Lynx (web browser)

Lynx (web browser)
A text representation of the Wikipedia page "Lynx (web browser)" displayed using a monospace font mostly colored white and green on a black background.
Wikipedia Article displayed in Lynx
Original author(s) Lou Montulli, Michael Grobe, Charles Rezac
Developer(s) Thomas Dickey
Initial release c. 1992
Stable release 2.8.7rel.2  (June 21, 2010; 16 months ago (2010-06-21)) [+/−]
Preview release 2.8.8dev.8  (January 10, 2011; 9 months ago (2011-01-10)) [+/−]
Written in ISO C
Platform Cross-platform
Available in English
Type web browser
License GNU GPL[1]

Lynx is a text-based web browser for use on cursor-addressable character cell terminals[2] and is very configurable.[3]



Browsing in Lynx consists of highlighting the chosen link using cursor keys, or having all links on a page numbered and entering the chosen link's number. Current versions support SSL[3] and many HTML features. Tables are formatted using spaces, while frames are identified by name and can be explored as if they were separate pages. Lynx cannot inherently display various types of non-text content on the web, such as images and video,[2] but it can launch external programs to handle it, such as an image viewer or a video player.

Because of its text-to-speech–friendly interface,[4] Lynx was once popular with visually impaired users, but better screen readers have reduced the appeal of this application.[4] Lynx is also used to check for usability of websites in older browsers. It is still included in a number of Unix products and Linux distributions,[5] and is particularly useful for reading documentation or downloading files[6] when only a text-based environment is available. It is also useful for accessing websites from a remotely connected system in which no graphical display is available.[6] Despite its text-only nature and age, it can still be used to effectively browse much of the modern web, including performing interactive tasks such as editing Wikipedia. The speed benefits of text-only browsing are most apparent when using low bandwidth internet connections, or older computer hardware that may be slow to render image-heavy content.


Because Lynx does not support graphics, web bugs that track user information are not fetched; therefore, web pages can be read without the privacy concerns of graphic web browsers[7]—though many webmail services today disable images in emails by default, and most graphic web browsers allow images to be disabled as well.[citation needed]

Lynx does support HTTP cookies,[2] which can also be used to track user information, but it does not support JavaScript and thus JavaScript cookies, which some websites require to work correctly. However, like most web browsers, cookie support can be disabled in Lynx. Similarly, Lynx also supports browsing histories and page caching, both of which can raise privacy concerns.[citation needed]


Lynx accepts configuration options from either command-line options or configuration files. There are 142 command line options according to its help message.[8] The template configuration file lynx.cfg lists 233 configurable features.[9] There is some overlap between the two, however there are command-line options such as -restrict which are not matched in lynx.cfg. In addition to pre-set options by command-line and configuration file, lynx's behavior can be adjusted at runtime using its options menu.[10] Again, there is some overlap between the settings. Lynx implements many of these runtime optional features, optionally (controlled through a setting in the configuration file) allowing the choices to be saved to a separate writable configuration file. The reason for restricting the options which can be saved originated in a usage of lynx which was more common in the mid-1990s, i.e., using lynx itself as a front-end application to the Internet accessed by dial-in connections.

Development history

Lynx was a product of the Distributed Computing Group within Academic Computing Services of the University of Kansas,[7] and was initially developed in 1992 by a team of students at the university (Lou Montulli, Michael Grobe and Charles Rezac) as a hypertext browser used solely to distribute campus information as part of a Campus-Wide Information Server and for browsing the Gopher space.[4] Beta availability was announced to Usenet on 22 July 1992.[11] In 1993 Montulli added an Internet interface and released a new version (2.0) of the browser.[12][13]

Garrett Blythe created DosLynx in April 1994 [14] and later joined the Lynx effort as well. Foteos Macrides ported much of Lynx to VMS and maintained it for a time. In 1995, Lynx was released under the GNU General Public License, and is now maintained by a group of volunteers led by Thomas Dickey.

Platforms and features

The Logo of the OS/2 port: Lynx/2.

Lynx was originally designed for Unix and VMS and is a popular console browser on Linux. Versions are also available for DOS.[15] Recent versions run on all Microsoft Windows releases,[15] and Mac OS X, both PowerPC[16] and (via Fink) Intel CPUs. There was also an early port to "Classic" Macintosh System 7 and later, called MacLynx.[17] Ports to BeOS, MINIX, QNX, AmigaOS (called ALynx)[7] and OS/2 (called Lynx/2)[7] are also available.

Lynx is based on a very old version of libwww, dated from 1994.[18][19] It supports many computer protocols: Gopher, HTTP, HTTPS,[3] FTP, WAIS, and NNTP. Support for NNTP was added to libwww from ongoing Lynx development in 1994.[20] Support for HTTPS was added to Lynx's fork of libwww later, initially as patches due to concerns about encryption.[21]

See also


  1. ^ "COPYHEADER for Lynx 2.8.7". October 2, 2006. 
  2. ^ a b c Rakitin, Jason (27 Oktober 1997). "Review: Alternative Web browsers". Network World Fusion. Archived from the original on 5 October 2001. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Legan, Dallas (September 2001). "Text-Mode Web Browsers for OS/2". The Southern California OS/2 User Group. Retrieved 16 August 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Bolso, Erik Inge (8 March 2005). "2005 Text Mode Browser Roundup". Linux Journal. Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  5. ^ "OpenBSD 4.8 release notes". 1 November 2010. Retrieved 12 December 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Wayner, Peter (19 October 2010). "Top 10 specialty Web browsers you may have missed". InfoWorld. p. 3.,3#dillo. Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d Legan, Dallas E. (October 2002). "Lynx on OS/2: Straight Answers and Keen Tricks - Part 1 - Start Using the Lynx Browser". The Southern California OS/2 User Group. Retrieved 16 August 2010. 
  8. ^ "Lynx 2.8.7 Help-File". Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Lynx 2.8.7 Configuration File". Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Lynx User's Guide". Retrieved July 5, 2011. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Web Browser History". Living Internet. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  13. ^ Lynn H. Nelson (2000-11-07). "Before the Web: the early development of History on-line". Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  14. ^ Buttles, Wayne. "DosLynx Beta Hype". Burlington, Vermont: self-published. 
  15. ^ a b Buttles, W.. "Lynx for DOS 386+ or Win32". (Op. cit.). Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  16. ^ "Lynx 2.8.7d9". Michigan: MacUpdate LLC. June 22, 2009. Retrieved 2011-09-21. 
  17. ^ Adams, Chris. "MacLynx, a text-only browser". Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  18. ^ Kahan, José (5 August 1999). "Why Libwww?". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  19. ^ Thomas E. Dickey (July 2, 2007). "Re: [Lynx-dev] using fresher libwww?". Lynx-dev mailing list. 
  20. ^ Kahan, José (7 June 2002). "Change History of libwww". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  21. ^ Chris Nestrud (October 7, 2000). "Re: lynx, and https". 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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