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#1 2009-03-13 19:58:13

&#32 Greg
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Registered: 2009-02-08
Posts: 80

Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

Well, like many, I've become a bit unsatisfied with Firefox of late. I enjoyed the earlier versions of the browser because it was fast, simple, and extensible. Last night I was thinking about how I wish it would go back to that small, fast core with not so much excess. I then laughed at myself for thinking like an Arch user- hell, why do I need a GUI on my browser by default?

As I laughed, I started expanding on the idea. Read for your own amusement.

Core of the browser can be run from terminal like Lynx, or if you're in a GUI development, it opens a console window. That mode behaves in a similar way.
Then you can use browman -S to install mouse support, for use on console mode. A full GUI can be added, tabs, bookmarks, password managers, download managers, making it as heavy or light as you want, with only the features you use.

Now I'm trying to imagine the browser config files... edited by hand of couse smile

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#2 2009-03-13 20:50:10

pinchyfingers
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From: Bristol, PA
Registered: 2008-11-04
Posts: 46
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

I would love to make a web browser, I've been researching it a lot for the past few weeks. I didn't think of a piecemeal kind of solution like you did. I don't know if that would be the best solution, but it is something interesting to think about.

The big thing that was killing me was switching between vim and opera, and wishing opera had vim keybindings. Then I discovered vimperator and a similar functionality for opera, so I'm feeling a little better about the browser thing.

http://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=52695

Still, I spend so much time in a web browser, I'm really getting motivated to check out all of the alternatives and maybe get involved in a browser project.

Designing a full-featured web browser is a big job, it's kind of intimidating ...

Last edited by pinchyfingers (2009-03-13 21:01:12)

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#3 2009-03-13 21:46:11

csstaub
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From: Switzerland
Registered: 2009-02-09
Posts: 37

Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

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#4 2009-03-13 22:04:02

&#32 Greg
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Registered: 2009-02-08
Posts: 80

Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

csstaub wrote:

For use as a browser? Yeah, it flies. Pity it's not stable yet, and the add-ons seem to be a bit haphazard.

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#5 2009-03-14 10:44:39

Dieter@be
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From: Belgium
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

keyboard addict that I am, navigating the web without a mouse would not be fun, with all those links all over all web pages.
Also, to display pages reasonably well you pretty much need pixel precision, and for that you need Xorg.

Though I do agree that lightweightness, and especially adhering to unix philosophy would be very important (eg ini-based config file, no built-in download manager, just configure it to launch wget/rtorrent/custom script, using dmenu or something for selecting bookmarks/tags, etc)


< Daenyth> and he works prolifically
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#6 2009-03-14 10:59:46

GGLucas
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From: The Netherlands
Registered: 2008-03-13
Posts: 113
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

Dieter@be wrote:

keyboard addict that I am, navigating the web without a mouse would not be fun, with all those links all over all web pages.

You'd be surprised, vimperator does this very, very well, and I have absolutely no quirps with using just the keyboard for browsing. The only possible scenario where a mouse would be faster, that I can think of, would be if you need to click a lot of adjacent links in rapid succession, but that rarely happens.

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#7 2009-03-14 13:03:40

finferflu
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From: Manchester, UK
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

I think the problem lays in the page layout, and in the fact that we call web-pages, in fact, "pages".
The problem lays in the design, in the page paradigm. I think in computing it is wrong to try to reproduce what is there in the "material" world. And I think we should go back to "text" rather than "page" Dealing with text is much more flexible than dealing with a page. You could use such text to do all sorts of things, and it surely could be keyboard driven (a mouse for me is the paradigm for the human finger, or hand, so that's wrong too). This way one should not bother with page layout anymore, and a web-page would merely be a collection of information to be processed by whatever application. No more web browsers, no more "one-application-does-everything", and we could finally go back to the Unix spirit...

Now, how to put that into practice? That's the real question.


