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Old 29th August 2008
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Default Limitations of Console Web Browsers

Hello,

What are the limitations of console web browsers? Obviously they generally don't allow for the display of graphics (I think w3m can handle this through the framebuffer). Nor do they run flash (that may be a plus for some people). Can they handle javascript (well, at least that which doesn't require a mouse)? Can they stream audio? Do they handle css? frames? tables? What about https? Would I be able to order stuff from Amazon or fill out government forms on lynx? etc., etc.
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Old 29th August 2008
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w3m would propably be best here, displaying IMAGES in virtual terminal (xterm) dunno for console, has TABS, displays TABLES, dunno about iframe, javascript and flash does not work as I remember, css, autio, no. HTTPS should work if I recall corectly.
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Old 29th August 2008
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The functionalities of each console browser tend to different, visual restrictions are dependent on the TERM type uses, and as you said, graphics are typically unsupported, I guess a very determined author could make use of aalib.. but none that I know of do.

Protocol specific things like HTTPS and IPv6 support are possible, I know for sure that OpenBSD's lynx fork has them. A subset of Javascript and CSS would be possible, but, there are limitations.. even the rendering of HTML is best guess.

Try out the available browsers, see how they manage the site you're trying to access..
lynx
links (has an X port too..)
& w3m.

I don't know any others off-by-heart.

Last edited by BSDfan666; 29th August 2008 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 29th August 2008
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The two console browsers I've used most are lynx and links. They have many similarities and also complementary differences.

links can display graphics on the Linux framebuffer very well (looks much like it does in X). Not sure about on the NetBSD framebuffer, I"m dubious but haven't had time to take a serious crack at that.

My sense is that links also handles tables and frames better than lynx.

links can do downloads in the background, while lynx can't. (Mostly useful if you're not on dial-up.)

Both can do SSL connections. If you just want to download a page that way, there's a good chance it will work (I use "lynx -dump" on some https pages regularly). As far as doing any serious https browsing, such as web banking, I've found both lynx and links to be totally incapable on the sites I use.
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Old 29th August 2008
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maybe i haven't put enough effort into learning links/lynx but i find console-based browsers useless for browsing. even text heavy sites are hard to read.
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Old 29th August 2008
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They were kinda popular in the early/mid 90's, but with the complexities of sites increasing.. as ephemera pointed out, the browsers have difficulties trying to render the site in some legible form.

Still, I wouldn't rule them out entirely.. they can be useful to browse mailing list archives, and some forums still render adequately enough.

The OpenBSD site is nice for example, unlike NetBSD/FreeBSD, OpenBSD has decided to keep the classic style alive. (Which, I kinda wish more people would do..).

As respect, I made this post via lynx.. without emoticons.
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Old 30th August 2008
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elinks works rather well, it has some support for frames, javascript, etc.

I would prefer a graphical browser any day of the week, but if that's not an option for some reason, elinks works so-so.
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Old 30th August 2008
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links/elinks have never really failed to render a page in a decent enough to use. Although I admit, the pages I've checked only ever had issues with [early] Opera 9.x



If one can put up with the textual nature and the level of feature support using either links, elinks, or some other form of them. Is actually quite a nice way to surf the web, especially if you need to find something. Particulally so if t he website design is hard to navigate in lynx (or you just can't wrap your mind around it). You can even use the mouse to go through pages and options.



I to prefer a GUI based browser most of the time, it's just more convenient -- I need the same browser without much regard to OS. And links does not render graphics very nicely last time I tested it's abilities under X. Many times however, I'll be working on something and just (ab)use my shells job management, and fire off lynx to look up docs. Heck, even Live Journal works well with lynx, after so many years lol.
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Old 2nd September 2008
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Thanks for the replies.

I know that console browsers had limitations (graphics being the most obvious), I just don't know how much. Most of the sites I visit are still able to be navigated even if frames and tables don't render properly. Some are pretty messed up, and some rely so much on fancy rendering, flash, javascript, etc. that any meaningful browsing can only take place in IE or Firefox.

When I'm working strictly in the console (as I am doing more and more), I find it annoying to have to load up X just to run a browser.

The biggest unknown for me is https. Of course, even if https does work, who knows if sites that employ it are renderable in the console (so much reliance on java, javascript, etc.)? I guess more experimentation.

I guess that's one gripe that can come out of this thread - more sites should limit their reliance on the 'bells and whistles' technologies such as flash, etc. and focus more on content delivered. I know I'll strive as best as I can to make my sites 100% console browser compatible.
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Old 2nd September 2008
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Keep clicking this till something comes up on Tuesday for my new browser.
Or Click here now.
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Old 2nd September 2008
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I read about that, they'll be using Webkit.. or so I read, and a new Javascript core.

