28 July 2017

Dillo: like a bat out of hell

I love text browsers. My favourite ones are lynx and elinks.
I love graphical browsers. My favourite ones are chromium and firefox.
I love browsers that somehow are in the middle like w3m-img or links2.

This is to say that I spend a lot of time surfing the web in different ways depending on what I need to achieve or the hardware I am using at the moment. It is not the same being connected to a powerful remote server or connected using an eeepc of 512mb of ram.

So instead of saying that I love them, it would be more accurate to say that I make an extensive use of all kinds of web browsers.

Among the graphical browsers I used to like was midori, it allowed me to do almost anything I could do with chromium but it needed less resources which was fine. The problem I have always had with midori is that I have often have to face one or other bug. In my eeepc everytime I scrolled down it opened a new tab and switched to it (oh man so annoying).

But thank god I discovered dillo. It is an incredibly fast graphical web browser that works like a charm in all my machines, especially in my less powerful ones, like the eeepc or any other old laptop/desktop machines.

Dillo has a certain number of limitations, that is true. It does not interpret javascript and therefore you lose a bit of some sites functionality. But this is a trade-off I am willing to accept.

Dillo has a number of configuration files under ~/.dillo that once tweaked will make your life way better. This is a list of the files you need to have in there:

* dillorc This is the actual config file. You can set many options here like the homepage, the colours you like...

* domainrc Dillo cross-domain request rules file. In this file you can configure which sites are allowed to retrieve data from third party domains.

* bm.txt The bookmarks file. You can add any bookmarks from the browser using its graphical interface, however the syntax is very easy and it is quicker to add your bookmarks directly to this file. For example:

:s1: Super cool sites
s1 chalsattack
s1 chals' blog

* cookiesrc How to handle cookies. The syntax is also plain easy.

Note: Accepting cookies will create an additional cookies.txt file in ~/.dillo

Once everything is in place prepare to surf at full speed, be careful, you might get a ticket for speeding ;)

Now you can visit most sites on the web, check your mail and do almost anything you can do with other browsers. But you will not be able to for example watch videos or visit sites that exclusively depend on javascript.

Conclusion: The version which was active from 2015 and 2016 made an extensive use of javascript, since I couldn't visit it with dillo, I re-wrote the site from scratch as you can read here

Next installment: a screenshot of dillo in action.