Linux in The News 2-6-23

Last Updated on February 6, 2023 by KC7NYR

Carbonyl Lets You Use a Graphical Web Browser in Your Linux Terminal

Carbonyl tops the best terminal-based Linux browsers list by turning your Linux terminal into a GUI web browser.

Browsing the internet in your terminal is cool, but limited. Image support can be sketchy, and JavaScript may as well not exist. If you plan on consuming media, you’re out of luck.

Carbonyl is a Chromium fork for your terminal. It’s a full-fat browser that adheres to, and is compatible with modern standards, meaning that pages behave as they should, and you can even watch streaming video, within the Linux terminal!

Are Terminal-Based Browsers a Relic of the Past?

lynx terminal browser showing a MUO article

There are a bunch of good reasons to browse the internet from the comfort of your terminal. It could be that eschewing the bloat of and Wayland, a terminal is all you have. Maybe you like SSHing into remote machines and browsing the internet from there.

Perhaps you, like us, just really, really like terminals.

Whatever the reason, your choices of web browsers have, until recently, been limited, and your experience of the world wide web has been a janky, barely-functional one.

All terminal-based browsers have limitations: Lynx—the oldest web browser that is still maintained, is great and super-lightweight, but it doesn’t support media of any type, and is easily confused by JavaScript; w3m can display images under certain circumstances, but completely destroys formatting, and tends towards the slow side.

Browsh, which works by starting Firefox in headless mode and connecting to it through an automation protocol, is incredibly resource intensive and slow, and despite its underlying Firefox stack, still has major formatting issues.

Carbonyl Is the (Almost) Perfect Web Browser for Your Linux Terminal

MUO story as viewed through caarbonyl

Carbonyl is a fork of Google’s Chromium project and has none of the issues mentioned above. Use it, and the first thing you’ll notice is how insanely fast it is. Pages connect and render in an instant—seemingly quicker than a desktop GUI browser, and every page we visited was rendered correctly. Resource usage is light, especially so if you choose to run Linux without a desktop environment.

Even better, Carbonyl possesses almost all the capabilities of regular Chromium. You can watch YouTube videos and play online games such as Doom. Video preview thumbnails start automatically, and if animated GIFs are your thing, you can flick through meme pages to your heart’s content.

Unfortunately, extensions aren’t currently supported, although they are likely to be in the future.

While signing into online accounts is a chore with browsers such as Lynx, we were able to quickly and effortlessly use Gmail, Slack, Asana, and OpenAI with Carbonyl, thanks to its Chromium-based goodness.

Taylor Swift Lavender Haze on youtube in carbonyl in Cool Retro term.jpg

We tested Carbonyl in a range of Linux terminals, including the XFCE terminal. GNOME terminal, kitty, and the glorious Cool Retro Terminal. Carbonyl was smooth, fast, and flawless in all of them.

We even connected to our Raspberry Pi via SSH in CRT, and ran Carbonyl remotely, watching Taylor Swift music videos on YouTube. No problem.

How to Run the Carbonyl Web Browser in Your Linux Terminal

Carbonyl is available as a Docker image, so make sure that you have Docker installed and that your user is part of the Docker group.

Pull the Carbonyl Docker image and visit your destination of choice with:

docker run -ti fathyb/carbonyl

It’s that simple. The first time you run this command, you’ll have to wait up to a few minutes as the images are downloaded, but any subsequent use will see Carbonyl fire up instantly.

We suggest you visit a search engine page first as Carbonyl does not come with a search bar built in, and you’ve to input any URL as a command-line argument. Once on a page, you can use the mouse to click on links, input text into text boxes, and navigate as normal.

Carbonyl presents web content using your terminal fonts for text, and solid blocks of color for images, so naturally, you can expect low-resolution pixelation as you browse.

Image quality can be massively improved by decreasing your terminal font size, although this means that the text is unreadable.

Another slight drawback is that Carbonyl doesn’t stream audio, so if you’re using it to watch movies online, you’ll need to have subtitles turned on.

Experience All the Web Has to Offer With Carbonyl

Carbonyl is an impressive terminal-based browser, which gives almost full functionality even without a desktop environment, and over SSH connections.

Stay in your terminal and explore the most useful content on the web!