The Conkeror Web Browser Conquers Small Screens

Small screen? Crummy touchpad? Not a problem for Conkeror.
Using Conkeror's Buffers

Firefox uses tabs to keep separate Web pages in the same browser; Conkeror uses buffers to do the same thing. To open a link in a new buffer, press C-u f and select the link using the link-following instructions above. For example, say you're back on the page with the foo, bar and baz links. To open baz in a new window, press C-u f and type baz. Press C-u before any command that opens a Web page to load that page in a new buffer. For example, C-u g goes to a URL or loads a search result page in a new buffer, and C-u C-h i loads the start page in a new buffer. Also, links that try to open a new window will be opened in a new buffer.

Return to the previous buffer by pressing M-p (Alt-p on PCs and Option-p on Macs); advance to the next buffer by pressing M-n. Press C-x b to display a list of open buffers (Figure 3). Each buffer in the list has a name—its URL plus its title. Select a buffer name from the list using the keyboard arrow keys or narrow the list by typing part of a buffer's name. Press Enter at any time to show the selected buffer.

Figure 3. The Buffer List

Close a buffer—in Conkeror's terminology, kill a buffer—by pressing C-x k to display the list of buffers. Select a buffer the same way you did above, and press Enter to kill it. Conkeror selects the current buffer by default, so you can kill it quickly by pressing C-x k <Enter>. When you close the last buffer, Conkeror exits. Close Conkeror and all its buffers automatically by pressing C-x C-c.

Some Other Keybindings

Power users of any Web browser often edit the URL to go to a different part of the Web site they're visiting. Press C-x C-v to edit the current URL in Conkeror. Combine this with C-u to open the modified URL in a new buffer: C-u C-x C-v.

Bookmarking a URL in Conkeror lets you return to it using Tab completion when you change URLs. Press b to bookmark the current URL, choose a name for the bookmark (Conkeror fills in the page title by default), and press Enter. Press g to go to a new URL, type in a few letters from either the bookmark title or the bookmark URL, and press Tab. Conkeror shows you a list of bookmarks that match the letters you typed; use the keyboard arrow keys to select a bookmark and press Enter to go to it.

Sometimes when you try bookmarking a page, Conkeror asks you to choose a frame. It places a number next to each frame on the page and lets you choose a frame by entering its number. If you want to bookmark the URL containing all the frames, enter the number 0.

Access all of Conkeror's commands—even those that aren't bound to a keybinding—by pressing M-x, typing the command name and pressing Enter. Press Tab to complete any command name; for example, press M-x, type print, and press Tab to make Conkeror select the print-buffer command. If you press M-x and Tab without typing anything, Conkeror lists all of its commands. I suggest you review this list to get an idea of everything Conkeror can do.

Conkeror's Modes

Conkeror includes special scripts, called modes, that change its behavior on specific sites—for example, the simple XKCD mode for the comic-strip site. When you visit in Firefox, it displays the comic's title when you move your mouse over the image. When you visit in Conkeror, it activates XKCD mode (Figure 4) and displays the title below the image in a special font—you don't need to move your mouse over the image.

Figure 4. XKCD Mode in Action

The Gmail mode redefines many of Conkeror's default keybindings so that you can use the default Gmail keybindings. Other modes include a Google Maps mode, a Reddit mode and a YouTube mode.

When you visit a site that has a mode, for example Google Maps, Conkeror loads that site's mode. When you leave the site, Conkeror automatically unloads the mode. You can try using modes on other sites by loading the mode's command through the M-x menu. For example: M-x xkcd-mode. However, most modes don't make sense on alternative sites.

Advanced Configuration, Advanced Features

Firefox has a pretty Preferences configuration screen. Conkeror doesn't. But, you can change any browser setting in Conkeror on the about:config page. Press g, type about:config, and press Enter to go to the page and double-click the settings you want to change. Conkeror shows changed settings in bold. Use the search bar that appears on the top of the page to find specific settings quickly. For example, enter proxy to find all the proxy settings.

Although you can find and change settings easily in about:config, some users prefer a dynamic Emacs-style configuration file. This file can change about:config settings, define keybindings, add new commands, load external modules and define events using JavaScript. You can turn any file into a Conkeror configuration file, but the file must exist before you try using it. For example, add the following line to the file .conkeror.rc to prevent Conkeror from displaying a warning message before showing the about:config page:

user_pref("general.warnOnAboutConfig", false);

After creating the configuration file, you must tell Conkeror where to find it. Go to the Conkeror start page by pressing C-h i, scroll to the Conkeror RC File section, and enter the full pathname of the configuration file in the text box. For example, I entered the following text: /home/harding/.conkeror.rc. Press the Set RC File button. You need to do this only once.

Just below the Set RC File button, Conkeror lists several example directives for you to put in your configuration file. For instance, one line tells Conkeror how to use a custom search engine when you press g. You also can add new commands and new keybindings to Conkeror. For more examples, follow the Conkeror Wiki link in the Resources section of this article.

The next section tells you how to use Firefox extensions in Conkeror, but some Firefox extensions don't want to work with a browser that isn't named Firefox. Most Firefox extensions work in Conkeror if you tell the extension you're really using Firefox. I suggest you put the following line in your configuration file to make Conkeror ignore compatibility problems:

user_pref("extensions.checkCompatibility", false);



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If you want a variation on

Anonymous's picture

If you want a variation on Conkeror, you can also try Vonkeror, which is a forked project of Conkeror with many different features, including gopher supporting.

vi keybindings

CyberBob's picture

Conkeror is emacs-ified by default. But, if you are a vi user you can just change the keybindings. I did, and now use Conkeror with vi-like j/k keybindings for scrolling up and down, and other such customizations. I mention this option as I find that it's a smaller/more streamlined solution than using Vimperator with Firefox.

Conkeror is also available on Arch

Matt's picture

I second the recommendation of vimperator if you are a vi user. It gets rid of the menu bars in Firefox and is driven entirely from the keyboard.

New name!!!

Anonymous's picture

This sounds great. Any idea how well it works on eee PCs? I'll try it out later with the netbook desktop. BUT, get a new name! Why confuse this with Konqueror, when it's a Firefox derivative? That doesn't make sense. Develop a name better suited to the product.

I've been looking for something like this

Anonymous's picture

Very interesting, I have kinda been looking for a better browser for my AAO, now I have found one. What's more is that it supports Windows, too (I dual-boot, yes shame on me, though windows only has like a 30GB partition and Linux has closer to 60GB).

Get a different name.

Jacob's picture

If it's good - why be lazy?

Get a decent name - no need for kanckeroar.

Good thing it doesn't sound

Anonymous's picture

Good thing it doesn't sound like Konqueror. We wouldn't want people to be confused...


x33a's picture

David, since you are a vi user, you should definitely check out vimperator. it's an add on for firefox, and it also lets us browse the web using the keyboard only.