Quick Tips: Lynx


  • What is Lynx?
  • What commands does Lynx use to link to Web pages?
  • What does a World Wide Web page look like in Lynx?
  • How can I find out what a Web page's URL is in Lynx?
  • How can I stop loading a Web page that is taking too long?
  • What is HTML?
  • How do you search a particular Web page for desired terms in Lynx?
  • Try Lynx for yourself!

    What is Lynx?

    Lynx is a text-based World Wide Web browser and is aptly named. It is the browser that literally allows one to jump from *link* to *link* in a sequential fashion. A *link* is an ingenious method to transfer the user from a file on one computer to a file on that same computer [OR on a computer anywhere else in the world] while still on the Web.

    *Following a link* literally tells the computer that you are finished with reading the Web page (file) which is currently displayed on your computer screen and instead you wish to read a different file, which is located at the address embedded within the link itself. You do not have to tell the computer where to go to retrieve the file you wish to see - the link contains this information and so does it for you! This particular bit of *computer magic* is what makes the World Wide Web so easy to use.

    Lynx was also the browser that I learned to use first. Think of Lynx as a standard-transmission car (yes, the one with the clutch and stick shift!). Lynx is bare-bones basic but gets the job done with no frills. Once you have Lynx down, those graphical browsers (like Netscape) will be like cars with automatic transmission. You know, the *point [the car] and go* kind!

    TIP: Whenever you are about to begin a session on the World Wide Web, make sure that you have a blank piece of paper and a pen (or pencil) handy first. (You will find out why I recommend this shortly.)

    Every Lynx Web page has the following on the bottom of each page:

    Commands: Use arrow keys to move, '?' for help, 'q' to quit, '<-' to go back. Arrow keys: Up and Down to move. Right to follow a link; Left to go back. H)elp O)ptions P)rint G)o M)ain screen Q)uit /=search [delete]=history list

    You will not need to use your mouse while using Lynx. Instead, you tell Lynx what you want to do by typing in your commands.

    TIP:There are often two or more ways to give the same command when using computer programs. I will try in my TIPS to let you know when there is more than one way to accomplish giving the same command because sometimes it is good to know all the right answers. So this is why you will see EITHER __ OR suggestions.

    What commands does Lynx use to link to Web pages?

    TIP:On any Web page, you can do any one of the following four actions:
    1) follow the links [which are shaded by highlight, represented as BRACKETS] on that page to another site by putting the cursor on a link and hitting [EITHER the right arrow key OR the return key].

    *Words in plain type are NOT links.
    *Use your DOWN ARROW to move from link to link, progressing from left to right *down* a page.
    *If you overshoot, use your UP ARROW to go back *up* link by link until you get to the one you wanted.

    2) or you can hit M for Main and return to your *home page*from anywhere on the Web, with one command, no matter how many pages you have viewed since the last time you were there. (Read more about *home pages* below.)

    3) or you can hit the LEFT ARROW key to go *back* to the previous Web page (which you had just linked from).
    *This is true even after you just hit M to go back to Main.The LEFT ARROW key will take you straight back to wherever on the Web you were before!

    (To go back further quickly in Lynx, hit the "delete" key to bring up the "history list" page.)

    4) or you can enter a Web address of your own choosing called a *URL* (to go to a page not linked from that Web page).

    A World Wide Web address is called a *URL* for Universal Resource Locator. You can think of URLs like postal addresses. Instead of having several lines for street address, city, state, and zip code, a URL is all one line and contains similar information. Here is a sample URL and what it means:

    Read right to left, this is an address for a Web page in the United States which happens to be a page in the state of Texas. It also happens to belong to a library. In fact, that library's initials are *hpl* for Houston Public Library. The name of the machine on which the page resides is *sparc*. This is the World Wide Web address for the Houston Public Library Web site. (More about URLs in Quick Tips: Ready Reference on the Web.)

    I decided that I wanted type in a Web address not linked from this page. So I typed in *G* for *Go*. Lynx then asked for the address which I wanted it to use to take me to this page with this prompt:

    URL to open:
    TIP: Whenever you see a request for a URL, the Universal Resource Locator usually begin with the letters *http://*. So, for practical purposes, remember that URL = http:// To get this prompt in Lynx, type *G*.

    The URL which I typed in at the prompt is for my World Wide Web home page.

    URL to open: http://clever.net/cam/maf.html

    *Home* pages are the World Wide Web equivalent of one's business card (and often one's product catalog for corporations) and one's recommended links. It is your opportunity to say to the world at large *Here is who I am, what I am interested in, and what I have to offer you*.

