HowTo: Browse the Internet on Your Terminal

To noObs like me, I always felt the need to know how things started. I know for example, that there was already an Internet before Firefox, Opera, IE and for that matter before GUI's even came into existence. The question that I postulated from this knowledge was "How did people browse the Internet in an age where there were no fancy buttons, shiny interfaces and gleaming GUIs?

Enter the world of text browsing. I'm not here to discuss the history of browsing. That task is best left to the historians and experts. What I am here to discuss is text browsing and how it can be done today on our GNU/Linux PC specifically through the terminal.

Several software come to mind when we speak of text browsers but I would choose only one: w3m.

Browsing Google on the Terminal with w3m

w3m is a text-based web browser as well as a pager like `more' or `less'. With w3m you can browse web pages through a terminal emulator window (xterm, rxvt or something like that). Moreover, w3m can be used as a text formatting tool which typesets HTML into plain text.

w3m Home

To install w3m on your Debian system, just do this:

$ sudo apt-get install w3m

To browse the interwebs simply do:

$ w3m

1. TAB is a useful key and so is enter
2. To go back, press ESC + Down Arrowkey
3. To search something over at Google,
  • Use the arrow keys to get over the blank space and press the ENTER key
  • Then type the search term and press the ENTER key
  • TAB over to the text equivalent of the 'Search Google' button
  • You can download stuff from the Internet by pressing ENTER on the link text (usually blue)

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