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Developer(s) Julian Assange
Stable release 2.2.9 / Dic 2013
Operating system Unix-like
Type Internet
License Public domain

Surfraw (Shell Users' Revolutionary Front Rage Against the Web) is a free POSIX-compliant (i.e. meant for Linux, FreeBSD etc.) command-line shell program for interfacing with a number of web-based search engines.[1] It was created in July 2000 by Julian Assange[2] and is licensed in the public domain[3] and written in the Bourne shell language.

It uses what it calls "elvi" (a tribute to Elvis); elvi are interface widgets for specific engines and databases such as Google, AltaVista, Wikipedia, Dejanews, Freshmeat, research index, Slashdot, ArXiv, and a number of others. It allows options for configuration of using a shell browser (lynx, w3m) or a graphical browser (Firefox, Mozilla, Konqueror).

According to its creator Julian Assange: "Surfraw provides a fast unix command line interface to a variety of popular WWW search engines and other artifacts of power. It reclaims google, altavista, dejanews, freshmeat, research index, slashdot, and many others from the false-prophet, pox-infested heathen lands of html forms, placing these wonders where they belong; deep in unix heartland, as god-loving extensions to the shell."


To see the list of elvi, one can issue the command surfraw -elvi (or the shorter sr -elvi, as sr and surfraw are aliased to mean the same thing); to search using an elvi, use:

sr elvi-name [options] searchterms

For example, to search Google for information on "Debian ports", using the "I'm feeling lucky" option:

sr google -l Debian ports

Or, one could search Wikipedia for the "surfraw" article like this:

sr Wikipedia surfraw

Surfraw's commands can be shortened even further to require only the name of the elvi (i.e. wikipedia surfraw) without the sr or surfraw prefixes; it does this by modifying the current shell's (e.g., bash's) startup files with the provided surfraw-update-path command.[4]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Marco Fioretti (29 August 2012). "Surfing the World Wide Web, raw style". TechRepublic. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  2. ^ David Leigh; Luke Harding. WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy. Surfraw mention highlighted via Google Books: PublicAffairs. ISBN 978-0-85265-239-8. 
  3. ^ Julian Assange; The Surfraw-Devel Team. "COPYING". Debian Git. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Marco Fioretti (8 October 2012). "How to write your own Elvi for Surfraw". TechRepublic. Retrieved 18 June 2014.