web browser configuration

When installing a fresh Linux once a year or so, who can remember all configuration details for web browsers? Not me. This page documents some config details of browsers in MX Linux (currently 21.3) to aid my memory.


MX Linux has Firefox preinstalled as default browser for XFCE and KDE desktop. Not exactly a lightweight browser but well (try Dillo).

Firefox General Settings

Settings which may not be enabled by default:

To be disabled especially when using different languages in the browser:

Firefox Search Settings

Firefox has many search engines enabled by default, like:

The search engines are extensions which are automatically loaded when Firefox starts. Each can be disabled individually, meaning it will not be in the pop-up “This time, search with …”. There is also a “Remove” button. Not sure what difference that will make in practice but it should not hurt to remove never-used engines.

Startpage is not in the list of available search engines but can be installed as extension via “Find more search engines”. After installation it can be selected as default search engine.

link: Firefox search engines tutorial

Firefox Privacy and Security

If under History you select: “Firefox will never remember history”, it will say:

“Firefox will use the same settings as private browsing, and will not remember any history as you browse the Web.”

Firefox must restart to effectuate private browsing. Note that this will not automatically clear history up till that point. To avoid confusion, clear history first and then set “never remember history”. See Mozilla’s private browsing page to understand the scope of privacy. The main purpose is to hide your browsing history and habits from curious eyes of real people who have authorized or unauthorized access to your computer. A hypothetical scenario in most cases.

Firefox Tracking Protection

If sites have access to all browsing data they accumulate a fairly complete picture of the user and use that for ads or political targeting. Firefox takes tracking protection seriously with the option “strict”.

strict tracking protection in Firefox

Firefox Toolbar Customization

Right-clicking in the toolbar gives the option to customize it by dragging items in or out. When “Bookmark menu” is added to the main toolbar you can disable the Bookmarks Toolbar to save horizontal space. For the same purpose you can uncheck “Title Bar”. This leaves the tabs bar and main toolbar.


This is about Debian’s regular Chrome equivalent (not un-googled), installed from MX Linux repository.

Chromium Search Engine

Chromium’s default search engine is DuckDuckGo. Adding another search engine:

Settings > Search engine > Site search > Add > Edit Search Engine

Fill the fields using the URL as described in Startpage documentation and click “save”:

adding search engine Startpage to Chromium

This will make an entry for Startpage under Site Search. Now to make Startpage the default search engine click the 3 dots next to it and select “make default”. It will then move to the Search Engine section as “Startpage (Default). Its icon will appear in the browser’s URL bar and search results will be from Startpage. Unfortunately the icon is not a button”this time search with …" like in Firefox.

Chromium Smooth Scrolling

Chromium does not have smooth scrolling enabled by default. Non-smooth scrolling gives jumps which make it sometimes hard see how much you moved. One way to enable smooth scrolling is via this URL:


This looks like the equivalent of Firefox’s about:config, and you you will be warned similarly:


Type “smooth scrolling” in the Experiments search bar and when item is found click its drop down menu to select “enabled”. Then you have to relaunch Chromium to make smooth scrolling effective.

Chromium Extensions

Extensions can be installed via Chrome Store. Click the 3 dots in toolbar and go to:

Settings > Extensions > Hamburger Menu > Open Chrome Web Store

There you can search for a particular extension, select its info page, and click Add to Chrome (even though you have Chromium).

Chromium Bookmarks Button

Chromium has no native methods to customize the main toolbar. There is no dedicated bookmarks button, but bookmarks can be accessed through the side panel and a dropdown menu. Altogether it takes five mouseclicks to open, select and close. An extension called Bookmarks Icon can do this better as explained here. After installating this extension it must be pinned to the main toolbar from the extensions contextual menu:

pin Bookmarks Icon to toolbar

The Bookmarks Icon will then be displayed as a button in the extensions area, coincidentally next to the “Bookmark this tab” button in the address bar. It is the same icon apart from color difference. Clicking the Bookmarks Icon will pop a list with bookmarks from toolbar and other bookmarks.

The bookmarks toolbar can be hidden to save horizontal space. A hidden bookmarks toolbar will still be shown when opening a new tab, but disappear soon as any web page is displayed. Clever.

Chromium Incognito Window

Chromium has no setting for private browsing but you can open an incognito window through the 3 dot menu. Browse history and cookies from incognito windows will not be saved when you exit incognito mode, that is, when you close all incognito windows. However it can be verified that those windows do share cookies and other browsing data between them.

To open Chromium with an incognito window by default, first open Chromium’s properties via contextual menu and add the incognito argument:

adding incognito argument to Chromium’s properties

Chromium uses a black theme for incognito windows which can not be changed unfortunately. If you open settings, note that this will load in a new window which is not incognito. Also note that each extension must be configured individually to run in incognito windows.

Chromium tracking

Chromium can be set to block third party cookies and cookies can be wiped when ending the session. These things will be done by default in incognito mode. Do-not-track requests can be sent.

Chromium does not offer a “strict” option where all tracking content and fingerprinting will be actively blocked. Of course not. Chrome is one of Google’s fingerprinting tools.

Gmail bookmark

It is not easy to find a link and create a bookmark for direct login to Gmail. Google will rather let you login to your Google account and select Gmail from there. Two mouseclicks extra, and even more for basic HTML view. Direct links are archived here.

The same as verbatim text:


The same as verbatim text:


Google’s info page about login links means to do the same. However those links often redirect to Google’s about gmail page, not what you want.