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A command line Web browser that I found very usable over the years, Lynx (project page here) is a simple and elegant solution to a range of problems that Web 2.0 brings.

lynx-start

The main thing about Lynx is it’s very lightweight – it doesn’t load images, JavaScript, Flash, PDFs, tracking pixels, content from multiple ad servers, potentially some exploits and malware, etc. – all the things your unmodified Firefox browser fetches when loading a Web page. And it’s surprising how much faster the Web is without all that overhead. Still, I’ve managed to use Twitter and access my Webmail using Lynx.

The Windows version of Lynx has also proven extremely useful as a countermeasure to shoulder-surfing, since the same amount of information can be displayed in window that is probably smaller than this screenshot:

lynx-win

I had no problems getting a working insallation on Windows 8 with the curses (not color-style) release. On Windows 7 it’s hit-and-miss, as the required SSL libraries might be present or they might not, and it might require compiling he source using Cygwin.

Navigation
It’s possible to get by without learning the more advanced keybindings. Basic navigation is as simple as using the arrow keys to move between links, and pressing ‘g‘ to enter a new URL. The ‘/’ key gives the same feature as CTRL+F for searching within a page. There are numerous key bindings for the browser, but you’ll more than likely get by with a small handful.

If you’re using Lynx regularly, you’ll want to bookmark Web pages. Use the ‘a’ key to add the current Web page to the bookmarks file. Use the ‘v’ key to view the stored bookmarks.

lynx-bookmarks-list

The bookmarks are actually stored in an HTML file that can be directly edited like any other to better organise the entries.

Cookies
Since Lynx doesn’t do JavaScript or Flash or download ads, the only thing to worry about are cookies. In the lynx.cfg file you can set the browser to ignore third-party cookies by uncommenting the #ACCEPT_ALL_COOKIES:FALSE line.

When using the browser, access the ‘Cookie Jar’ with CTRL+K. Stored cookies can be removed individually by pressing the Enter key and ‘D‘.

lynx-cookie-jar

Configuration and Setup
The most direct way of configuring the browser is to press the ‘O’ key to show the Options Menu.

lynx-config

If you really wanted to customise the browser, edit the following files on Linux:
/home/[user]/lynx_bookmarks.html [User’s bookmarks]
/etc/lynx-cur/lynx.cfg [Browser configuration]
/etc/lynx-cur/lynx.lss [Lynx UI colour settings]

And on Windows the files are:
C:\Users\[user]\Documents\lynx_bookmarks.html [User’s bookmarks]
C:\Program Files\Lynx - web browser\lynx.cfg [Browser configuration]
C:\Program Files\Lynx - web browser\lynx.lss [Lynx UI colour settings]

And on a FreeBSD system:
/home/[user]/lynx_bookmarks.html [User’s bookmarks]
/usr/local/etc/lynx.cfg [Browser configuration]
/usr/local/etc/lynx.lss [Lynx UI colour settings]

These files can be copied over to other installations of Lynx.

Get Files and Archive Web Pages
Move the cursor over the file link, and press the ‘D‘ key. By default the ‘Save to disk’ option will save the file to your home directory, but you can specify the file path otherwise.

lynx-save-file

The download feature can also be used to download a linked Web page as a .gz archive.

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