    Private individuals, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies all have home pages. All that is required is access to one's own Web space. (I would not have a home page were it not for the fact that my fiance and I have our own commercial Web site for which we pay *rent* on a regular basis. More people have email accounts than have actual Web pages as well.)

    My home page is likely atypical for the average individual's home page because mine is intended as a working reference librarian's home page. Here I keep links to sites I find useful in doing everyday ready reference work. (I keep most of my links to sites only of interest to me on the *home page* of my actual computer at home, not accessible via the Web.)

    What does a World Wide Web page look like in Lynx?

    This is how the first part of my home page looks in Lynx:

    Margaret's Home Page (p1 of 13)
    [Photo of Clif and Margaret]
    ... (elipse for lots of stuff skipped for the moment)
    -- press space for next page --

    Note that it says *page 1 of 13* after the title of the page. Lynx is letting me know here that there were twelve additional screens for this Web page.

    Now look at another portion of my home page, as seen in Lynx. It shows the term [Photo of Clif and Margaret]. Here Lynx is telling me that there was a graphic. This particular graphic happens to be the photograph of myself and my fiance. It is the only graphic on my Web page. (If I had not known what the graphic was already, Lynx would not have told me UNLESS it had an alt tag, which this one does. If the graphic had not had an alt tag, it might have said [INLINE] or [IMAGE] instead and left me none the wiser.)

    TIP: To see the next screen, press the SPACE BAR to follow this link to the next screen.

    If I decide on page four that I want to go back to page three, I use my LEFT ARROW KEY to go *back*.

    Now, I wish to go from my home page to the search engine AltaVista's page and see what it looks like in Lynx. I can do this by using my DOWN ARROW KEY to move from link to link on my home page until AltaVista is highlighted. Then I hit the return key (OR I could hit the RIGHT ARROW KEY) to *follow this link* to AltaVista's page.

    ..........................................................AltaVista: Main Page
       [AltaVista Search]
       Search [the Web] for documents in [any language]
       [(*)]search [( )]refine [Submit]
       [Help] . [Preferences] . [New Search] . [Advanced Search]
                        AltaVista em [Portugujs] y en [Espaqol]
       [Our Network] | [Add/Remove URL] | [Feedback] | [Help]
       [Advertising Info] | [About AltaVista] | [Jobs] | [Graphics]
       [Disclaimer] | [Privacy Statement]
       [DIGITAL] Copyright 1997. All Rights Reserved
    [(NORMAL LINK)   Use right-arrow or  to activate.]
      Arrow keys: Up and Down to move. Right to follow a link; Left to go back.
     H)elp O)ptions P)rint G)o M)ain screen Q)uit /=search [delete]=history list

    The words in brackets are the links which may be followed. The cursor starts on the first such, the one which says *AltaVista Search*.
    TIP: Keep an eye on the line above the *Arrow keys: Up and Down to move* etc. line. This is where Lynx give you hints about what it expects you to do. In this example, it is stating that the cursor is on an active or *normal* link which can be followed by either hitting the RIGHT ARROW KEY OR hitting the RETURN KEY.

    *If you are ever confused about where the cursor is or what you are supposed to do now, check this hint line.

    View your Web page through Lynx 2.6
    Ode to Lynx

    How can I find out what a Web page's URL is in Lynx?

    Let us say now that I just followed a link from some page but I did not know what its actual URL was. I had liked this AltaVista page and wanted to know how to find this useful search engine again.

    TIP:Hitting the = [equals] key brings up the page's URL (listed right under Linkname and before Owner(s)).

    Information about the current document
    Lynx Version 2-4-2

    File that you are currently viewing
    Linkname: AltaVista: Main Page
    URL: http://www.altavista.digital.com/
    Owner(s): None
    size: 33 lines
    mode: forms mode

    Link that you currently have selected
    Linkname: [ AltaVista]
    http://www.altavista.digital.com/cgi-bin/query?pg=tmpl&v=about. html
    Commands: Use arrow keys to move, '?' for help, 'q' to quit, '<-' to go back.
    Arrow keys: Up and Down to move. Right to follow a link; Left to go back.
    H)elp O)ptions P)rint G)o M)ain screen Q)uit /=search [delete]=history list

    Remember when I told you in the beginning to have a pen and paper handy? Here you can take notes and write down the URL for this search engine's page. (If you write it down, you can always directly return to it by typing *G* for GO and getting the URL prompt.)(More about search engines in Quick Tips: Ready Reference on the Web.)
    Yes, Lynx does have bookmarks, too, depending on your version of Lynx. (For more information about bookmarks, see Quick Tips: Netscape)

    How can I stop loading a Web page that is taking too long?

