrowser

written by Robin Schubert on 2019-06-08 | Tags: tooling, miscellaneous

It's been the third plugin for Firefox, that was intended to enable the use of vim keybindings to browse the web or open and close tabs. I've been a long time Firefox user now; it is free and open source and the Mozilla Foundation does a lot for the FOSS community (although I cannot judge about that). Still, I've switched to Pale Moon for quite some time, as I found its privacy policy to be more straight forward, and I often do not understand decisions Firefox makes for removing or implementing several modules (RSS, pulseaudio, etc). However, when I was feeling a bit limited by Pale Moon (e.g. with not supporting rtmp at all), I was switching back to Firefox for compatibility reasons.

However, I have one requirement: I do want to control the browser with the keyboard, rather than with my mouse, preferably using vim keybindings. I was using plug-ins to gain that functionality for a long time, starting with Pentadactyl, then Vimperator and finally Vim-Vixen. Eventually, they all broke after some Firefox updates and I had to look around for the next solution.

A week ago I tried qutebrowser for the first time, I don't think I will need something else any time soon. qutebrowser does exactly what I want it to do, and coming from vim-controlled Firefox, it was so intuitive to use as if I was using it for years already.

I actually stumbled about it when I was looking for successful FOSS PyQt5 projects, so qutebrowser became the first browser for which I started reading the source code - even before I started to use the browser regularly.

As of now, after ~4 weeks of daily use, I did not find any page or web element that could not be rendered properly. The only issue I had was when I ran

pip install --user PyQt5

to install the Python Qt5 bindings for local use. Unfortunately, this put a newer version of PyQt5 to my $PATH which conflicted with qutebrowser. So I uninstalled and installed into a virtual environment instead, which is much cleaner anyway.

This post is meant to be my personal recommendation for a fast and lightweight FOSS browser and a big THANK YOU for all the contributors!

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