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Midori, I’m Back!

April 29, 2011

I have always been a fan of Midori, and I have been using it since before it became part of the XFCE project. It was always very quirky, but I stuck by it. Around the late 0.2.x versions the quirkiness was getting to me, and to scratch an itch I started playing around with different browsers, and eventually settled on chromium as my default browser. ( I had tried uzbl, surf, and all those amazing ‘suckless’ style projects, but they just didn’t work for me, personal preference)

It was faster than Midori, more stable, and, as annoying as this will sound, also worked with Google Docs (I was using it a lot to collaborate with group members on papers and such). There were also some very cool features that I grew to really enjoy and use a lot, such as the ‘Closed Tab History’.  However, chromium also had quirks with it, and what made me furious was it’s disrespect of my system settings (such as my .fonts.conf), there has also been a very frustrating error message appearing lately,

Bad or missing pref 'state' for extension 'hpibmhghjndideebpackbdlpncgkcppp'

I can’t remember what searching for it turned up (I’m sure I did), but this honestly scared me. An ‘extension’ with an obfuscated name was throwing an error. I was able to track this string down to a chromium configuration file and upon inspection realized the file was a load of unreadable XML gibberish.  GIBBERISH! I settled on a clean sweep: wiped my whole chromium directory, any and all related files and directories, did a reboot, reinspected, then started chromium up and began to reconfigure. Upon restarting chromium again, the error reappeared. The obfuscated string was back, but this time I was able to deceiver what it was: my theme.

My Theme! This was infuriating, why did theme information need an obfuscated name, and why did it need all that XML garbage around it! Looking through the rest of the configuration file yielded a lot more crap that I just didn’t understand, and seemed needlessly complicated. I do not know why I did not switch off chromium then and there.

All this came back up when I started to try and version control my home directory (a post to follow soon ;]), and the files upon files of garbage that chromium put in it’s configuration directory were showing up. I didn’t want to have this polluting `hg status`, and I certainly did not want it version controlled. I initially settled for just ignoring it, but I realized that it shouldn’t be this complicated. This browser was a loud forceful and obnoxious party guest that thought it was better than my system and could do as it pleased. I had enough.

I started midori back up to see how the new version was doing (I always have it on my system :]) and realized it had gotten a lot better. I also realized it could now do (or could do and I didn’t realize it) most of the things I found nice about chromium. I found the tab trash, the speed dial has gotten better (with a shortcut to add the current page to it), I figured out how to actually correct misspelled words, and after actually opening up the extensions panel and the FAQ, found I could edit keyboard shortcuts; it has a really cool tab browsing shortcut (ordered by last use!). In the time I was gone, not only did Midori get better, but I also have become more aware of how to use it better. I’m still tweaking it (giving it some emacs style keyboard bindings ;]) but I’m in love with it all over again.

As a last note. A quick comparison (very opinion based, your mileage may vary)

find .config/(midori|chromium) -name "*" | wc -l

Gives 17 files for midori and 62 for chromium (clearing all data brings this down to 49)

Midori has the one [short!] configuration file in readable/editable INI style (simple key=value pairs), with ‘extensions’ having simple definitions with descriptive names. The rest of the files are also in JSON/XBEL format (aside from history/bookmarks, which are in database files for performance reasons).

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