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#8 2009-03-14 13:57:02

Dieter@be
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From: Belgium
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

finferflu wrote:

I think the problem lays in the page layout, and in the fact that we call web-pages, in fact, "pages".
The problem lays in the design, in the page paradigm. I think in computing it is wrong to try to reproduce what is there in the "material" world. And I think we should go back to "text" rather than "page" Dealing with text is much more flexible than dealing with a page. You could use such text to do all sorts of things, and it surely could be keyboard driven (a mouse for me is the paradigm for the human finger, or hand, so that's wrong too). This way one should not bother with page layout anymore, and a web-page would merely be a collection of information to be processed by whatever application. No more web browsers, no more "one-application-does-everything", and we could finally go back to the Unix spirit...

Now, how to put that into practice? That's the real question.

Hmm I don't really understand.  Even when you look at a "chunk of text", of say 30 lines. In those 30 lines different subjects/aspects/points/.. are explained, so in various places in the text you may want to reference other content, because it's relevant for that specific word or phrase.  I think that's the problem.  We just want to reference other things when we talk about things.

Hmm...
It wouldn't be clean to not put any links in the text itself but keep the links at the end or something. 
But what may be a very simple yet effective solution would be to number each link.  So if while reading so you see a link you want to open, you could just type it's corresponding number.


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#9 2009-03-14 14:01:10

finferflu
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

If you were to use text only, you could easily reference only the chunk of text you wanted to, without linking a whole web-page. That would allow for your browser application to display the linked text in a more convenient way, i.e. a side box, or a expandable box, finally obviating to the hassle of opening a new page somewhere.


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#10 2009-03-14 15:02:25

Ranguvar
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

I like your idea, finferflu smile Personally, I think the web browser itself is an enormous breach of Unix design philosophy, and is a hack around apps that have crappy built-in networking. I mean, Google's really pushing the browser as pretty much an OS, right? Cloud computing? That's OK, but IMO the OS should be the OS, and the OS should be tied more to the Internet. I mean movie players that can go on YouTube, PDF/PS viewers that can look through Google Books, etc. Obviously it's easier to just stuff it all into a single app (browser) but IMO that's not a good idea. You make the browser into the OS, and then it's why couldn't you just convert the OS into a browser instead of making it an extra layer only for abstracting hardware?

I haven't given the above a ton of thought, but meh.

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#11 2009-03-14 15:38:23

Dieter@be
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From: Belgium
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

finferflu wrote:

If you were to use text only, you could easily reference only the chunk of text you wanted to, without linking a whole web-page. That would allow for your browser application to display the linked text in a more convenient way, i.e. a side box, or a expandable box, finally obviating to the hassle of opening a new page somewhere.

But still, what if you have one page of text, with 20 references to "other things", you can't display all that extra content in a side box/expandable box at once. you can maybe hide it and show it on the users request.  But then the problem is again, what's a good user interface to let a user "pick something" out of various things displayed at various points in a text.


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#12 2009-03-14 15:44:00

finferflu
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From: Manchester, UK
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

You could add a sort of line reader: while scrolling down, you have a cursor on the current line. How many links can a line have? If that wasn't enough, you could add a column/sentence reader (and set the link box to display only a defined number of links a time, depending on the cursor position), which could come handy for other things too, like selection of text.

With software, we are expanding in so many directions, but nobody has come with a simple and functional GUI to comfortably use a computer. We are stuck with a 20 years old interface, decorated with bling and flashy effects.


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#13 2009-03-14 16:03:55

Dieter@be
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From: Belgium
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

finferflu wrote:

You could add a sort of line reader: while scrolling down, you have a cursor on the current line. How many links can a line have? If that wasn't enough, you could add a column/sentence reader (and set the link box to display only a defined number of links a time, depending on the cursor position), which could come handy for other things too, like selection of text.

Hmm yeah, that would be a reasonable approach, though it does require quite some effort to move the cursor from line to line. I still like my "number links and let user type number" approach.


< Daenyth> and he works prolifically
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#14 2009-03-14 17:17:46

peets
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

pacman -S surfraw

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#15 2009-03-14 17:47:38

finferflu
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From: Manchester, UK
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

peets wrote:

pacman -S surfraw

You still need a web browser to see the results! hmm


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"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." -- A. de Saint-Exupery

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#16 2009-03-14 18:04:11

freakcode
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From: São Paulo - Brazil
Registered: 2007-11-03
Posts: 410
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

Web pages are eletronic paper. That's what's wrong.

