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Links (web browser)

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Title: Links (web browser)  
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Subject: Comparison of lightweight web browsers, Text-based web browser, History of the web browser, History of Haiku (operating system), QtWeb
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Links (web browser)

Screenshot of a graphical Links
Developer(s) Mikulas Patocka
Initial release 1999
Stable release 2.8[1] (22 September 2013 (2013-09-22))
Preview release none (n/a)
Written in C
Operating system Mac OS X, OS/2, Unix-like, Windows
Type Web browser
License GPLv2+

Links is an open source text and graphic web browser with a pull-down menu system.[2] It renders complex pages, has partial HTML 4.0 support (including tables and frames[3] and support for multiple character sets such as UTF-8), supports color and monochrome terminals and allows horizontal scrolling.

It is oriented toward users who want to retain many typical elements of graphical user interfaces (pop up windows, menus etc.) in a text-only environment.

The original version of Links was developed by Mikulas Patocka in the Czech Republic. His group, Twibright Labs, later developed version 2 of the Links browser, that displays graphics, renders fonts in different sizes (with spatial anti-aliasing) and supports JavaScript (up to version 2.1pre28). The resulting browser is very fast, but it does not display many pages as they were intended. The graphical mode works even on Unix systems without X or any other window environment, using either SVGALib or the framebuffer of the system's graphics card.

Graphics stack

The graphics stack has several peculiarities unusual for a web browser. The fonts displayed by Links are not derived from the system, but compiled into the binary as grayscale bitmaps in PNG format. This allows the browser to be a single executable file independent of the system libraries, however it increases the size of the executable to about 5 MB.

The fonts are anti-aliased without hinting and for small line pitch an artificial sharpening is employed to increase legibility. Subpixel sampling further increases legibility on LCD displays. This allowed Links to have anti-aliased fonts at a time when anti-aliased font libraries were uncommon.

All graphical elements (images and text) are first converted from given gamma space (according to known or assumed gamma information in PNG, JPEG etc.) through known user gamma setting into a 48 bits per pixel photometrically linear space where they are resampled with bilinear resampling to the target size, possibly taking aspect ratio correction into account. Then the data are passed through high-performance restartable dithering engine which is used regardless of monitor bit depth, i. e. also for 24 bits per pixel colour. This Floyd-Steinberg dithering engine takes into account the gamma characteristics of the monitor and uses 768 KiB of dithering tables to avoid time expensive calculations. A technique similar to self-modifying code, function templates, is used to maximize the speed of the dithering engine without using assembler optimization, which is non-portable.

Images which are scaled down also use subpixel sampling on LCD to increase level of detail.

The reason for this high quality processing is: provide proper realistic up/downsampling of images, and photorealistic display regardless of the monitor gamma, without colour fringing caused by 8-bit gamma correction built into the X server. It also increases the perceived colour depth over 24 bits per pixel.

Despite the amount of digital image processing that has to be internally done, Links is one of the fastest graphical web browsers.

Links has graphics drivers for the X Server, Linux framebuffer, svgalib, OS/2 PMShell and AtheOS GUI. This allows it to run in graphics mode even on platforms which don't have X Server.



ELinks ("Experimental/Enhanced Links") is a fork of Links led by Petr Baudis. It is based on Links 0.9. It has a more open development and incorporates patches from other Links versions (such as additional extension scripting in Lua) and from Internet users.

Hacked Links

Hacked Links is another version of the Links browser which has merged some of Elinks' features into Links 2.

Andrey Mirtchovski has ported it to Plan 9. It is considered a good browser on that operating system, though some users have complained about its inability to cut and paste with the Plan 9 snarf buffer.

As of July 2012 the last release of Hacked Links is that of July 9, 2003 with some further changes unreleased.[4]


Linkx is a fork of links2 that bring some of the features of links-hacked (tabs support, ...)


Links was also ported to run on the Sony PSP platform by Rafael Cabezas with the last version (2.1pre23_PSP_r1261) released on February 6, 2007.[5]

The BeOS port was updated by Franc,ois Revol who also added GUI support.[6] It also runs on Haiku.

See also


  1. ^ "ChangeLog". Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Links home page
  3. ^ Legan, Dallas (September 2001), Text-Mode Web Browsers for OS/2, The Southern California OS/2 User Group, retrieved August 16, 2010 
  4. ^ "ChangeLog", Hacked Links Project, October 28, 2003, retrieved July 9, 2012 
  5. ^ "Home / links2", PSPRadio ( 
  6. ^ Revol, Francois (May 3, 2008), BeOS port patch, retrieved July 9, 2012 

External links

  • Official Links homepage at Twibright Labs
  • Links guide and documentation
  • Links Hacked Web Page
  • Links for Mac OS X on PowerPC and Intel
  • PSP Port
  • Linkx fork
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