Text mode (console) browsing with tabs with Elinks / Text browsers – (lynx, elinks, links and w3m) useful HTTP debugging tools for Linux and FreeBSD servers

The last days, I'm starting to think the GUI use is making me brainless so I'm getting back to my old habits of using console.
I still remember with a grain of nostalgy how much more efficient I used to be when the way to interact with my computer was primary in text mode console.
Actually, I'm starting to get this idea the more new a software is the more inefficient it makes your use of computer, not to mention the hardware resources required by newer software is constantly increasing.

With this said, I started occasionally browsing again like in the old days by using links text browser.
In the old days I mostly used lynx and its more advanced "brother" text browser links.
The main difference between lynx and links is that lynx does not have any support for the terrible "javascript", whether links supports most of the Javascript ver 2.
Also links and has a midnight commander like pull down menus on the screen top, – handy for people who prefer some more interactivity.

In the past I remember I used also to browse graphically in normal consoles (ttys) with a hacked version of links calledTThere is also a variation of linksxlinks suitable for people who would like to have graphical browser in console (ttys).

I used xlinks quite heavily in the past, when I have slower computer P166Mhz with 64MB of memory 2.5 GB HDD (What a times boy what a times) .
Maybe when I have time I will install it on my PC and start using it again like in the old days to boost my computer use efficiency…
I remember the only major xlinks downside was it doesn't included support for Adobe flash (though this is due to the bad non-free software nature of Adobe lack of proper support for free software and not a failure of xlinks developers. Anyways for me this wasn't a big trouble since, ex Macromedia (Adobe) Flash support is not something essential for most of my work…

links2 is actually the naming of links version 2. elinks emerged later (if I remember correctly, as fork project of links).
elinks difference with links constitutes in this it supports tabbed browsing as well as colors (links browser displays results monochrome).

Having a tabbed browsing support in tty console is a great thing…
I personally belive text browsing if properly used can in many ways outbeat, graphic browsing in terms of performance and time spend to obtain data. I'm convinced text browsing is superior for two reasons:
1. with text there is way less elements to obstruct your attention.
– No graphical annoying flash banners, no annoying taking the attention pictures

2. Navigating in web pages using the keyboard is more efficient than mouse
– Using keyboard shorcuts is always quicker than mouse, generally keboard has always been a quicker way to access computer commands.

Another reason to use text browsing is, it is mostly the text part of a page that matters, most of the pages that provide images to better explain a topic are bloated (this is my personal view though, i'm sure designer guys will argue me :D).
Here is a screenshot of a my links text browser in action, I'm sorry the image is a bit unreadable, but after taking a screenshot of the console and resizing it with GIMP this is what I got …

Links text console browser screenshot with 2 tabs opened Debian GNU / Linux

For all those new to Linux who didn't tried text browsing yet and for those interested in computer history, I suggest you install and give a try to following text browsers:
 

  • lynx
  • (Supports colorful text console text browsing)
    lynx text console browser Debian Squeeze GNU / Linux Screenshot

  • links
  • Links www text console browser screenshot on Debian Linux

  • elinks
  • (Supports colors filled text browsing and tabs)
    elinks opened duckduckgo.com google alternative search engine in mlterm terminal Debian Linux

  • w3m
  • w3m one of the oldest text console browsers screenshot Debian Linux Squeeze 6.2

By the way having the 4 text browsers is very useful for debugging purposes for system administrators too, so in any case I think this 4 web browsers are absoutely required software for newly installed GNU / Linux or BSD* based servers.

For Debian and the derivatives Linux distributions, the 4 browsers are available as deb packages, so install them with following apt 1 liner:
 

debian:~# apt-get –yes install w3m elinks links lynx
….

FreeBSD users can install the browsers using, cmd:
 

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/www/w3mfreebsd# make install clean
….
freebsd# cd /usr/ports/www/elinksfreebsd# make install clean
….
freebsd# cd /usr/ports/www/linksfreebsd# make install clean
….
freebsd# cd /usr/ports/www/lynxfreebsd# make install clean
….

