Browsh web gif

A CLI browser that can play videos…

I woke up today to find my Twitter feed chok full of praise for something called Browsh.

It’s a brand new, modern text-based web browser built for the command line.

Yes, I did just say a text browser.

And yes, the year is still 2018.

So what’s got the geeks I follow gushing over something so terrifically niche? Let’s find out…

Browsh is a Text Based Browser

If I asked you to think of a text browser you’d think of Lynx. It is arguably the best known text browser out there, not to mention one of the oldest web browsers that is still under both active use and development.

You can even watch YouTube videos in Browsh

But Lynx is very much of its era. It was made for the web that was and not the web that is.

Which is where Browsh comes in.

Browsh supports HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, and (amazingly) video, photos and WebGL content. It’s cross platform, open-source.

The only hard requirement is that you need to have a recent version of Firefox installed (v57 or later). Why? Because Browsh uses Firefox to fetch web pages, then pass it the necessary bits via a web extension, so it can render the page in low-fi glory.

If you often compute in an X-less environment then this browser could very well become your new best friend.

Yes, it displays graphics & videos

What makes Browsh rather unique is that it can render images and videos — just don’t expect miracles.

Graphics (including video) appear super pixellated. This is because Browsh uses (to quote its own website) the “UTF-8 half-block trick (▄) to get 2 colours from every character cell” to simulate basic graphics.

Everything is, technically, a character.

Below is a screenshot of how an article on this website looks when fetched with Browsh:

Browsh viewing a web page

How OMG! Ubuntu! articles look in Brow.sh

It’s cute, but is it useful?

Given that images are pixellated to the point where they’re indecipherable the browser could help readers out by relaying/displaying alt tags and image title text. Just a thought.

Bandwidth & SSH

Browsh is designed to be more than a geek curio. According to its developer the point of the browser is to “significantly reduce bandwidth [and] increase browsing speeds.”

Given that it relies on Firefox to fetch web page assets and pass them to the app, the bandwidth point seems moot, but you could have it running on one server and then access it on another.

In fact, you can demo that out by running:

ssh brow.sh

For the full how, what and whys of this unique little browser head over to the Browsh website.

For a more comprehensive look at all Browsh’s features, including a glimpse at the browser playing a YouTube video, check out this video:

Download Browsh for Ubuntu (and other OSes)

Browsh might be the geekiest, nerdiest, and flat-out-awesomiest app in a while.

If you’re on the hunt for a (mostly) text only browser then you should definitely check it out. And if you’re not? You should definitely check it out too.

You can find the source code for Browsh over on Github should you want to get involved, check it over, or report any issues.

Binary downloads and Ubuntu installers are also available on the website if you want to install it locally.

Browsh itself is a tiny download and is very easy to install on Ubuntu:

Download Browsh

H/T Julius