Old Lynx confused on a brave new Web?

Many users have complained about their ISP's refusing to upgrade Lynx, despite repeated requests. The Lynx user community is concerned about members who do not have access to current versions of Lynx, which are essential to make effective use of the web since both HTML (as used in most documents) and HTTP have changed so much over the past couple of years.

This document is an attempt to outline some of the techniques one can use to plead, cajole and threaten a sysadmin into upgrading an antique version of Lynx to something like 2.7, with all the bells and whistles. If you want to see what other ISPs are offering, take a look at our report on ISPs and Lynx.

This page is inspired by, and based on *helping users get lynx upgraded gregory j. rosmaita's <oedipus@hicom.net> message to Lynx-Dev and Lynx-Learners.

Your arsenal of arguments

These are the arguments you might want to use to convince your ISP they need to upgrade Lynx.

  1. There is no other browser out there that is as conscientiously, frequently, and responsibly updated, patched, and improved as is lynx.
  2. Due to the increasingly graphical nature of the web, i.e. the increasingly ubiquitous use of tables, frames, etc., upgrading lynx is a necessity, not a luxury.
  3. Equal access is the law; that, if an ISP offers shell accounts, then its failure to provide users with a text-based alternative that allows them access to the web on a par with graphical browsers is a blatant and untenable violation of the A.D.A.
  4. Be persistent, be very persistent. Send your sysadmin mail every so often, get other concerned users to send mail to them as well. Call up your sysadmin, explain the issues to them, tell them about the legal issues involved, ask them to check out the new Lynxes at the public Lynx sites. Tell them they're listed under our ISP list and that other Lynx users know they're to be avoided. And when things come through, thank them profusely and tell us about them so we can give them a big hug.

Many blind users have quoted their ISPs using the following argument as an excuse not to upgrade:

well, according to what you've sent me, lynx 2.7 has already had a couple of bugfixes, so i'm not sure i want to upgrade to something so unstable when we've had no problems with 2.4.2

What you need to make clear to your ISP is that the nature of the web today almost makes it necessary that software be upgraded every so often. In many cases, "bugs" are nothing more than corrections made to comply with the more widely used browsers (such as Netscape), and not necessarily a result of instability in Lynx itself. If anything recent versions of Lynx are more stable than their ancestors. In fact, the 100's of Kilobytes of CHANGES files since 2.4.2 are largely documentations of "bug-fixes".

Since Lynx is freeware, the developer community has no problems with calling improvements bug-fixes. A corporation has incentives that would make them call it an 'upgrade' or 'enhancement'. Or perhaps lead them to say something as silly as "our software has no bugs that any significant number of user's want corrected". The Lynx developers are extremely responsive, and requests by the user community are considered, and more often than not find their way into Lynx as improvements, or "bug-fixes".

Still Lynx is not free of bugs (or unintended "featureisms") just like other pieces of software as complex as Lynx. In the vast number of developers and the strength of the knowledgeable user-community, Lynx has one of the most resourceful support structures around for any software.

Lynx links | *Subir Grewal | lynx-upgrades@trill-home.com.