New life of the Gopher protocol

The only article on the Gopher protocol was published on Habré back in 2009, so I decided to refresh the topic a bit.

Gopher (gopher - English.) - This is the textual predecessor of the web, which went into oblivion back in 1993, when it was supplanted by a more functional HTTP. Over time, it ceased to be supported by browsers, so when trying to go to gopher: // - a link of some Firefox 32 regrets that such a protocol is not supported. Until recently, my acquaintance with this Internet artifact was limited to a line from A. Levin’s book “A self-study manual on working on a computer (Windows 95/98)”: “... so far many interesting resources are available only on Gopher”. This was 14 years ago, although even then the protocol was completely abandoned.

But the gopher, though gone, but not quite. As often happens with outdated technologies, Gopher has a certain number of fans left - not as many as the legendary ZX Spectrum, but enough to support the community. As of 2013, there were 180 gopher servers, now there are even fewer. For comparison: in September 2014, the number of websites exceeded 1 billion. Can I join this small community? How? And most importantly - why? Let's try to figure it out.

Wikipedia tells us that:

The gopher protocol has a more rigid structure for placing information, very similar to the directory structure in the file system, which consists of directories and files embedded in each other. The hierarchical structure of links allowed users of text terminals, mainly in universities, to quickly find the necessary information.

That is, judging by the description, Gopher is FTP with a text shell. And on it it is quite possible to place some text-only resource without modern effects , and even attach files. In practice, it is: the home page of a gopher site is a text document, each line of which is a link to a subdirectory, text document or other file.

You can raise your own server using a number of server software that is installed in a few clicks, and access the resource using one of the Gopher clients or browser plug-ins. Sometimes it seems that the amount of this software itself exceeds the number of active sites. Due to the age of the subject, an old computer, which used to gather dust in the pantry as unnecessary, is quite suitable as the server machine. Or geeks favorite Raspberry Pi .

My favorite bunch is the pygopherd server running under python , and the client, which is actually called the Gopher Client. The graphical interface of the program will not allow you to fully experience the spirit of text Internet without a mouse, but surfing with it is much more convenient. Speaking of surfing: Gopher has its own search engine “ Veronica-2 ”, covering about 65% of modern goofernet. Veronika, in particular, is also implemented in the Gopher Client , so you don’t need additional crutches.

Screenshot of the Gopher Client from the developer's site:

In the end, it is not forbidden to use the oldest text browser Lynx , which has been updated so far, and has remained faithful to the protocol of 20 years ago.

Here is a short list of resources that still work:

gopher: // - (the largest resource by Gopher)
gopher: // - (protocol manifest)
gopher: // - Russian server (almost not only)
gopher: // 70/1% 2fservers - and a list of all working servers (!) on it.

Also popular now: