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Lynx Basic Configuration

by Burt Henry for the Vinux Project


Lynx has been around since the early 1990's making it one of the oldest browsers still in active development. While lynx sticks to an oldschool asthetic with its text-based keyboard shortcut driven interface and edieditable plain text configuration files it is still well suited for browsing much of todays world wide web. In this article we will quickly look at important options that a user should consider configuring for an efficient and comfortably accessible Lynx experience. By default lynx has two main configuration files. We will be concerning ourselves with the user specific lynxrc file found in the users home directory as ~/.lynxrc. The global configuration file found in /etc/lynx-cur on Ubuntu and Vinux systems must be directly edited, but our user specific ~/.lynxrc is normally configured with a menu of check boxes, radio buttons and editable fields that I will explain here.

Getting Started

Before starting make sure you have Speakup in cursoring-on mode. You can cycle between modes with control-capslock 8 or with the numpad * (star, (multiply)), key. The other mode that is most used is highlight tracking, but for current tasks cursoring-on is what you want. If you have not openned links type links at your console now. You should expect to hear looking up and other information including data transferred. You can also start with lynx to go directly to Google. Lynx will do some guessing if you haven't requested a valid URL, i.e try .com, .net .org etc.

Basic Configuration

Type 'o' for options, this opens a two page menu that allows the user to change how they interact with lynx, how content is displayed and more. Lynx will either forget the changes you make when you close the browser, or any changes you have made can be made default by check 'save options to dis, found near the top of the first page just below 'accept changes' and 'reset changes', which you will need to use later.

Enter on an item to open up a list of options, or change a value from on to off. Entering on your choice will select it and close the options for that item.

The first option that you will want to consider is just below the write to disk checkbox, and selects between novice, intermediate, and advanced modes. The difference is seen at the bottom of webpages. The novice mode is default for standard Ubuntu and Debian installations of Lynx. It will display three lines of help at the bottom of each web page. The intermediate mode cuts this down to just a few keystrokes that are shown on one line. The advanced option gives the URL for the page you are on, but only a short part fits on a single line. You can always get help, so we recommend changing from novice mode after your first few Lynx sessions to increase space available for displaying actual content, but of course this is a personal choice.

There are quite a few options that you probably won't want to touch for now as they are not commonly used, or the defaults are best for most people.

A couple items down the menu you find the most important cookie handling option. By default lynx will ask you if you wish to accept cookies as they are offered. You can change this to accept all to save time when web-browsing, or if you never want to use cookies select ignore. There are more cookie handling configuration options that one can configure that will be touched on in a more in debth lynx configuration article. If you want to jump right in, go to the global lynx configuration file in /etc and study the comments. About a half dozen items below the user-mode line is 'keypad mode'. This configuration is perhaps the most important you will make if you are a screenreader user. Enter on the item as always to open up the list of choices available. The default is probably fine for low vision users, but when using a screenreader you will have to do some counting to know what link you are actually on if you don't select one of the numbering options. You can number lllinks, form-fields, or both. Links are spoken together if more than one appears on a line, and as you up or down arrow through them the same link will be spoken more than once if it is not on its own line. For example if Fred's pics, Fred's Blog, and Fred's hate-mail are all links that appear on the same line you will hear all three items spoken together. The first time you hear Fred's Pics, Fred's Blog Fred's hate-mail arrowing down the page you will be on Fred's pics. The next down-arrow will put you on Fred's Blog, and the next on his hate-mail. The next down arrow will announce the next link or links found on the page. This is not hard to do, but it is time consuming, and you will make mistakes sooner or later, so selecting to number links is a really good idea. I prefer numbering links only, and if I up or down arrow to a line where I hear one or more items spoken I know they are editable fields, or other interactive spaces that are not links. You decide whether you want numbers for everything, or if it is easier to just number links. Except for special pages I don't see number form-fields as a useful choice. You can still use the arrows to navigate to a link when they are numbered, but typing the number for a given link will take you directly there ready to enter or use right arrow to go there. You can configure numbers to appear to the left or right of the link so that they will be spoken before or after the link when you edit your lynx.cfg file.

Low-vision folk may wish to select "underline links', but Most folks can skip a few more items and go down to 'show images', where you can select to have the image's URL displayed or a label. you can set images to not even show anything below this, but default is 'show filename' (edit check that last one)

If you plan on using lynx for FTP regularly you may wish to look at those options, and if you like to organize book marks in to folders go on and change this now. If not all bookmarks will been shown in a single folder called ~/lynx_bookmarks.html. You may wish to check auto session. If auto_session=on Then lynx keeps a running history of the webpages and any local files you visit. It is normally disabled. If you don't configure a default file for this a history file called "lynx_session" will be created in the directory where you start lynx. If you start the browser from 5 different directories you will have 5 different history files, each with the uri's visited when the browser was started from that folder; not very convenient for most situations. If you want all of your browsing history in the same file you will have to define it. A line like session_file=/home/dinosaur/.lynx_session needs to be in your ~/.lynxrc file. Of course, change to your username if it's not dinosaur, and like most functions this can be configured globally in your lynxrc file in /etc…

The order of visited pages is best for most people. The last thing you can do before saving your changes or resetting to defaults is go to the lynx.cfg file. It's nicely commented, but pretty large, so don't think you can jump in and out in 2-3 min. if you aren't familiar with it. Best use Lynx a bit and make your system wide changes and more advanced adjustments later. Arrow down once and enter to save your changes, or twice to discard them. Remember that both options will be spoken together, so you must make sure that you are hearing them for the first or second time to make the proper selection. You can review what you've done and make sure you checked, or not, the save to disk box by arrowing up to the top.

lynx_basics.txt · Last modified: 2014/07/13 01:16 by Burt Henry