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2020-01-16

Vimb: my Firefox replacement

Web browsing, suckless style

After having recently installed KISS, and building Firefox from source, I was exposed to the true monstrosity that Firefox—and web browsers in general—is. It took all of 9 hours to build the dependencies and then Firefox itself.

Sure, KISS now ships Firefox binaries in the firefox-bin package; I decided to get rid of that slow mess anyway.

Enter vimb

vimb is a browser based on webkit2gtk, with a Vim-like interface. webkit2gtk builds in less than a minute—it blows Firefox out of the water, on that front.

There isn’t much of a UI to it—if you’ve used Vimperator/Pentadactyl (Firefox plugins), vimb should look familiar to you. It can be configured via a config.h or a text based config file at ~/.config/vimb/config. Each “tab” opens a new instance of vimb, in a new window but this can get messy really fast if you have a lot of tabs open.

Enter tabbed

tabbed is a tool to embed X apps which support xembed into a tabbed UI. This can be used in conjunction with vimb, like so:

tabbed vimb -e

Where the -e flag is populated with the XID, by tabbed. Configuring Firefox-esque keybinds in tabbed’s config.h is relatively easy. Once that’s done—voilà! A fairly sane, Vim-like browsing experience that’s faster and has a smaller footprint than Firefox.

Ad blocking

Ad blocking support isn’t built-in and there is no plugin system available. There are two options for ad blocking:

  1. wyebadblock
  2. /etc/hosts

Caveats

Some websites tend to not work because they detect vimb as an older version of Safari (same web engine). This is a minor inconvenience, and not a dealbreaker for me. I also cannot login to Google’s services for some reason, which is mildly annoying, but it’s good in a way—I am now further incentivised to dispose of my Google account.

And here’s the screenshot y’all were waiting for:

vimb

Questions or comments? Send an email to ~icyphox/x@lists.sr.ht—my public inbox.

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