xxxterm: Keyboard based, Minimalist Web Browser for Ubuntu Linux

“xxxterm” is a bloody simple (a.k.a; “minimalist” ;-)), Webkit engine based, web browser for the GNU/Linux platform. Though it supports few basic mouse related functions (scrolling, copy/paste text content, right click and save images, following links on pages etc), but it’s primarily a keyboard based web browser, because almost all of its functions are assigned to keyboard shortcuts.

Because of that, “xxxterm” might not be a web browser that suits everyone. If you’re a power user, who’s looking for a browser that you can control without using the mouse that much, then “xxxterm” is worth trying.

But please be aware that, it has a single (major) annoying drawback, though I looked everywhere for an answer, still haven’t found one, that is, it doesn’t let you save web pages!.


Another one worth mentioning is that, it doesn’t seem to work properly with Google and their services (such as with Gmail, Adsense etc) but worked with other Yahoo mail and other services without any issues.

On the bright side, it opens fast and doesn’t consume a lot of your system resources (parley ;-)).

Main features …

*. Has two built in color themes. If you don’t like the default White one then you can use the bit darker one (enabled/disabled with the keyboard shortcut, “Ctrl” + “s”).

*. The built in web-search-box is disabled by default. But you can, somewhat easily, fix that (more at the end).

*. Few of its main shortcuts to mention:

F1: Opens the manual.

F5: Reloads the page.

F6: Focus (selects) on the “address bar”.

F7 : Selects the “search-box”.

F11 : Opens a new tab.

F12 : Lets you enter a URL and opens a tab on top of the current one.

/ : “search” within the content of the current web page.

Alt” + “h“: Opens the “history”.

Alt” + “d“: Opens the “downloads” window.

Ctrl” + “Left-Arrow key/Right-Arrow key” : For switching between tabs.

Ctrl” + “s” : Shows the page source.

Ctrl” + “+” : Zoom in.

Ctrl” + “--” : Zoom out.

Ctrl” + “q” : Exit the browser (if you don’t wanna use the mouse :D).

*. “Following” links on a web page is also extremely easy (using the Keyboard of course):

After opening a page, press the “f” key, and “xxxterm” should highlight all the links (including a number assigned for the each link, as shown below).

To open a particular link, just press its number! (for instance, if I wanted to open the URL number “2”, then I’ll simply press the number “2” key on my keyboard).


These are again, few of its features to mention.

If you wanna give it a go, then you can install “xxxterm” in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin and 12.10 Quantal Quetzal (it’s a relatively new browser, perhaps because of that, it doesn’t seem to have packages for other versions of Ubuntu though) by simply entering the below command in your Terminal window.

sudo apt-get install xxxterm

Then you should be able to search for “xxxterm” in Unity’s Dash for locating it.

Fixing the “search-box” to use with “Google” ….

As mentioned above, by default, though there’s a “search-box” present, but it doesn’t do anything. But you can use its configuration file and enable your preferred search engine (Google, Yahoo etc), so whenever you search for something in that box, it’ll actually be searched.

1. First, let’s copy the configuration file (compressed) to your “Home” folder.

For that, enter the below command in your Terminal window (make sure to replace “gayan” with your user name).

cp /usr/share/doc/xxxterm/examples/xxxterm.conf.gz /home/gayan

2. Now enter the below command to extract the configuration file inside of that archive.

gzip -d xxxterm.conf.gz

3. Now, enter the below command to open it using your “text” editor.

gedit xxxterm.conf

4. This should open up a window similar to the below one. Now press “ctrl” + “f” keys which should open up the “search” dialog. Then search for the term:


Or “yahoo” if you wanna use that instead …

5. Now, remove the two “#” marks before “Google” and “search_string” fields as shown in the below screenshot. Make sure to save the changes and then close the text editor.


6. Now, open your “Home” folder in Nautilus, find and select the file called “xxxterm.conf” that we just edited.

Then, press “F2” key to rename it, and then simply put a dot “.” before its name. So it’s new name should be:


That’s it. Now open “xxxterm” and enter something in the “search-box”, and it should search for that in Google!.

You can read its manual (has a lot other keyboard shortcuts) by using the below command in your Terminal window as well.

man xxxterm

You can enable/disable a lot of other settings using this configuration file too (such as enabling the “status-bar” by default for instance).

Right now, the Flash video function doesn’t work by default, and you have to manually configure that too. So because of those issues, I wouldn’t recommended this for newbies (then again, I don’t think “xxxterm” is really created for new users anyway).

But, if you’re an experienced user, who’s looking for a lightweight web browser that you can fully control through your keyboard with ease and okay with not having the ability to save web pages (which doesn’t make any sense btw) and Google’s services related issues, then “xxxterm” is a pretty decent browser :).

An RHCE, 'Linux' user with 14+ years of experience. Extreme lover of Linux and FOSS. He is passionate to test every Linux distribution & compare with the previous release to write in-depth articles to help the FOSS community.

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