Will it be useful? I don't know... it's probably a marketing thing, lot's of users use Google but continue to use really horrible browsers. (Internet Explorer, for example..).

They claim it'll be open source, that's a big thing... it'll also bundle their "Gears framework" (Isn't that Java?).

Time will tell.
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Old 2nd September 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSDfan666 View Post
I read about that, they'll be using Webkit.. or so I read, and a new Javascript core.
Yes, Chrome will use WebKit for HTML rendering. And their JS VM is called V8. (According to Ars Technica.)

Quote:
They claim it'll be open source, that's a big thing... it'll also bundle their "Gears framework" (Isn't that Java?).
No, Google Gears is their JavaScript framework for creating Ajax-style applications. Similar to Dojo, extjs, and all the others.
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Old 7th September 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSDfan666 View Post
The OpenBSD site is nice for example, unlike NetBSD/FreeBSD, OpenBSD has decided to keep the classic style alive. (Which, I kinda wish more people would do..).
I think that the NetBSD site uses frames - does the OpenBSD site use tables or something else?
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Old 7th September 2008
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On lynx vs. links - they both seem to have similar memory usage (is there a way to do more accurate memory stats than just top?). And they both seem to be just as snappy. Are they both similarly safe (i.e., no security vulnerabilities)?

It just seems that links renders some pages better (i.e., with tables and such). If they are both equal in system usage and security, what would be the benefits of lynx over links?



(of course the feature set of graphical browsers is much greater, but I'm exploring textual browsers at this point. )
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Old 7th September 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IdOp View Post
links can display graphics on the Linux framebuffer very well (looks much like it does in X). Not sure about on the NetBSD framebuffer, I"m dubious but haven't had time to take a serious crack at that.
This feature is more-or-less broken. It tries to make use of the svgalib (I think), which must be used as root user (if you can even get it to work in the first place). So root is browsing the web - does that sound safe to you.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJ_coder
I think that the NetBSD site uses frames - does the OpenBSD site use tables or something else?
Ehm, no it doesn't?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BSDFan666
The OpenBSD site is nice for example, unlike NetBSD/FreeBSD, OpenBSD has decided to keep the classic style alive. (Which, I kinda wish more people would do..).
Well, the FreeBSD and NetBSD website look better ...
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Old 7th September 2008
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With lynx run as a regular user, I don't really think you can get any security issues: aside from the usual "oops" style bugs that pop up in any code base. I find lynx easier to navigate with (via keyboard) then links out of box, but maybe it's because I've used lynx a lot longer. The way links lays out pages, you really are not missing that much beyond images and javascript. It's close enough that there is little mental change to usage from gui browsers, anymore then using kedit after living with notepad.

@Carpetsmoker yes they do and with better markup then I've seen on many sites, but the web is about content not sex appeal ;-)
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Old 8th September 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJ_coder
This feature is more-or-less broken. It tries to make use of the svgalib (I think), which must be used as root user (if you can even get it to work in the first place). So root is browsing the web - does that sound safe to you.
No that doesn't sound particularly safe. I've never had much use for SVGAlib; a great many years ago I tried it out and, not surprizingly, lockups ensued. So it was basically anything that needed that, forget about it. One main reason for using Unix-like OSs is to increase stability, so why go down the road of decreasing it?

Coming back to links and NetBSD, what I wanted to muck around with (and again, doubt will work) is a thing called DirectFB, which is apparently supported by links. Now, the DirectFB README says it used to work on NetBSD 1.6, but that was a long time ago . I didn't see it in the precompiled packages for 4.0. Anyway, that all seems like an avenue to fool around with -- definitely not the sanctioned way to proceed -- and see what happens. But for me it's a low priority thing and I'm not sure when I'll get around to it. Would be interesting to know if anybody had luck with that or not.

Quote:
... what would be the benefits of lynx over links?
By way of background, I'm a longtime lynx user, just started using links too this year. (So I'm much more comfortable in lynx which is a bias.) A few lynx advantages off the top of my head:

* I like using vi keys for moving in a web page. links doesn't support them. (FWIW, I was able to hack them in, to a point.)

* When you cancel a page load with the Z key in links, it kills what you've got so far and goes back to the prior page. This can be quite annoying if you had what you wanted on the new page.

* When you move back through the history in links, you don't always end up on the link you started at, you may be at the top link in the page. Similary, when you load a new page, you're not on any link in the page, you have to hit DownArrow to get to the first one.

* lynx can be a useful file manager, e.g., you can tag things and delete them.

I like links a lot for certain things (like reading this forum), but lynx is so venerable and has so many features that links isn't a true drop-in replacement like the authors claim. (Not that it needs to be.)

Last edited by IdOp; 8th September 2008 at 08:23 PM.
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