In links using the tabs functionality appeared, somewhere near the 2001 or 2000 (at least that was the first time I saw links with tabbed browsing enabled). My first time to saw links support opening multiple pages within the same screen under tabs was on Redhat Linux 9

Opening multiple pages in tabs in the text browser is done by pressing the t key and typing in the desired URL to open isnide.
For more than 2 tabs, again t has to be pressed and same procedure goes on and on.
It was pretty hard for me to figure out how I can do a text browsing with tabs, though I found a way to open new tabs it took me some 10 minutes in pondering how to switch between the new opened links browser tabs.

Hence, I thought it would be helpful to mention here how tabs can be switched in links text browser. Actually it turned it is pretty easy to Switch tabs tabs back and foward.

1 tab to move backwards is done with < (key), wheter switching one tab forward is done with the > key.

On UK and US qwerty keyboards alignment the movement a tab backward and forward is done with holding shift and pressing < onwards holding both keys simultaneously and analogously with pressing shift + >
 

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5 Responses to “Text mode (console) browsing with tabs with Elinks / Text browsers – (lynx, elinks, links and w3m) useful HTTP debugging tools for Linux and FreeBSD servers”

  1. admin says:
    Epiphany 2.30.6 Epiphany 2.30.6 Debian GNU/Linux x64 Debian GNU/Linux x64
    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; bg-bg) AppleWebKit/531.2+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0 Safari/531.2+ Debian/squeeze (2.30.6-1) Epiphany/2.30.6

    Something I forgot to mention in the article is w3m 

    text browser, has very funny controls. Its just a cursor you move manually across the scren with down, left, up, down arrows. When you use it its like moving a mouse cursor, tabs between clickable buttons are not moved when up/down arrow is presssed, its an inteersting concept to see 🙂

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  2. admin says:
    Epiphany 2.30.6 Epiphany 2.30.6 Debian GNU/Linux x64 Debian GNU/Linux x64
    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; bg-bg) AppleWebKit/531.2+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0 Safari/531.2+ Debian/squeeze (2.30.6-1) Epiphany/2.30.6

    Something, else I forgot to mention is that WIndows users can also enjoy text mode browsing with lynx or w3m browsers.
    Below is a quote directly extracted from w3m manual page:

    w3m run on Unix (Solaris, SunOS, HP-UX, Linux, FreeBSD, and EWS4800) and on Microsoft Windows 9x/NT.

    Some time ago, I’ve tested lynx on Microsoft Windows and it works fine too. lynx is even available for OpenVMS and other archaic operating systems as well.

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  3. admin says:
    Epiphany 2.30.6 Epiphany 2.30.6 Debian GNU/Linux x64 Debian GNU/Linux x64
    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; bg-bg) AppleWebKit/531.2+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0 Safari/531.2+ Debian/squeeze (2.30.6-1) Epiphany/2.30.6

    People who would like to have a monochrome display like in the old days the Hercules monitor display on modern screens displaying in (blue and black) colors run w3m -M e.g.:

    # w3m -M http://yandex.ru

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    • admin says:
      Epiphany 2.30.6 Epiphany 2.30.6 Debian GNU/Linux x64 Debian GNU/Linux x64
      Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; bg-bg) AppleWebKit/531.2+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0 Safari/531.2+ Debian/squeeze (2.30.6-1) Epiphany/2.30.6

      Also for various configurations, while w3m has a running website press “o” key. A very long screen with “multiple” configuration options in the format (Yes / No) will appear, cookies, colors, proxies, ssl certificates, browser ftp settings behavariour etc. are configurable.

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  4. Intuos 5 PTH850 says:
    Opera 9.64 Opera 9.64 Windows XP Windows XP
    Opera/9.64(Windows NT 5.1; U; en) Presto/2.1.1

    Now that’s nice!

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