4 tools to browse the Internet from Linux terminal

In this article, we will focus on how you can browse the Internet from the Linux command line using text browsers. Text browsers are browsers that display only the textual content of a web page, leaving all graphical content including CSS and Javascript. This makes these browsers faster and cuts down on bandwidth. On the other hand, the browsing experience is rather boring, however, as images and videos are not displayed unlike in regular web browsers such as Firefox and Google Chrome. We’ll take a look at 4 text browsers on Ubuntu 18.04 terminal.

  • w3m
  • Lynx
  • Links2
  • ELinks

1) w3m tool

W3m is a text browser that can be used to browse the Internet on a Linux terminal. We’ll take a look at how you can use it to browse the web. First, we need to install the w3m package

apt-get install w3m w3m-img

Sample output

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following additional packages will be installed:
libid3tag0 libimlib2
Suggested packages:
cmigemo dict dict-wn dictd libsixel-bin mpv w3m-el xsel
The following NEW packages will be installed:
libid3tag0 libimlib2 w3m w3m-img
0 upgraded, 4 newly installed, 0 to remove and 629 not upgraded.
Need to get 1,437 kB of archives.
After this operation, 3,270 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n] y

To confirm that it is installed

dpkg -l w3m

Sample output

||/ Name                 Version         Architecture    Description
+++-====================-===============-===============-==============================================
ii  w3m                  0.5.3-26ubuntu0 amd64           WWW browsable pager with excellent tables/fram

Go to website. w3m url… for instance

w3m www.google.com

Output

When using Xterm, you can even view images!

In the example below, I was looking for a Royal Wedding

4 tools to browse the Internet from Linux terminal

To open new tabs

shift + T

4 tools to browse the Internet from Linux terminal

To go back one page

shift + B

To enter a new URL,

shift + U

then enter the url and press Enter.

2) Lynx Tool

This is another text-based browser developed under the GNU GPLv2 license. To install Lynx, run

apt-get install lynx-cur

Sample output

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following additional packages will be installed:
  lynx lynx-common
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  lynx lynx-common lynx-cur
0 upgraded, 3 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 1,038 kB of archives.
After this operation, 2,792 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n] Y

Once the installation is complete, we need to confirm that the installation went right. run

dpkg -l lynx

Output

||/ Name                                 Version                 Architecture            Description
+++-====================================-=======================-=======================-=============================================================================
ii  lynx                                 2.8.9dev8-4ubuntu1      amd64                   classic non-graphical (text-mode) web browser

To start Lynx, run

lynx

Output

4 tools to browse the Internet from Linux terminal

To navigate to the url, run.lynx url

For instance,

lynx www.google.com

Enter Y to continue

4 tools to browse the Internet from Linux terminal

3) Links2 tool

It is a graphical web browser that supports mouse and click. To install links2 tool

apt-get install links2

Sample output

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following additional packages will be installed:
  fontconfig fontconfig-config libcairo2 libcroco3 libdatrie1
  libdirectfb-1.2-9 libdrm-amdgpu1 libdrm-intel1 libdrm-nouveau2
  libdrm-radeon1 libfontconfig1 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-0 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-common
  libgl1-mesa-dri libgl1-mesa-glx libglapi-mesa libgraphite2-3 libharfbuzz0b
  libice6 libllvm5.0 libpango-1.0-0 libpangocairo-1.0-0 libpangoft2-1.0-0
  libpciaccess0 libpixman-1-0 librsvg2-2 librsvg2-common libsensors4 libsm6
  libthai-data libthai0 libtxc-dxtn-s2tc0 libx11-xcb1 libxaw7 libxcb-dri2-0
  libxcb-dri3-0 libxcb-glx0 libxcb-present0 libxcb-render0 libxcb-shape0
  libxcb-shm0 libxcb-sync1 libxcomposite1 libxdamage1 libxfixes3 libxft2
  libxi6 libxinerama1 libxmu6 libxpm4 libxrandr2 libxrender1 libxshmfence1
  libxt6 libxtst6 libxv1 libxxf86dga1 libxxf86vm1 x11-utils xbitmaps xterm

Once the installation is complete, we need to confirm that the installation went right.

dpkg -l links2

Sample output

||/ Name                                 Version                 Architecture            Description
+++-====================================-=======================-=======================-=============================================================================
ii  links2                               2.12-1                  amd64                   Web browser running in both graphics and text mode

Visit the site, run links2 url

For instance,

links2 www.google.com

Output

4 tools to browse the Internet from Linux terminal

Feel free to search for anything in the search bar. In this case, I was looking for Bionic Beaver which is the latest version of Ubuntu at the time of writing this

4 tools to browse the Internet from Linux terminal

4) eLinks tool

Finally, we have the eLinks command line tool, which is used similarly to other text browsers. To install launch

apt-get install elinks

Sample output

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Suggested packages:
  elinks-doc
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  elinks

To visit a site type elinks url

for instance

elinks www.google.com

4 tools to browse the Internet from Linux terminal

Press “Enter” to continue.

4 tools to browse the Internet from Linux terminal

You can now move on to your topic.

We’ve covered several text browsers that geeky and power users can use to access the internet. We welcome you to try one or two and give us your thoughts. Thank.

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