I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m a bit of a command line junkie.  Yeah, that means I use Vi for the fun of it and find chmod quicker and more intuitive than screwing around with an info window in Finder.  Most tech-savvy users are familiar with a few commands from the command line, perhaps they can move from directory to directory and view contents… maybe even move some stuff around!  Heck, I know some others who’s only use for command line is to update sources that they have checked out of a Subversion repository.

But there’s one tool that’s fascinated me for some time.  That old reliable web-browser called Lynx.  No, it wasn’t the first web browser, and it didn’t do much of anything special.. it does something perhaps more unique than being the bleeding-edge.  What’s more special than brand new technology and features?  Try, for one, the fact that it just works when you need it to.

That’s not to say that I enjoy the experience of navigating Lynx, it can be rather painful in a somewhat elegant way.  It takes the tab key’s use in the modern-day browser from ‘optional hot key’ to ‘mandatory tool’, which is cool for the command line folk like myself.  Of course I’d rather be ankle-high in Firefoxes and Safaris (and dare I say, Internet Explorers?), but the luxury of such overwhelmingly good web browsers is not always available (like in a terminal, for instance).

So what do I do when I’m remotely connected to a server that needs Perl modules installed?  Well, normally I would start up one of these fancy browsers that we have here in 2009  and hit up the Webmin panel that I tend to install on a good number of machines that I touch.  From there, it’s less than five minutes to install whatever module I need rather than waiting for the sometimes clunky cpan shell to do its thing.  Unfortunately for me, however, this particular machine has not had the appropriate ports opened to it yet, so that Webmin installation is useless to me as it stands.

Wait!  I know!  Lynx supports the HTTPS protocol, maybe I can log into the target machine’s panel via Lynx over SSH?  Well, why shouldn’t it work?  In fact, it does, and five minutes later, Email::Send::SMTP::TLS as well as all of its dependencies were installed and ready to go.  How’s that for easy?

Installing a Perl module through the localhost's installed Webmin

Installing a Perl module through the localhost's installed Webmin

So what’s the point of this post?  There is none… Hopefully someone might come across this and find it useful in their moment of despair.  Perhaps someone else just added a new tool to their arsenal.  There’s also the far-off possibility that some new Mac user out there is now interested in what’s hiding under their shiny Snow Leopard and is going to open Terminal for the first time after reading this.  Yeah, that last one’s probably a long shot.