Jul 13, 2009

Elinks, the best browser for text consoles

[ This was an old email ( though still valid) that I had sent to the internal mailing list at the previous company I worked for. I used elinks in xterm, so you can skip xterm related stuff if you use it on plain text console]

I have started using "elinks" for most tasks.. It is much better than
I thought. Only a few defaults are amiss. I just feel the following
tips will make you like elinks.

Tips in using "elinks":
Note, I use it in xterm.
1: First, make yourself familiar with settings up options
manager. To get the Options manager, first press Esc on
the keyboard, or the top row of the terminal using mouse.
In the resulting menu, Go to options manager.

The points that follow start with the option to
change. When changing the following settings, make sure you
read the accomponying text.

2: Document->Cache->Ignore cache-control info from server
Set it to: 0
Description: Cache-control header item is usually set by CGIs
to hint that the content must not be cached. When it is
ignored, it ends up as a huge nuisance.

3: Document->Default color settings->Use document-specified
Set it to: 2
Dont worry, in a short while we will be disabling
transparency. :-)

4: Document->HTML Rendering->Underline Links
Set it to: 1
Well, Experiement. I liked with Underlines. Though it can get
nasty in webmail.

5: Document->Browser->Forms->
External editor
Set it to: your favorite editor.
When focus is in a text area, and it is in edit mode, press
F4 to open the content in text editor.

6: Under "User interface", play as you like. I liked the
i. Clock
ii. LEDs

7: Terminals->xterm->colors
Set it to: 2
Actually, the correct way would be to set TERM environment
variable before starting elinks .. But I dont want to bother
myself with that, as I dont think my X is gonna get set to
monochrome all of a sudden.

If you don't like the document specified color for a
particular website, you can always cycle through color
choosing algorithms using %. It will become second nature
sooner than you imagine.

8: Terminals->xterm->Transparency
Set it to: 0

Other than these tips, remember, the mouse works just like in firefox
for so many things.
1. Left click to open
2. Right click links to get more options
3. Right click inside document to get yet more options
4. Middle click a link to open in new tab.
5. Middle click a tab to close the tab.
6. Scroll wheel works for vertical scrolling.
7. Scroll on the tabs bar to switch tabs.

Tips for using forms:
1. Press enter on a form's entry field before typing anything
into it. You can see the the mode in the status bar.
2. Press enter again to submit the form. Again, the status bar.
3. Press dot (.) to enable link numbering .. when this mode is
on, you can type a number to go to that link. Even the form
elements are treated as elinks, so you can jump between form
elements quickly using this.

Other tips :
1. To follow elinks, press enter or press right arrow key.
2. To go back, press the left arrow.
3. To go "forward" or "unhistory" as elinks calls it, press "u"
downlaod any link target using "d"
4. Press '/' to search stuff on the page
5. Use [ and ] to scroll horizontally. Too much text off the
screen? Use 'W' to switch wrapping.
6. Use '<' and '>' to switch between tabs.
7. Press t to open new tab. c to close, Ctrl-r to refresh.
8. Press g for location dialog.
9. Type a number before a shortcut key to repeat that key so
many times. Usefull for jumping 3 steps back in history.
10. Press "h" for history manager
11. Press '\' to see source
12. Press '=' to see info about the current object loaded .. like
13. Press '|' to see response header.
14. press D for download manager.

Squirrelmail and Gmail look good in elinks.

15. Press q to quit.