Web Browsers

5 Best Free and Open Source Console Web Browsers

A web browser is the quintessential desktop application. Everyone needs one, and there is not a desktop Linux distribution around that does not make a web browser available.

This type of software application is responsible for retrieving and presenting information held on the World Wide Web, a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the internet. Web browsers allow users to view web pages which often contain a mixture of text, images, videos, and other multimedia.

The vast majority of Linux users would never be satisfied without access to a graphical user interface.

However, even in 2023 there remain many reasons why console based applications can be extremely desirable.

Although console applications are very useful for updating, configuring, and repairing a system, their benefits are not only confined to system administration. Console based applications are light on system resources (very useful on low spec machines), can be faster and more efficient than their graphical counterparts, they do not stop working when X/Wayland needs to be restarted, and they are great for scripting purposes.

In the vast majority of situations running a graphical web browser is preferable. But there are still use cases for console web browsers. For example, if you’re present at a location with only very slow internet connection (e.g. tethered from a cell phone), a console web browser may be useful as it’ll render pages faster. And given that console based web browsers don’t process JavaScript, they use fewer CPU resources. Users with visual impairment or partial blindness may find console web browsers helpful as they are easier to integrate with text-to-speech software.

Here’s our verdict captured in a legendary LinuxLinks-style ratings chart. They are all free and open source software.

Ratings chart for the best free and open source console web browsers

Console Web Browsers
ewwEmacs Web Wowser. It's integrated into Emacs, the famous text editor
LynxLegendary web browser that's still maintained
ELinksAdvanced and well-established feature-rich browser. Extend with Lua or Guile
w3mBrowser and terminal pager
LinksText and graphic web browser with pull-down menu system

Browsh is worthy of a mention. It’s technically not a web browser as it uses a headless version of Mozilla Firefox to fetch and parse web pages.

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Jon Cates
Jon Cates
3 years ago

What about Vim?

4 months ago

browsh seems pretty nice. It just happens to use headless Firefox but does so in a really effective, cli-only way. Still actively being worked on.

Line Mode Browser (last update 6 years ago) so maybe too old to include here?