Gopher is a document retrieval protocol developed by the University of Minnesota in 1993. Unfortunately, many people regard it as a mere predecessor to the Web that has no value in the present day.
In actuality, this isn't true! Gopher has its place in this world; professionals just haven't embraced it yet. There is still even now a bustling niche community embracing Gopher for what it is: An efficient, structured, and simple in design protocol for retrieving documents and information.
I have my own gopherhole here on the Somnolescent server. I've just started burrowing it out, but you should see more stuff coming up on there in the following weeks.
The Snake Shack on Gopher
No client? See below.
Some gopher servers have their own HTTP mirrors.
Gopher's lightweight nature is perfect for mobile devices, particularly on data limits.
While there are a couple Gopher clients on the iOS App Store, they are mostly paid applications and I haven't been able to try them. (write me if you do though!)
- Pocket Gopher - Modern Gopher client for Android 4.1+. Material design and a main screen where your bookmarks are.
- DiggieDog - Another modern client for 4.1+. Bookmarks are accessed through an option on the hamburger menu, and you can set a home URL.
- Overbite for Android - Supports Android versions as low as Gingerbread (1.5), and supports putting bookmarks on your launcher. Doesn't support downloads.
Have a Java-based flip or feature phone? Well, first, I salute you, and second, there's a Gopher client for that too, Pocket Gopher (not to be confused with the Android client with the same name). I haven't tried it yet, unfortunately.
Floodgap's Overbite Project maintains a Firefox extension, OverbiteWX, that will automatically redirect Gopher links to use their proxy mentioned above. If you use a pre-Quantum version of Firefox, TenFourFox, or Seamonkey, you can use OverbiteFF, which does make native connections to Gopher servers without any proxy required. (boycott mozilla )
Through a console is one of the more traditional ways to experience Gopher in all its ASCII glory.
- Lynx - Text-based web browser that also supports Gopher.
- VF-1 - Command-line Gopher client written in Python. Supports TLS encryption.
- gopher - The original Gopher client by the University of Minnesota. Still available in many Linux repositories.
- Little Gopher Client - Written in Free Pascal and made with Lazarus. This client has a unique feature that maps out Gopher menus as you traverse them in a tree view. Doesn't support searching or file downloads, unfortunately.
- Gopher Client - A Gopher client written in .NET 2.0. Appears to be stagnant, but supports the less widely known Gopher+ forward-compatible enhancements.
- Gopherit - Not to plug or anything!! A Gopher client I wrote in Visual Basic over the summer of 2018 that uses a curl executable as a base.
In time you may decide you want to leap on this bandwagon and host your own Gopher server. That's great! You have a few options.
- Bucktooth - Written in Perl. Used by gopher.floodgap.com.
- pygopherd - Written in Python 2. Also allows for WAP and HTTP frontends, and available in the Ubuntu repositories if you need something quick.
Places of Interest
- Floodgap Systems - Home to Groundhog weather reports, Veronica-2 search, and the Bucktooth server software, among other helpful Gopher resources.
- Super-Dimensional Fortess (SDF) - Offers free shell accounts and personal gopherholes.
- Khzae.net - Movie showtimes, information on SSL, and GopherPoll.
- Gopherproject.org - Introductory links to gopherspace.