One man's adventure in life!

Terminal browsers

...are not for me lol! Undeterred by my impatience setting up the Alpine terminal email client, I read a couple of articles last night about using terminal-based web browsers. They seemed simple to install so why not give them a go?

The two I tried were w3m and Lynx. In my mind I was envisioning a 1980s teletext-type experience and, to be fair, Lynx was reminiscent of that, with different coloured text making a pleasant contrast in the page. Firing up the homepage showed one flaw in that each post was presented in its entirety rather than just the title, date and teaser. w3m was less enjoyable for me. The navigation were harder and I found that having variable sized images load in the page was jarring.

Overall, a major problem is that modern websites are not designed to be accessed this way. For example, menus arranged horizontally across a webpage end up rendered as vertical lists. I also (slightly controversial here?) find reading unicode text to be an unsatisfactory experience that isn't easy on the eye. Something I could change in the terminal settings no doubt but what it really gets down to is my preference for GUI rather than CLI.

I have used the CLI in the past. A couple of the programmes I needed for my work as a research scientist were CLI. I admit it did give me a bit of a “hacker” type thrill to be using a terminal but I was doing so in a very prescribed way. I also occasionally need to run a command or two to get something to work in Kubuntu. I don't hate it but I also don't see a real compelling need to spend time there just because I'm using Linux (something Scott Nesbitt wrote about recently in one of his blog posts).

Another terminal browser that was recommended was Browsh. It looked more like a modern GUI browser in many ways but the video on its website only served to underline why I didn't need it. It showed the creator using it in one of three panels within a tmux terminal window, able to check something on the internet while never leaving the comfort of the CLI where they were simultaneously working on coding! If that is your use case, or if you're working on a server with no GUI, or need to access the internet on a low powered device or low bandwidth connection, or are blind/ partially-sighted using a thoughtfully designed text-only browser like Edbrowse... or if you're just after a bit of a retro computing feel, then I hope one of these wonderful tools created and maintained by dedicated folk works for you.

As for me, it's back to Firefox and the land of GUI applications until the urge comes to dip my toes (successfully or not!) into the world of the CLI again!

2022-02-06 #technology #Linux #CLI #software

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