Browse the web from the commandline

Call it a form of insurance but I like to have a command-line web browser installed in case anything goes wrong with either Firefox or the entire GUI system. I can then look-up help and solutions from a virtual console, or just check the news while I'm waiting for things to get better.

Command-line browsers are pretty primitive. There are no images, for example, or even color. The page design always gets mangled. In other words, they're not for use all the time, unless you're a masochist. Or a command-line fanatic.

There are two competing text-mode browsers—links and lynx. links is perhaps the better of the two (see Figure 3.7, on the next page) because it understands frames and thus gets the layout of pages slightly more correct, but both are only a download away via Synaptic.6

Once either program has started, hit (g to enter a URL (with lynx you'll also need to type http:// if the address doesn't start with www). Once the page has loaded, use (Page Up and (Page Down to scroll the page. Use the up/down cursor keys to cycle through each link on screen until you find the one you want, and then hit [Enter] to follow it. To go back a page, hit the left cursor key. To download a file that's linked to,

6. While installing links, you might see something called links2, which seems to promise image support. It does! Sadly, this won't work on Ubuntu because the necessary frame buffer graphics mode isn't activated for reasons of overall system stability.

Create an "Ubuntu install" USB stick M 88

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Figure 3.7: Links (see Tip 30, on the previous page)

highlight the link and hit [d]. You can search for words using forward slash (/), in the same way as with man pages (see Tip 167, on page 204). Hitting [Esc] in Links will cause a rudimentary menu to appear—use the cursor keys to navigate and hit [Enter] to select a menu option. Once you're done, hit @ to quit the program.

If links is used in a terminal window you'll be able to click on each link using your mouse. If gpm is installed (see Tip 233, on page 276), you'll have rudimentary mouse control over the browser and can click on links in a virtual console window.

Create an "Ubuntu insta stick




If you don't fancy carrying the delicate Ubuntu Installation CD around with you, you can copy its contents to a USB key stick and use that to install Ubuntu onto computers (provided those computers can boot from USB, and most modern computers will be able to).

This is also a handy way of creating a portable USB installation of

Ubuntu on a small USB key (ie 1/2GB) for use on other computers (if you have a larger USB memory stick, see Tip 305, on page 355). The only problem is that the system software can't be updated, and you'll always be running as root user, because that's how the live distro mode of the install CD operates.

This tip is only relevant for users of Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) or below. Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) has built-in tools to install to create an installer USB key stick. [[Author: Due in Intrepid and marked as a high priority-see I can't provide instructions or even details because it's not completed yet!]]

To make the process easier, a member of the Ubuntu community created the fantastic Liveusb software that will entirely automate the creation of a USB install stick. To install it, first add his software repository— click System ^ Administration ^ Software Sources, select the Third-Party Software in the window that appears, and then click the Add button. Then type the following into the APT line text field:

deb hardy main

Click OK, then the Close button in the parent dialog box, and then click to reload the list of packages when prompted. Then use Synaptic to search for and install liveusb. You'll be told the package isn't authenticated but this is fine.

Insert the USB stick, insert your Ubuntu install CD, and then start the program by clicking System ^ Administration ^ Install Live USB. In the Options section, you can select to install Flash player on the USB stick, and also whether you want to make the USB stick "persistent", which is to say, any files you save after booting from it will stick around, rather than being wiped each boot.

Note that a bug in the Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron installation CD means that it is impossible to activate persistent mode on the USB key stick. This has been fixed in the Ubuntu 8.04.1 install CD.

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