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The history and evolution of the Links browsers

There is quite a lot of Links flavors around. Why isn't there just one Links? The reasons for this are many. One of the most important is the different approaches taken by the various teams towards development, such as coding style. Another is disagreement about what should be included in a browser.

The different flavors

Links-0.9x (Text mode)

The original Links was written by Mikulas Patocka. Links 0.9x is still maintained by Mikulas, but from 0.98 on, no new features are accepted, only bug-fixes and translation updates.

ELinks (Text mode)

The ELinks branching point was 0.96. The development of the original Links had stopped for a few months at that version and Petr Baudis (pasky) started to maintain a patch-set on top of the original Links, known between historians as the -pb patches. These are ELinks' ancestors. You will find some of ELinks' oldest features and bug-fixes there in separate patches.

Eventually this led to the first fork of Links. The etymology of the name ELinks was originally Experimental Links (because of various plans and ideas) and now it is something between Extended and Enhanced ;-).

One of the ELinks goals is of course to provide the best and most usable text-mode web browser. However, another goal is to provide a very fast but clean, structured, and complete web rendering engine (that's ELusive). And yet another goal is to provide a tiny, fast but powerful graphics browser, where the relation Links -> ELinks could evolve into Links2 -> ELinks. These goals should be accomplished using a more open development form than the original Links had.

All fixes from Links 0.9x which are still relevant for ELinks (code that is still present in some form and for which the functionality hasn't been superseded) are merged. Given the status of 0.9x, this means 90% of the patches are ported.

Links-Lua (Text mode)

Links-Lua was a fork of the Links web browser with the goal of adding Lua scripting capabilities in order to make Links more flexible and customisable. It was written by Peter Wang and Cliff Cunnington and later merged with ELinks.

Links-2.x (Text and graphics modes)

Derived from Links-0.92, Links version 2 provides, in addition to the original text mode browser, a fast graphics browser that runs on X11, the Linux console framebuffer, and other environments. It also includes some JavaScript support and some changes ported from later 0.9x releases (but not all; e.g. you won't find key-binding support in 2.x).

It is mainly developed and maintained by Mikulas Patocka, Petr Kulhavy, Karel Kulhavy and Martin Pergel as a project under Twibright Labs. The development approach is somewhat more reserved, due to lack of time and more care taken towards keeping the released code bug-free and the features to a minimum. Discussion list is links-list.

Hacked Links Project AKA Links-hacked (Text and graphics modes)

A patched version of Links2 from Sergey Karpov. Hacked Links seems to be providing the experimental merge point of the Links browsers using stuff from both Links2 and ELinks mixed with some of Sergey Karpov's own innovations. (Not bad for a guy who still calls himself an astro-physicist. ;)

There is general agreement on moving Hacked Links towards ELinks feature-wise but it is unknown when or if this will ever happen.

Additional info

You might also find interesting info on the meta Links site maintained by Cliff Cunnington.

Last Modified: 10-Nov-2008 00:39:11 EEST. Validate: CSS XHTML.