Web Browsers OpenFAQ

What browsers are available for old MSDOS systems?


Although the web arrived in the Microsoft Windows era, there are a few browsers that will work with plain MSDOS. With the notable exception of Net-Tamer and DR-WebSpyder, which are complete solutions, these programs are not for the faint of heart. You must have already solved the problem of obtaining an Internet connection to your MSDOS machine (except with Net-Tamer and DR-WebSpyder). If your computer can run Microsoft Windows 3.1 or better, you would be well advised to look into a Windows browser instead.

Lynx 2.8 for DOS 386+

A fully fledged port of Lynx to DOS. Its author considers the old DosLynx (next entry) to be obsolete now. With appropriate codepage and options settings, it fully supports iso-8859-1 (unlike DosLynx and Minuet).


DosLynx is a text-based browser for use on DOS systems. You must have a level 1 packet driver, or an emulation thereof, or you will only be able to browse local files; essentially, if your PC has an Ethernet connection, or you have SLIP, you should be able to use it. DosLynx can view GIF images, but not when they are inline images. See the README.HTM file at the DosLynx site for details. You can obtain DosLynx by anonymous FTP from ftp2.cc.ukans.edu in the directory pub/WWW/DosLynx; the URL is ftp://ftp2.cc.ukans.edu/pub/WWW/DosLynx/.


An all-in-one Internet access package for MSDOS. Includes both text-mode and graphics-mode display. Available by anonymous FTP from minuet.micro.umn.edu in the directory pub/minuet/latest/minuarc.exe. [NOT available as of 1/29/98, perhaps it will be back -TBB]


David Colston's Net-Tamer is a versatile DOS browser for old XT and 286 machines as well as newer 386 class systems and Personal Data Assistants. The software is a DOS PPP dial up access program, and does not use a TSR packet driver.

It is worth noting that Net-Tamer does more than just access web pages.

  • Will web browse
  • Will get/send email
  • Will get/send usenet messages
  • Will FTP upload/download files
  • Will TELNET to another internet address
  • Will get email and usenet groups, then log off so you can use the included offline reader
  • Will do a download/ upload of mail or usenet on a timer
  • The program is speech friendly to users of talking programs for the visually impaired.
I have extensively used the version for XT/286 class computers and non-HP PDA's on a 12 MHz 286 clone, primarily to read and compose email and usenet messages, but also for FTP and rudimentary web browsing. The FTP capabilities are good, and the Web browser functions well on an heritage PC. Images may be downloaded and viewed off-line.

Two additional versions are available for 386 and higher PCs, and for HP Palmtops. I have tried the 386 version, which does provide in-line image viewing capabilites. Further details for all three versions are available on the Net-Tamer home Page.

Download from Net-Tamer Home Page. The URL is: http://people.delphi.com/davidcolston/index.html


Arachne is an interesting project - a DOS-based graphical browser with a somewhat funky user interface. The character code support wasn't even correct for iso-8859-1, in spite of the browser using its own fonts; but in other respects it seemed an interesting project and well worth trying on the class of machine that could only run DOS. Shareware.


WebSpyder is Caldera's DOS based browser. Supposedly it's based on Arachne, and in some ways looks similar. Its requirements are 4MB of RAM and a 386. It comes with its own dialer so no external TCP/IP stack is needed. It does graphics (jpg, gif, animated) tables and HTML 3.2. It doesn't have javascript or Java. It also has an email client for DOS. I've experimented with it a bit and it's a pretty good piece of work. You can get a free evaluation copy from Caldera since they are hoping to sell this for embedded kiosk type systems. It works with MS and DR flavours of DOS.
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