Terminal-based Quicksearch

The title of this post might be a bit misleading, since it’s not about the history-search feature you often find in shells such as zsh, which is the shell I use. Incidentally, if you don’t know about this feature, try it out! See below:

Press ctrl+r and start typing out a partial command that you’ve used previously, you should see it pop up on your commandline, ready for use. In zsh, this is the history-incremental-search-backward feature on the line editor, which you can see more of over on this page.

But as mentioned, this post is about something else. Some time ago I saw Jonathan Hitchcock mention use of the open(1) command on OSX and thought this was pretty nifty, leading to me looking around for the equivalent on Linux. I came across ‘xdg-open’, which works with the freedesktop standards and thus generally respects your desktop-environment-of-choice’s application preferences. After using it a bit, I decided it was unwieldy (since there were too many commands starting with ‘xdg-‘), and aliased it to ‘xopen’, which has the benefit of being both short and easily tab-completable.

This has been working pretty well for me since then, and only recently did I come up with a slightly improved use of it. Every now and then I want to quickly check up something online, and I could certainly use lynx/elinks for this, but they’re also a bit painful to navigate with on many sites, so they’re not exactly ideal candidates. To the rescue comes my handy xopen alias!

function googsearch() {
  xopen "http://www.google.com/search?q=$*"

function googsearchphrase() {
  xopen "http://www.google.com/search?q=\"$*\""

Those are the functions I created, and they expand quite easily on my shell, suiting me on both laziness and versatility/speed. The end effect is they quickly fire off a query to google in my preferred browser, which can be one alt-tab away or focus by default (depending on your DE config). Later I *might* investigate using another search engine, but my typical use is on Google.

The only downside I can see to this is I can still only make it work on a local shell at this stage, so I’d have to see how I can make it work through ssh tunnels or somesuch. Maybe some sort of hack emulating a socket-forward as agent forwarding is done? If anyone has any ideas, please post them in the comments, I’d be glad to hear about it.

Update: just for clarity, what I meant with the last paragraph is that I’d want to call this command (or something to the same effect) on a remote server, and have the query executed on my local machine.