Browsing the Web in text mode Unix

(What would I come up with next time?!) 😀

Sorin Dolha


As you know if you’ve read my articles of the previous couple of months, I have recently installed NetBSD in a UTM virtual machine (on my M1MacBook Air) “by mistake”.

(That is, in fact, because I just didn’t trust rust installation on my main OS back then, although a later check allowed me to see how it didn’t need sudo rights as I first thought…)

However, now that I have it there, under the list of my virtual machines, I kinda… like it!

(Possibly only because of 40+ years old nostalgia, don’t know for sure.)

But because I’ve got it set up without any desktop environment, i.e. text mode only, I keep having a small annoyance from time to time: whenever I needed to search for something on the Web, I “had” to go back to the host macOS and use Safari app for the job.

(And copying and pasting a result, such some commands to run, actually required ftp-ing files down to the guest OS, oh my.)

Well, not anymore! I’ve just found out that there is the lynx text mode (TUI) browser, and some Japanese competition too (w3m), but the former is older — and nostalgia comes in again, haha — so I went with that.

(If you are wondering, yes, according to Wikipedia, lynx is still maintained in 2022!)

Under NetBSD you can set it up with much ease (under other *nix OSes, should simply try using your preferred package manager instead):

pkgin install lynx

Three packages installed, and you’re ready to navigate the entire world:

Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash


You can also use lynx to download image files from the Web:

lynx -source >example.jpg

and then jp2a tool can easily convert them to [text mode-] ASCII art, as well! 🙃

pkgin install jp2a
jp2a example.jpg



Sorin Dolha

Developer • married, father×2 • Rust, Swift, WPF, Web • founder of DlhSoft • MacBook enthusiast • absurdism • EDM • writing from Cluj