Conkeror Comes Unstuck

February 29th 17:36
by why

The surgery was a success. Conkeror has landed its separation manuever. Really, honestly, I wasn’t sure for a second.

Conkeror is a keyboard-driven browser. You navigate links with the keyboard. Select text with the keyboard. And you can add commands using JavaScript. Since its commands are loosely based on Emacs commands, you can combine key cuts in really fantastic ways.

  • Like: the command g takes you here.
  • Ctrl-u g opens this site in a new buffer (like a tab.)
  • f 12 opens link #12.
  • Thus, Ctrl-u f 12 opens link #12 in a new buffer.

Use Ctrl-h t to get briefed. And Ctrl-h b for the cheat codes.

Previously, Conkeror was a Firefox extension. Late last year the team detached from Firefox and started rebuilding the browser on top of Xulrunner. This seemed a perilous move at first, but it’s really energized the developers and has resulted in some great features. Such as the minibuffer, simpler bookmarks work with g, much improved link highlighting.

Installation is a bit of a trial. You just need to be sure you start with the specific Xulrunner distro mentioned on the wiki.

On Linux, after you get Xulrunner, it’s along the lines of:

git clone git://
cd conkeror
./ xulapp
sudo ./

And you’ll have /usr/local/bin/conkeror.

The new link following is just genius. Previously, links on the page were all numbered right when you hit a page. Some times this would blow the layout. (Such as the sidebar.) And a lot of times it would slow page loading. Really, it wasn’t until I was able to kill half of my custom link styling javascripts that I realized how nicely Conkeror was coming along.

Now, pages are loaded just as in Firefox. You hit n and it hovers a highlight over all links and form elements in view. The highlight doesn’t break any layouts. And, yeah, it’s doesn’t highlight the whole page. Just the stuff you can actually see.

So even if you’re at the bottom of the page, the link numbers aren’t in the hundreds.

If you’d rather not use numbers, you can also type the text of the link to follow. I type s and it limits the links to those with text containing that letter.

Okay, check out this script. This goes in the .conkerorrc.

  "Change the HTTP proxy port.",
  function (I) {
    var portnum;
      portnum = (yield$prompt = "Proxy port:")));
    I.minibuffer.message("port set to " + portnum);

See, you can use the minibuffer (the command line) as a prompt. In this script, I’m prompting for a port number. Using the"Proxy port:") line. And print a success with minibuffer.message.

There’s a similar method read_hinted_element_with_prompt that prompts for an element and you can type in the element’s text or pick its number off the page. Really, this browser needs a nice scripter’s guide once the git pull dries up.

Now begin the comments …



said on February 29th 19:17

I’ve been using Vimperator with FF3 beta and I’m in love with keyboard browsing. Definitely have to check this out.


said on March 1st 04:24

Konqueror also has the direct link navigation feature, it’s great if you don’t want to use the mouse. You press Ctrl once and each link is overlaid with a number or a letter, which you then can press to follow the link.


said on March 1st 06:25

I’ve also been using Vimperator, but not properly. I leave the address bar and menus around so that other people can actually borrow my browser if they need. The downside is that I still use a mix of Vimperator commands and normal firefox ones.


said on March 1st 14:41

i want to learn your true email to ask some queastions about “TRY RUBY” because is not work.


said on March 1st 14:43

i try to ruby on my browser but some problems ;

its freezed some times in the middle of tutorial.

but big problem is writing code because ;

my OS win xp and i.e.7.0 and my computer is ASUS A6vm notebook

and i cannot write " { [ ] } " symbols.

normally i can write them by "Alt-Gr " pressing as i wrote here or to ms word or to notepad . but it could not work in " try ruby " screen.

pls help me i stayed in the middle of tutorial

e- mail :


said on March 1st 17:00

I’m having loads of trouble installing this. It’s asking me about GRE’s after I’ve ran the register command. Blah. Do I need Firefox-3.0 for this or something?


said on March 1st 17:01

Tried it and … it works but the key bindings don’t. I can click on a link (hooray) but can’t use the keyboard to do anything.

My poor conkeror–so pretty on my MacBook and yet so in need of fixing.

I IRC’d to the conkeror channel and was told that I’m probably the first person to try this with ‘os x’. Hooray, I’m a pioneer!

This is the price one pays for playing with the shiny new toys–you have to fix stuff and learn what you’re doing.


said on March 1st 18:04

Yay conkeror! Looks like they’ve come a long way since I last checked. Having a Thinkpad pointer means rodent usage is less onerous, but now that Conk has come so far (and is based on Gecko 1.9, right?) it’s probably time to switch back.


said on March 1st 20:41

@hazal: get a decent browser & os

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