Gopher, Gemini, and the Small Web

Written 2021-06-26

The Space Hippie Gopher Hole, as viewed through Lynx (running in xterm) on 2021-06-26

I've recently gained an appreciation for Gopher and Gemini, which are alternative protocols to HTTP for creating hypertext documents on the Internet.

Earlier this month (May 2021), I set up a Gopher server on this system, which can be accessed by directing your Gopher client/proxy to gopher:// and which uses Gophernicus as a server daemon. About a week later I set up a Gemini server, which can be accessed by directing your Gemini client/proxy to gemini:// and which runs SpaceBeans.

I now have tilde sites being served over both protocols. As of now, I feel that Gophernicus is a better Gopher server than SpaceBeans is a Gemini server, as it has more features, like being able to list all of the tilde sites on a system automatically. I also like the fact that Gopher clients/proxies are far easier to come by and generally more polished than software that supports Gemini. I do think that there is something to be said for the homebrew nature of the Gemini project, though, and I look forward to seeing how it will develop as more users adopt it.

I appreciate the simplicity of text-based sites, and I especially like the lack of pressure to add styling, as there is no way to do so. Right now my main Gopher clients are Lynx on the command line and the Overbite extension for Firefox. I don't currently do much Gemini browsing as I haven't found a client that I like yet, besides Kristall, although I've had issues with it deleting my bookmarks. Hopefully that'll be fixed in a later version.

Using these protocols is another way to be more independent of the modern Internet and of major Web browsers. It's refreshing to see so many self-hosted gopherholes and Gemini capsules, made and hosted by normal people.