I've had enough of QtWebEngine | Hund

Hund

I've had enough of QtWebEngine

Friday, July 30, 2021

I’ve been using the web browser qutebrowser for several years now. It has been my favorite web browser since the very first day when tried it. I like the minimal user interface and I love that it’s 100% keyboard driven.

Unfortunately, after more than 5 years with qutebrowser, I’m back with Firefox. I don’t know if it’s temporary or not. The reason for it is primarily due to the elephant in the room; QtWebEngine.

What QtWebEngine is and why I used it to begin with

QtWebEngine is a web engine by The Qt Company (formerly known as Trolltech). QtWebEngine “integrates Chromium’s fast moving web capabilities into Qt”, but without including any binary files or any malware from Google.

It has never been my first-hand choice, but I was kinda forced to use it. When I first started using qutebrowser, it supported two web engines; QtWebEngine and QtWebKit. I choose QtWebKit without even thinking twice about it. Unfortunately, the support for QtWebKit was dropped a year later back in 2017. Apparently it was no longer being maintained upstreams.

I was then left with two options: Leaving qutebrowser or installing QtWebEngine. I decided to install QtWebEngine, but after about 4 years with it, I’m no longer having it.

What I don’t like about QtWebEngine

Alternative web browsers

I ultimately decided to look for alternative web browsers that doesn’t use QtWebEngine. I tried Luakit and a few other niche Vim-like web browsers. And while they’re all alright, I felt too used to the ways how qutebrowser works after using it for so long. I also didn’t feel like I have the time or patience to start over with a new web browser from scratch.

Niche web browsers like qutebrowser and Luakit are just like any niche tiling window manager in that regard; they’re all designed around a specific philosophy. And while it’s possible to configure most to your liking, if you’re not fully committed to their philosophy, you’re going to constantly struggle in headwind.

My old friend Firefox

I then decided to give Firefox a second chance. I’m already using Firefox as my secondary web browser for websites that I don’t trust and/or just doesn’t work well with qutebrowser. While Firefox isn’t as sleek as qutebrowser, I can’t really be bothered with it. I guess I’m simply getting more pragmatic with age.

I also use a few security and/or quality of life addons with Firefox that technically makes it into a excellent web browser.

And I’m fully aware of the fact that Mozilla (the company behind Firefox) is far from perfect. I would rather use some more libre friendly fork of Firefox, but I haven’t really been bothered exploring that yet.

My Firefox addons

All descriptions are borrowed from the addons themselves.

These addons is something that I have actually missed with qutebrowser. It feels good having them with my default web browser again.

Vim-like keybindings in Firefox

I could never use a web browser that doesn’t have decent support for Vim-like keybindings. I used to think it was important to be able to use the keyboard for exactly everything, and that the UI had to be as minimal as possible. Today, I’m okay with using the mouse for things like changing the settings for any addon. As long as I don’t have to use the mouse when I browse any website.

I looked for an addon that adds Vim-like keybindings and I quickly found Vimium, which apparently is a popular addon for Chromium that’s now available for Firefox as well. It’s currently not on par with the two discountinued addons Vimperator and Pentadactyl (a fork of Vimperator), which is two addons that I used with Firefox prior to using qutebrowser, but that’s okay to be honest. Vimium works good enough for me today.

The future

I have no idea what the future looks like with regards to my choice of web browser. I still like qutebrowser, but I don’t think I’ll ever be bothered installing it again, as long as they’re using QtWebEngine. I also don’t know if Firefox is my final choice or I’ll find something that I like even more.

Feel free to recomend me any good web browser! It should preferably be libre software and available in the Gentoo repositories.

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