Follow Redirects with cURL

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I love playing around with cURL. There's something about loading websites via command line that makes me feel like some type of smug hacker, just like tweeting from command line does.

I recently cURL'd the Google homepage and saw the following:

curl google.com

#<HTML><HEAD><meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html;charset=utf-8">
#<TITLE>301 Moved</TITLE></HEAD><BODY>
#<H1>301 Moved</H1>
#The document has moved
#<A HREF="http://www.google.com/">here</A>.
#</BODY></HTML>

I found it weird that Google does the initial redirect but I still want to get the source of the Google homepage with cURL, as with any site that may do a redirect without you noticing. Luckily it's just a single flag:

curl -L google.com

#<!doctype html><html itemscope="" itemtype="http://schema.org/WebPage" lang="en">...

The -L flag instructs cURL to follow any redirect so that you reach the eventual endpoint. Those tiny redirects are just noise anyways, right?

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Discussion

  1. Dan

    Is there a way to do this outside of the command line in PHP?

    • H.Gerber

      The curl-lib in PHP offers an option for that:

      $handle = curl_init();
      ...
      curl_setopt($handle, CURLOPT_FOLLOWLOCATION, true);
      ...
      curl_exec($handle);
      ...
      
    • Jonny

      And if the url is using/forcing https, set this option before executing the curl:

      curl_setopt($handle, CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYPEER, false);
      
    • Robert Munro

      Please don’t do that, unless you really don’t care about the content of the download. It essentially says “Ignore the SSL errors if it’s broken – trust the same as you would an unencrypted URL.”

      The data will still be encrypted, but could be coming from a man-in-the-middle, not from where you thing it’s coming from.

  2. The implementation of curl in PHP has an option for that.

    See the following link:
    http://stackoverflow.com/questions/3519939/make-curl-follow-redirects

  3. A

    if you liked curl, you’ll love lynx..

  4. I hit an issue with not following redirects myself, but this was a download from a GitHub release download that was redirecting to a S3 bucket. Broke a CLI out in the wild…

    In this case, I’m not sure it’s noise (to get at your closing question). I was intentionally not following redirects, as one should not expect this to be happening with GitHub downloads…

    I have a support ticket in to see what’s up with this very recent change. Maybe it was a DevOops?

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