I’ve never really been able to grok firefox. It’s just been too bulky and heavy to use. Opera was somewhat better but seemed too alien and contained vast amounts of useless crap. Links is awesome but not really state-of-the-art when it comes to all this fancy web 2.0 stuff. The one browser I’ve always enjoyed using is konqueror. Rather than listing all the things I find wrong about other browsers, I though I’d take a look at the features that really makes konqueror stand out. Not big features but the small areas that just helps to make everything work smoother.
NB: I’m still using konqueror 3.5 and I haven’t got a clue what parts, if any, hasn’t made it into konqueror 4. Feel free to elaborate in a comment if you know something about it. It will at least let me know if I’ll lose any features when I switch.
And just for the record, I use firefox at work several hours each week so I do have my reasons for calling it a crappy browser. Much of this is really based on things that firefox won’t do unlike what I wrote just before. But it’s features you don’t really miss until you know they’re not there.
I guess some of this can be implemented in other browser through their extension systems. But I don’t like installing things outside my package manager and I like the fact that I don’t have to carry 10 extensions with me and install them on other people’s computers just to make their browser usable for me.
- Form awesomeness
- Web shortcuts
Kioslaves aren’t really konqueror-specific, but konqueror makes good use of them. Basically, kioslaves binds a protocol spec (http://, sftp://) to a protocol handler. I don’t know how many different protocols firefox or opera handles, but I’m fairly sure konqueror does more. This sort of ties into file-management, which is something other browsers doesn’t do at all (and for a good reason). And while I tend to do all file-management from a shell, these kioslaves lets me do some quite awesome things. Say you want to move a group of files from machine A to machine B through sftp (or rsync, scp or whatever). You could obviously ssh to machine A and then do your thing, but you could also just split a tab in two panes, sftp to machine A in one pane and to machine B in another pane and move things between the panes transparently. This goes for any kind of kioslave of course, so if you only have ftp (eww) access to machine A, that’s no problem. Just ftp to A from one pane and sftp to B from the other and you’re all set.
There are other kinds of kioslaves too, like man:// which provides access to man-pages. I’ve never used that much, but audiocd:// provides access to an audiocd in your drive, letting you rip files by copying them from a directory on the audio cd onto your harddrive (or to sftp://B maybe).
There is a large number of kioslaves giving you transparent access to everything from tarballs to subversion repositories.
A part of HTML-forms is the <input type=’file’ />-one. It allows you to upload a file with an HTML form. Usually, you use the browse-button next to it and find whatever file you want to upload. But what if said file is somewhere on the interwebs, rather than on your local machine? You will have to download it first and then upload the downloaded file. This isn’t any different in Konqueror compared to any other browser, but konqueror allows you to specify a URL in the field and Konqueror then parses said URL, downloads the file to some temporary place and sends it along with the form. In other words, Konqueror performs the superflous step for you. You can use HTTP-urls in the field, but thanks to the aforementioned kioslaves you can actually use any kind of URL Konqueror normally understands. This a good example of a very small feature in terms of how often you use it, but it saves time, trouble and mouseclicks and makes the overall experience a lot nicer.
KParts (Kparts or however it’s capitalised) again veer off into a sort-of-but-not-really different area. KParts allows other KDE applications (those that export a KPart) to be put “into” Konqueror. This instantly turns Konqueror into a PDF-reader, a text-editor (vim really ought to export a KPart) and a dozen of other things. What’s interesting, when it comes to browsing, is that it lets you view PDF-files, text-files or whatever a webserver might throw at you in the same window you use for browsing. I use awesome as my window-manager, and I have a tab dedicated to Konqueror where all windows are maximised. So being able to open a PDF-file from a website in a new browser tab, rather than a new window, fits very well into the overall scheme. Oh, and having a KPart for handling textfiles also gives me proper syntax highlighting. In your face, firefox!
KParts aren’t just for PDF-files and textfiles. It also gives Konqueror good capabilities for manipulating displayed images, adjusting colour or brightnesss, zoom, rotate and just about anything else you might need to display the image exactly how you want or need to. I particularly enjoy this on my old, very dark CRT-monitor.
This is perhaps one of the most overlooked features of Konqueror. At the same time, it’s probably the one that has saved me most time and irritation. Web shortcuts turns a “prefix:stuff” URL into a proper URL depending on which prefix you use. Maybe an example is in place here.
I’m looking at some webpage when I come across the term ‘helicoid’. Wondering what exactly that is, I hit Ctrl-t to open a new tab, type “wp:helicoid” and hit enter. Konqueror then expands that into http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=helicoid&go=Go which instantly redirects me to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicoid which is where I really want to go. How many keystrokes/mouse clicks did I save there? I don’t know, but over time it adds up to a lot.
By default, my Konqueror does a Google (I’m feeling lucky) search on whatever I type into the address bar if it doesn’t parse. Web shortcuts then allow me to type “gg:something” to get an ordinary google search instead. This beats using a special search bar by a huge margin, simply because I know the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl-l) for clearing and focusing the address bar. Want to do a google image search instead? “ggi:” is your friend. Want to do a more specific google search? “gg:konqueror site:kde.org” is your friend. Want a calculator? “gg:2+2″ is your friend. Want a currency calculator? “gg:5000 JPY in DKK” is your friend. Want to search cpan? “cpan:Data::Dumper” is your friend. Need to look up a word? “wt:crap” or “ths:crap” or one of the other web shortcuts pointing to different dictionaries is your friend(s). Konqueror comes with a craptic megaton of web shortcuts and you can easily add your own as well.
There’s a whole slew of other things I tend to miss whenever I use other browsers. Most of these are equally small and not very interesting in themselves, but added together they make using a browser (and a GUI-one at that) something that doesn’t make me want to cut both my hands off. I have yet to come across a single feature from other browsers I miss in Konqueror.
And by the way… as said I use awesome, rather than KDE and right now, a Konqueror instance with 23 tabs uses exactly…
PID USER PR NI VIRT RES SHR S %CPU %MEM TIME+ COMMAND 5856 arkanoid 20 0 146m 110m 30m S 3 10.9 21:27.52 konqueror 15865 arkanoid 20 0 201m 90m 25m S 4 9.0 1:03.86 firefox-bin
… not a lot of memory. The firefox-session was launched because I needed to see whether the form-awesomeness feature worked in firefox (it didn’t). It has four tabs opened and all four websites are also presently open in konqueror (along with the 19 other sites). I never quite understood why people consider KDE a huge memory hog.