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December 6, 2020

Terminal browsers: They're still kinda cool.

In today's big and bloated internet, you might find it hard to believe that there are some of us out here who still use terminal web browsers. While I mainly use Brave these days for my web browsing, there are times where I fire up my terminal browsers to get a few minimal things done.

Why even use terminal browsers? What's the point?

This is a good question coming from the terminal browser unitiated. However, if you mess around with a terminal browser for just a little bit, you will see why some of us still enjoy them. They are fast because they don't load any advertisements or JavaScript. They load the contents of the page, sans any videos or images. When you run a terminal web browser, you get one thing and one thing only: text.

A text only internet? Why?

Easy. There are certain times when I don't need anything but the ability to read the contents of a web page. Maybe I want to check out the news without having to worry about all of the ads and scripts that are constantly running in the background of news pages. Try it out for yourself--load a heavy, bloated site like CNN in a terminal browser like lynx and compare the time it takes to load content with a more bloated, mainstream GUI web browser, such as Firefox. You might marvel at the difference.

Of course, terminal web browsers are completely useless when I want to watch something on YouTube or LBRY, or if I want to interact with any website that requires JavaScript to run. However, if I am simply trying to navigate text-only content, it can be a joy to browse around using a terminal browser, knowing there are zero background scripts being loaded and enjoying the quick times it takes for the content to appear in my terminal, ready for me to read it.

Of course, if all you want to do is read the news, you could also simply use a terminal RSS reader like newsboat or even a GUI RSS feed reader like News Flash to catch up with your morning news. However, if you want to browse around the internet in a text-only browser and experience the internet the way it used to be, free of bloat and serving up speedy content, there is still a place for a terminal web browser in your life.

Which terminal web browsers should I check out?

Here are a few I use. You can find these in the repositories of most Linux distributions.

You can read about each of those options at the links above, and explore some other options if you'd like. There are actually all kinds of quality terminal browsers out there. These are just the ones I use the most and am most familiar with. Feel free to explore the different options, and if you find something cool that I might not have used, let me know about it so I can feature it here or in a future piece of video or podcast content.