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Top 3 Non-graphical Browser Options

Monday Aug 24th 2009 by Juliet Kemp

Sometimes you need Web access but don’t want a graphical browser. Here are three programs, some of which you probably already have, to get you started.

Ever been logged on via console and wanted to get Web access without firing up a graphical browser? I most often need this when setting up apps with Web interfaces and wanting to check the state of the interface locally.

Here are three options. Chances are at least one will already exist on the system you're accessing. They all use keystrokes for navigation: Check the help pages for details.

  • lynx: Probably the most basic. Doesn't deal well with tables, they're just shown as lines with no cell separation. It does have fairly basic frames support; you navigate frames individually. It also has colors, at least in the current Debian/Ubuntu version (the lynx-cur package, v2.8.7).

    Hit 'o' for the settings page, which allows color configuration (among other things). Hit 'h' for help.

  • w3m: Handles tables happily and will render frames properly if you turn that option on.

    Hit 'o' for the options settings, w3m is highly configurable. It has colors by default. Hit 'H' for help.

  • links: Renders both tables and frames properly. I found it to handle frames and screen real estate better than w3m. Colors are available but seem not to be set up by default.

    See the manual for information on colour configuration, or just hit 'ESC', go to the 'Setup' then 'Terminal Options' menu, and choose the 'Color' option). Hit 'ESC' and go to the Help menu for help.

You can also use text browsers to easily dump a page to stdout, either as formatted output or as sourcecode. This can be useful if you want to process Web page output with a script. Try w3m --dump or w3m --dump-source (lynx --dump and lynx --source; links -dump and links -source).

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