    Let us say that I now want to go to a different Web page. I type in *G* for Go and type in the URL for this page when the prompt comes up. However, something goes wrong and I wait and wait and wait and Lynx appears to be stuck.

    TIP: Press the 'z' key at any time during a connect or transfer process and the process will be halted. If any data was transferred before the interrupt, it will be displayed.

    Now, on to the remaining commands at the bottom of each Lynx screen.

    H)elp O)ptions P)rint G)o M)ain screen Q)uit /=search [delete]=history list

    We've already covered *Go* and *Main*. Here are what some of the other screens look like.

    TIP: If you type ? [OR H for *Help*], this will bring up the following screen:

    Help! - Press the Left arrow key to exit help

    Choose a subject
    * About Lynx
    * Lynx Users Guide
    * Key-stroke commands
    * Help on HTML
    * HTML Quick Reference Guide
    * Help on URL's

    What is HTML?

    TIP: HTML as shown in the HELP MENU refers to HyperText Markup Language. (For a sample page of HTML code, see Quick Tips: Netscape.)

    HTML is a language that gives commands to the computer such as to draw a horizontal line here or center this headline there, etc.

    A URL tells the computer to use http (hypertext transmission protocol) to reference the search engine AltaVista's Web site, that is to link the user so that the user can actually use the search engine at the AltaVista page. You do not need to know how to compose HTML. But it is useful to recognize it when you see it. It also tells the computer when something needs to be in larger type, like a paragraph heading or subheading. Think of it as an editing tool.

    TIP: Here is the Options Menu from the Lynx command line (what you get when you type *O*).

    Options Menu (Lynx Version 2-4-2)

    E)ditor : NONE
    D)ISPLAY variable : NONE
    B)ookmark file : lynx_bookmarks.html
    F)TP sort criteria : By Filename
    P)ersonal mail address : NONE
    S)earching type : CASE INSENSITIVE
    C)haracter set : ISO Latin 1
    V)I keys : OFF
    e(M)acs keys : OFF
    K)eypad as arrows or Numbered links: Numbers act as arrows
    preferred lan(G)uage : en
    U)ser mode : Novice
    Select capital letter of option line, '>' to save, or 'r' to return to Lynx.

    TIP: Lynx has more than one level. It automatically starts up in Novice User Mode. (Intermediate User Mode turns off the help lines. Advanced User Mode not only turns off the help lines but displays the URL of the link on the bottom of the screen. I recommend staying with the Novice User Mode until you are well used to Lynx.If you make changes to the options, type *>* to save the changes. Then type *r* to return to Lynx.

    TIP: Type P to see the Print Menu. Printing involves either saving the file or sending it as email. Again, here it depends on your version of Lynx.

    Lynx Printing Options

    There are 76 lines, or approximately 2 pages, to print.
    You have the following print choices.
    Please select one:

    Save to a local file
    Mail the file
    Print to the screen

    Commands: Use arrow keys to move, '?' for help, 'q' to quit, '<-' to go back.
    Arrow keys: Up and Down to move. Right to follow a link; Left to go back.
    H)elp O)ptions P)rint G)o M)ain screen Q)uit /=search

    How do you search (or "find") a particular Web page for desired terms in Lynx?

    TIP: You can also hit the / [slash key] and search a Web page for a particular term. Lynx responds to the / with the following:

    Enter a search string:

    This can save time if you know that the term appears on the selected page but is further down on a subsequent screen. It is a fast way to skip over screens to get to the part of the linked page that you are interested in.
    TIP: When you are ready to stop, type q for Quit at any Web page. (This is equivalent to *exit* for other programs.) Lynx is very polite and will ask *Are you sure you want to quit?*, unless you type Q as a CAPITAL LETTER. (In that case, it just quits immediately.) Type *y* for yes and you are out.

    Lynx is fast, even if the screen is somewhat more difficult to read. (It becomes easier to read with practice.) The most difficult part is getting used to figuring out where on the screen the cursor is. Once you have that down, Lynx is a snap!

    Try Lynx yourself!

    Telnet to this address: telnet://lynx.cc.ukans.edu

    Follow the instructions on the screen and type lynx at the login prompt. Hit the enter key when you get the password prompt. This procedure allows you to anonymously login and use the Lynx browser at the University of Kansas (which, of course, developed Lynx in the first place). When you are done, type q (for Quit). Lynx will politely ask you if you are sure and you either type Y (for yes) or hit the enter key. The telnet session then logs out.

    Or, if your browser automatically calls up your telnet program when presented with a telnet URL, simply follow this link to login at the University of Kansas and experience Lynx for yourself!

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    Last Modified: 8/2/98