If you’re on Linux and in need of a web browser that is modern and light-weight, avoid Firefox and head straight for the Surf browser. It’s a simple and easy to use Webkit browser with absolutely no frills, add-ons, syncing features, favorites or anything like that. Instead, what it offers is a quick, responsive web experience.
SPOILER ALERT: Scroll down and watch the video tutorial at the end of this article.
Install Surf Browser
Using Surf browser is different compared to a lot of other browsers on Linux, so it’s not for beginners. Still, if you’re willing to look past the slight learning curve, it offers up a fast, efficient browsing experience that’s hard to pass up.
Note: Surf can work anywhere, but if you’d like to experience things like tabbed browsing, and browsing the web without having to repeatedly launch new windows, we recommend using the i3 window manager.
sudo apt install surf
sudo apt-get install surf
sudo pacman -S surf
sudo dnf install surf -y
sudo zypper in surf
Installing Surf browser on a Linux distribution that doesn’t have official support isn’t difficult, as the developers make a downloadable Tar archive available on the web. To get this archive, ensure that the “wget” downloading tool is installed, then open up a terminal and use it to download the latest version.
Note: compiling Surf from scratch requires the installation of the latest GTK and WebKit development tools for Linux. Refer to your Linux distribution’s manual for more information.
With the Surf Tar archive downloaded, it’s time to extract the files. To do this, use the tar command.
tar -xvzf surf-2.0.tar.gz
Next, move the terminal into the code folder, and start the building process.
sudo make clean install
Use Surf Browser
The Surf browser is very basic, and all navigation is done with command-line arguments. Going this route instead of creating a cumbersome UI has a lot of advantages. The first major advantage is that it allows users to create custom “web-apps,” without having to deal with custom tools. Additionally, it makes Surf great for a full-screen web experience.
Using Surf works as follows. To launch a website, open up a terminal and do:
For best results, we recommend making use of the Alt + F2 command feature that many Linux desktop environments have. This will allow users to launch their favorite websites in the Surf browser, without needing to have a terminal window always open.
Tabbed Browsing In Surf
The main draw to Surf is that there are no browser controls to manage the UI. This means that users can easily get to the content they want on the web without dealing with annoying interfaces. For as great a feature as this is, some people dislike it. Especially when it means you cannot open multiple pages in “tabs”.
Adding a “tabbed interface” to the Surf app is actually quite easy, and it starts by installing the Tabbed application.
sudo apt install tabbed
sudo apt-get install tabbed
sudo pacman -S tabbed
sudo dnf install tabbed -y
Sadly, there is no native SUSE package for Tabbed. If you’re in need of it, you’ll have to download and build it manually.
With the Tabbed app installed, Surf now has the ability to use “tabs”. In a terminal, run the following command:
tabbed surf -e website.com
Navigating through tabs in the Surf browser is different from other web browsers as it doesn’t support the mouse. Instead, the keyboard is used.
To open up a new tab in Surf, press Ctrl + Shift + Enter.
Need to quickly move between tabs? Press Ctrl + 1 – 9.
Close browser tabs in Surf with Ctrl – Q, and swap between the two most recent tabs by pressing Ctrl + Tab.
Surf’s ability to instantly go to a website with a single command is quite useful. However, if you’ve got a homepage you’d prefer that Surf starts out at, a custom script is required to set it.
In the terminal, create a new script file with the touch command.
Next, use echo to add the Shebang to the script. Don’t skip this part! Without a Shebang, your Linux PC won’t understand the script file!
echo '!#/bin/bash' >> surf-homepage
With the Shebang set up, it’s time to add the launch command. Be sure to change “website.com” with your homepage’s URL.
echo 'tabbed surf -e website.com' >> surf-homepage
Update the permission of the script with chmod, then use the mv command to add it to /usr/bin.
sudo chmod +x surf-homepage sudo mv surf-homepage /usr/bin
Launch your homepage at any time via terminal (or Alt + F2) with: