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Nyxt browser and other handy TUI apps

September 10, 2021

When switching to i3, as discussed in my previous post, I was particularly interested in getting a more comfortable keyboard-centric user experience. This led me to drop or look for alternatives to the few Gnome applications I used to use (Evince, Nautilus, Firefox). Below is a quick summary of what I’ve found. (And yes I know that everything is already available under Emacs with eww, pdf-tools, dired and native image support in GUI version of Emacs.)

Nyxt browser

I really like the design philosophy of Nyxt, and you will certainly acknowledge, especially if you have some experience with keyboard-driven or TUI web browser, that the UI is beautiful. Moreover, it is designed with Emacs and Vim users in mind, since you can select the keybindings set you like best. I recommend reading the manual before using Nyxt for longer web sessions; it’s even available in Lisp.

Several keyboard-driven web browsers, like Qutebrowser, vimb, or Conkeror (which I heard about a few years ago via Technomancy), notwithstanding Firefox plugins that can be used to emulate Vim motions like Vimperator or Tridactyl. I tried Tridactyl a few weeks but I was overall not very satisfied with the way it works. Above all, the only features I really want is that infamous easy motion selector (which usually goes by the shortcut F or f) and a quick search bar using /. Firefox native search tools are not really helpful: Ctrl+F open a small dialog box at the bottom of the page, and it is hard to close without using the mouse once you start navigating around matched words in the HTML page. And there’s a quick lookup function available via / but I never understood how it really works.

Nyxt gives me all what I need : gg and G to go to the bottom or the top of the page, F to emulate easy motion, and d to delete buffer(s). The history tree is great, although I didn’t check how usable it is for longer web crawling sessions. I didn’t really customize the UI, but it seems to be pretty easy, especially if you’re versed into Emacs config file.

See also: visurf, a web browser based on NetSurf.

Zathura viewer

I was looking for a quick PDF viewer, and I came across Zathura on Big Pile of Vim-like. I installed it right away, along with associated plugin to read PDF, DJVU and PS documents. It’s rare to see an application allowing to read both PDF and DJVU format. Some textbooks are still available in that old format, and I will no longer have to convert them to PDF beforehand. The UI is really minimalist, and this is mostly Vim-centric: J and K are used to go to the next or previous page, gg and G jump to the first or last page, C-o and C-i to navigate the jump list, etc. More keyboard shortcuts are documented here. If you don’t like the dark background, you can use the color you want by editing the config file $HOME/.config/zathura/zathurarc. I have these settings, for example:

set default-bg "#fffff8"
set statusbar-bg "#4c566a"
set statusbar-fg "#e5e9f0"

I particularly like the dual view (d) and the index (<tab>), as well as the easy zooming facilities (+ and -).

With the aid of a few add-ons (available via apt), Zathura can also become your default EPUB and DJVU browser. I used xdg-mime default zathura.desktop application/pdf to make it mine.

Feh image viewer

As suggested on the i3 website, feh can be used to set a wallpaper for your desktop. You may not enjoy it much in tiling mode, but at least you can choose a picture to your liking. Besides, feh can be used as a simple image viewer, for those who don’t like ImageMagick display application. It works smoothly, and again hitting the q key simply close the app, like Zathura. Above all, you can simply browse a whole directory, and the arrow keys help to switch to the previous/next (left/right) picture or to zoom in (up) and out (down). More information is available in the man page.

Ranger file manager

I don’t use a file manager in Neovim other than the builtin Netrw. I mapped the - key to browse the current directory, and that’s fine. However, sometimes I need more: a directory browser, with preview available on demand. That’s all what we get when we install ranger. It is powerful, really. You use the arrow keys (yes, I like the arrow keys!) to navigate your directories, and you use some magic combo like zi or zp to display images or files online (image previewing doesn’t work in Tmux, though). And you can :rename or :move files using the command mode.

unix app

See Also

» Neomutt » Timeshift for system backup » Now using i3wm as a window manager » Ubuntu on a MacBook Pro » My Tmux in 2021