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My Gopher server

 

February 6 2012

As a geek, I sometimes have an interest in technologies and forms of communication which have little or no real-world monetary value today. One of these technologies was Gopher, a short-lived hypertexting technology which briefly existed before the world wide web took over.

How to use Gopher

The simplest way to use Gopher today is to use the Firefox web browser along with the Overbite Firefox plugin.

To verify that Gopher is working, once Overbite is installed, go to this Gopher link to verify the Gopher protocol is supported by your browser.

Setting up a Gopher server

I use the Geomyidae Gopher server (Warning: Gopher link) as my Gopher server. Once it is compiled and installed, here is the format of an index.gph file:

Here is some free-form text
tthis line needs two 't's at the beginning

[0|Title of text document|/filename.txt|gopher.samiam.org|70]
[1|Gopher index location|/some_directory/|gopher.samiam.org|70]
[h|World wide web URL|URL:http://samiam.org|gopher.samiam.org|70]

Here, any line that doesn't start with a '[' or 't' is rendered as-is. Text lines which start with 't' have the first 't' dropped. Lines which start with '[' are Gopher hyperlinks.

The fields of a hyperlink are:

  • The type of hyperlink. 0 is a link to a text file, 1 is a link to another Gopher index of hyperlinks, and 'h' is a modern URL link.
  • The title of the hyperlink.
  • The location the hyperlink is on.
  • The name of the server with the hyperlink.
  • The port the hyperlink is on
Note that, with 'h' hyperlinks, the server and port number are usually ignored, but should point to the gopher server serving the hyperlink (Not the server the link points to).

My Gopher server

As I alluded to above, I now have a Gopher server at gopher://gopher.samiam.org/. It contains a mirror of my index page, as well as a text copy of this blog. For people who do not want to install a Gopher client, there are at least two different Gopher proxies available.

To be honest, I was never much of a Gopher user; by the time I got on the Internet, the steamroller of HTML was in full force and Gopher was quickly going the way of bell bottoms. However, it's an interesting technology which should not be completely forgotten.

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