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#17 2009-03-14 21:47:41

EVRAMP
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From: Czech Republic
Registered: 2008-10-03
Posts: 173
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

I suggest trying midori browser (pacman -S midori).

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#18 2009-03-14 22:23:48

Ranguvar
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From: Our collective subconscious
Registered: 2008-08-12
Posts: 2,515
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

finferflu wrote:

With software, we are expanding in so many directions, but nobody has come with a simple and functional GUI to comfortably use a computer. We are stuck with a 20 years old interface, decorated with bling and flashy effects.

Agreed. WIMP is dead. Check out Plan 9's interface -- not radically different, but still nice.

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#19 2009-03-18 19:14:43

stream303
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Registered: 2009-03-18
Posts: 23

Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

Keep an eye on the Dillo 2.x series.

It now uses the FLTK2 toolkit, has much better support for modern fonts, and is just about to release 2.1 with CSS2 support.  (Thanks to the user who contributed the new dillo 2.0 btw.  It was a surprise to be able to just use pacman -S dillo to get the latest)

Yes, it has been around for a long time, but I think that this might be along the lines of what the original poster was looking for - a very *nix-like way of doing one thing and doing it well - that is, display HTML and now the upcoming CSS2 stylesheet support with 2.1.  No frames, and cookies are managed manually if you need them.

Tip: change the small font size to something more reasonable in your .dillorc

It is kind of a shock going from some huge browser to dillo at first - but when you look at it from a classic *nix standpoint, it really grows on you if all you need is html and css2.  Rather than being retro, I view it as adhering to the original lines of thought on what a browser should do.

Ok, so perhaps you may not do any online banking with it, flash and multimedia and whatnot.  But it just might be what you are looking for especially now with the renewed development efforts.  Check out the mailing lists and visit the project page if interested:

http://www.dillo.org

Last edited by stream303 (2009-03-18 19:16:23)

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#20 2009-03-18 19:54:03

initbox
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Registered: 2008-09-27
Posts: 168

Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

As long as it has Vim keybindings.

Seriously. Make a browser from the ground up that utilizes Vim-style.

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#21 2009-03-19 02:20:32

pinchyfingers
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From: Bristol, PA
Registered: 2008-11-04
Posts: 46
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

@initbox: that is what I am all about.

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#22 2009-03-19 07:13:47

dusanx
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Registered: 2008-11-28
Posts: 132

Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

Best I could find (not very much lightweight since it it based on XULRunner) is conkeror. I am using it all the time. Takes some customization before I can use it easily but it's very light with interface and you can use mouse or keyboard only.


Gnome -> Openbox -> Awesome -> XMonad -> dwm .
http://github.com/dusanx/uzbl/

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#23 2009-03-19 17:34:33

pharcyde
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From: Connecticut
Registered: 2009-03-13
Posts: 88

Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

initbox wrote:

As long as it has Vim keybindings.

Seriously. Make a browser from the ground up that utilizes Vim-style.

I like Vimperator for Firefox, https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4891

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#24 2009-03-19 19:15:44

foxbunny
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From: Serbia
Registered: 2006-10-31
Posts: 759
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Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

Ah the Vimperator, I enjoy it very much. But to go further than that - to turn the clock and make browsers that only display text... I think that would make surfing a painful experience with HTML coding that's going on right now on the Web. The coding standards aren't exactly high these days. You see a lot of half-arsed web "designers" waving Dreamweaver at the Web, making it one of the most inhospitable places for browsers like lynx. I've tried using lynx for a few days once, and some websites were simply not cooperating. I still test my layouts in lynx to see if my sites can be used in text-only world. But that's nothing like a standard among most developers I know.

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#25 2009-03-19 19:36:55

initbox
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Registered: 2008-09-27
Posts: 168

Re: Arch Philosophy/Structure Applied to a Browser

pharcyde wrote:
initbox wrote:

As long as it has Vim keybindings.

Seriously. Make a browser from the ground up that utilizes Vim-style.

I like Vimperator for Firefox, https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4891

I like it too.

But it's just an addon for Firefox. It'd be way better if we had a browser built from the ground up with Vi(m) in mind.

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