How Do I Get On-Line?: Internet Software

Read at your own risk

This document dates from the early web period, and is kept for archival purposes only. It is no longer updated, and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate.
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Once you have your Internet connection, you need to do something with it. An Internet connection is a lot like water pipes. Unless you also have a sink or a shower or a bath, it doesn’t do you much good. The sinks, shower, and bath on the Internet are your web browser, your e-mailsoftware, and your Usenet newsreader.

The ‘web browser’ is your kitchen sink. It holds all the dirty stuff you don’t know what to do with. All the information on the net is generally available on ‘web pages’, and you need a web browser to view these web pages. There are three major web browsers out there: Netscape, Internet Explorer, and Lynx. Lynx is text-only. It does not display images or movies, nor does it play sound, which is probably a good part of why you got your Internet connection in the first place. It does display the text of the net very well, however, so if you are blind (the Macintosh version of Lynx can read web pages to you out loud), have a slow computer, or have other special needs, Lynx is a very good choice to look into.

In general, however, Netscape and Explorer are the choices you’re looking at. Both of these packages are huge pieces of software. If you already have one of them, I recommend sticking with it. Both work pretty much the same. Netscape might be a little more reliable; Explorer has a few more features. But for just looking at web pages, either one will work fine.

If you’re on a slower net connection, you might find Explorer’s ability to turn off what are called ‘frames’ a useful feature. You might also find that Explorer’s long-term memory of where you’ve been recently is better than Netscape’s.

If you decide to make your own web page on the net, you might find Netscape Communicator’s built-in web page editor useful. If you read Usenet news (and you should) you might find Netscape’s built-in newsreader useful. I would recommend getting a specialized newsreader, however, in the long run.

Electronic mail is how you communicate with other individuals on the net. You’ll need electronic mail software to read and send electronic mail (e-mail) messages. The best choice is most likely Eudora: the free version is great software, and if you need even more features, you can upgrade to the commercial version.

• Freeware: Lynx

• Netscape’s Navigator

• Microsoft’s InternetExplorer

• Qualcomm’s Eudora

You can look for other software at Download.Com. There is a lot of free, shareware, and public domain software available there for ‘downloading’, that is, for transferring from their computer to your computer. I also have my own list of recommended Internet software.

  1. How Do I Get On-Line?
  2. Shell Logins