Gopher? Gopher.

Since last weekend, I'm serving my site over gopher as well. Yes, that nearly forgotten 90s protocol. And it's not even an april fools joke.

"BBS The Documentary" from Jason Scott1 showed me a world I never touched, never experienced - Eastern Europe and dial up in the 80s... we didn't even have a phone line until the early 90s at home. So I eagerly started digging on how to set up a BBS, to at least get a minor feel from the time of WarGames2, only to realize, I'd most probably need to write the whole thing from scratch. Not that is wouldn't be fun, but it wouldn't be enough fun.

Soon I forgot about it, until about week ago an unusual entry popped up on Hacker News3: We must revive Gopherspace4 - from 2017.

The basis of the entry describes how ugly the web has become with all the tracking, ads, attention driven social media, an puts it in constast with the purity of Gopher. HTTP and HTML are absolutely fantastic pieces of engineering - but indeed they became bloated and abused. Gopher on the other hand, is time travel, to a time when a global network was completely new.

After reading a bit about the Gopher protocol5, I have to say: of course it's pure, it needs to be compared with HTTP 1.0 and HTML 1, because it never got a 2.0. It certainly has that oldschool feeling of following links around, finding bottomless servers that has been sitting around for 20+ years with content.

I wanted to contribute to this tiny community of literally just hundreds of servers around the world.

The Python script6 I generate my website with uses markdown source content files and Pandoc7 creates nice HTML out of them. Apparently it can also create 80 columns wrapped plain text just as easily. Setting up pygopherd8 is pretty straightforward as well.

The only difference from the docs you might find in case of pygopherd is that the gophermap files don't need the i in front of ordinary text content.

An example snippet:

petermolnar.net's gopherhole - phlog, if you prefer


1article    /category/article   petermolnar.net 70
1journal    /category/journal   petermolnar.net 70
1note   /category/note  petermolnar.net 70
1photo  /category/photo petermolnar.net 70

will look like:

gopher-01
lynx browser rendering the gopherfile above

or

article - petermolnar.net


0A journey to the underworld that is RDF        /web-of-the-machines/index.txt  petermolnar.net 70
I got into an argument on Twitter - it made me realize I don’t know
enough about RDF to argue about it. Afterwards I tried out a lot of
different ways to drew my own conclusions on RDF(a), microdata, JSON-LD,
vocabularies, schema.org, etc. In short: this one does not spark joy.
Irdf-it-does-not-spark-joy      /web-of-the-machines/rdf-it-does-not-spark-joy.jpg      petermolnar.net 70
Igsdtt_microdata_error_01       /web-of-the-machines/gsdtt_microdata_error_01.png       petermolnar.net 70
Igsdtt_microdata_error_02       /web-of-the-machines/gsdtt_microdata_error_02.png       petermolnar.net 70
Igsdtt_rdfa_error_01    /web-of-the-machines/gsdtt_rdfa_error_01.png    petermolnar.net 70
Igsdtt_rdfa_error_02    /web-of-the-machines/gsdtt_rdfa_error_02.png    petermolnar.net 70

0How to add themes to your website with manual and CSS prefers-color-scheme support     /os-theme-switcher-css-with-fallback/index.txt  petermolnar.net 70
prefers-color-scheme is a new CSS media query feature, which propagates
your OS level color preference. While it’s very nice, it’s way too new
gopher-02
lynx rendering my articles gophermap from the snippet above

There are good guides out there for setting up gopher content9, there is really no need for one more, but if you do have any questions, feel free to get in touch.


  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJgRHYw9-fU&list=PLgE-9Sxs2IBVgJkY-1ZMj0tIFxsJ-vOkv

  2. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086567/

  3. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19178885

  4. https://box.matto.nl/revivegopher.html

  5. https://www.minnpost.com/business/2016/08/rise-and-fall-gopher-protocol/

  6. http://github.com/petermolnar/nasg

  7. http://pandoc.org/

  8. https://github.com/jgoerzen/pygopherd

  9. https://davebucklin.com/play/2018/03/31/how-to-gopher.html

Responses

  1. from Chris Aldrich at
    https://boffosocko.com/2019/03/18/gopher-gopher-peter-molnar/