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What are good command line HTTP clients?

Command-Line InterfaceThe whole is greater than the sum of its parts is a very famous quote from Aristotle, a Greek philosopher and scientist. This quote is particularly pertinent to Linux. In my view, one of Linux’s biggest strengths is its synergy. The usefulness of Linux doesn’t derive only from the huge raft of open source (command line) utilities. Instead, it’s the synergy generated by using them together, sometimes in conjunction with larger applications.

The Unix philosophy spawned a “software tools” movement which focused on developing concise, basic, clear, modular and extensible code that can be used for other projects.

This philosophy remains an important element for many Linux projects.

Good open source developers writing utilities seek to make sure the utility does its job as well as possible, and work well with other utilities. The goal is that users have a handful of tools, each of which seeks to excel at one thing. Some utilities work well independently.

This article looks at 4 open source command line HTTP clients. These clients let you download files over the internet from the command line. But they can also be used for many more interesting purposes such as testing, debugging and interacting with HTTP servers and web applications. Working with HTTP from the command-line is a worthwhile skill for HTTP architects and API designers. If you need to play around with an API, HTTPie and curl will be invaluable.

Here’s our rating chart. We strongly recommend them all.


Now, let’s explore the 4 tools at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.

Command line HTTP clients
HTTPieCommand line interface, cURL-like tool for humans
aria2Multi-protocol and multi-source command-line download utility
curlCommand line tool for transferring data with URL syntax. Transfer library too
WgetRetrieves content from web servers
Return to our complete collection of recommended free and open source software including our latest additions. And we have written these series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts.
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