|Internet protocol suite|
The Gopher protocol // is a communications protocol designed for distributing, searching, and retrieving documents in Internet Protocol networks. The design of the Gopher protocol and user interface is menu-driven, and presented an alternative to the World Wide Web in its early stages, but ultimately fell into disfavor, yielding to the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). The Gopher ecosystem is often regarded as the effective predecessor of the World Wide Web.
The protocol was invented by a team led by Mark P. McCahill [ citation needed ] Gopher was preferred by many network administrators for using fewer network resources than Web services.at the University of Minnesota. It offers some features not natively supported by the Web and imposes a much stronger hierarchy on the documents it stores. Its text menu interface is well-suited to computing environments that rely heavily on remote text-oriented computer terminals, which were still common at the time of its creation in 1991, and the simplicity of its protocol facilitated a wide variety of client implementations. More recent Gopher revisions and graphical clients added support for multimedia.
Gopher's hierarchical structure provided a platform for the first large-scale electronic library connections.The Gopher protocol is still in use by enthusiasts, and although it has been almost entirely supplanted by the Web, a small population of actively-maintained servers remains.
Gopher system was released in mid-1991 by Mark P. McCahill, Farhad Anklesaria, Paul Lindner, Daniel Torrey, and Bob Alberti of the University of Minnesotain the United States. Its central goals were, as stated in RFC 1436:
Gopher combines document hierarchies with collections of services, including WAIS, the Archie and Veronica search engines, and gateways to other information systems such as File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Usenet.
The general interest in campus-wide information systems (CWISs) in higher education at the time,and the ease of setup of Gopher servers to create an instant CWIS with links to other sites' online directories and resources were the factors contributing to Gopher's rapid adoption.
The name was coined by Anklesaria as a play on several meanings of the word "gopher".The University of Minnesota mascot is the gopher, a gofer is an assistant who "goes for" things, and a gopher burrows through the ground to reach a desired location.
The World Wide Web was in its infancy in 1991, and Gopher services quickly became established. By the late 1990s, Gopher had ceased expanding. Several factors contributed to Gopher's stagnation:
Gopher remains in active use by its enthusiasts, and there have been attempts to revive Gopher on modern platforms and mobile devices. One attempt is The Overbite Project, which hosts various browser extensions and modern clients.
The conceptualization of knowledge in "Gopher space" or a "cloud" as specific information in a particular file, and the prominence of the FTP, influenced the technology and the resulting functionality of Gopher.
Gopher is designed to function and to appear much like a mountable read-only global network file system (and software, such as gopherfs, is available that can actually mount a Gopher server as a FUSE resource). At a minimum, whatever a person can do with data files on a CD-ROM, one can do on Gopher.
A Gopher system consists of a series of hierarchical hyperlinkable menus. The choice of menu items and titles is controlled by the administrator of the server.
Similar to a file on a Web server, a file on a Gopher server can be linked to as a menu item from any other Gopher server. Many servers take advantage of this inter-server linking to provide a directory of other servers that the user can access.
The Gopher protocol was first described in RFC 1436. IANA has assigned TCP port 70 to the Gopher protocol.
The protocol is simple to negotiate, making it possible to browse without using a client. A standard gopher session may therefore appear as follows:
/Reference 1CIA World Factbook /Archives/mirrors/textfiles.com/politics/CIA gopher.quux.org 70 0Jargon 4.2.0 /Reference/Jargon 4.2.0 gopher.quux.org 70 + 1Online Libraries /Reference/Online Libraries gopher.quux.org 70 + 1RFCs: Internet Standards /Computers/Standards and Specs/RFC gopher.quux.org 70 1U.S. Gazetteer /Reference/U.S. Gazetteer gopher.quux.org 70 + iThis file contains information on United States fake (NULL) 0 icities, counties, and geographical areas. It has fake (NULL) 0 ilatitude/longitude, population, land and water area, fake (NULL) 0 iand ZIP codes. fake (NULL) 0 i fake (NULL) 0 iTo search for a city, enter the city's name. To search fake (NULL) 0 ifor a county, use the name plus County -- for instance, fake (NULL) 0 iDallas County. fake (NULL) 0
Here, the client has established a TCP connection with the server on port 70, the standard gopher port. The client then sends a string followed by a carriage return followed by a line feed (a "CR + LF" sequence). This is the selector, which identifies the document to be retrieved. If the item selector were an empty line, the default directory would be selected. The server then replies with the requested item and closes the connection. According to the protocol, before the connection is closed, the server should send a full-stop (i.e., a period character) on a line by itself. However, as is the case here, not all servers conform to this part of the protocol and the server may close the connection without returning the final full-stop.
In this example, the item sent back is a gopher menu, a directory consisting of a sequence of lines each of which describes an item that can be retrieved. Most clients will display these as hypertext links, and so allow the user to navigate through gopherspace by following the links.
All lines in a gopher menu are terminated by "CR + LF", and consist of five fields: the item type as the very first character (see below), the display string (i.e., the description text to display), a selector (i.e., a file-system pathname), host name (i.e., the domain name of the server on which the item resides), and port (i.e., the port number used by that server). The item type and display string are joined without a space; the other fields are separated by the tab character.
Because of the simplicity of the Gopher protocol, tools such as netcat make it possible to download Gopher content easily from the command line:
echo jacks/jack.exe | nc gopher.example.org 70 > jack.exe
The protocol is also supported by cURL as of 7.21.2-DEV.
Gopher menu items are defined by lines of tab-separated values in a text file. This file is sometimes called a gophermap. As the source code to a gopher menu, a gophermap is roughly analogous to an HTML file for a web page. Each tab-separated line (called a selector line) gives the client software a description of the menu item: what it is, what it's called, and where it leads. The client displays the menu items in the order that they appear in the gophermap.
The first character in a selector line indicates the item type, which tells the client what kind of file or protocol the menu item points to. This helps the client decide what to do with it. Gopher's item types are a more basic precursor to the media type system used by the Web and email attachments.
The item type is followed by the user display string (a description or label that represents the item in the menu); the selector (a path or other string for the resource on the server); the hostname (the domain name or IP address of the server), and the network port.
For example: The following selector line generates a link to the "/home" directory at the subdomain gopher.floodgap.com, on port 70. The item type of 1 indicates that the resource is a Gopher menu. The string "Floodgap Home" is what the user sees in the menu.
1Floodgap Home /home gopher.floodgap.com 70
|Item type||User display string||Selector||Hostname||Port|
In addition to selector lines, a gophermap may contain comment lines. Comment lines are not for code comments; rather, they are lines of text sent to the client to display alongside the menu items, such as for a menu description or welcome message. A comment line contains no tab characters.
In a Gopher menu's source code, a one-character code indicates what kind of content the client should expect. This code may either be a digit or a letter of the alphabet; letters are case-sensitive.
The technical specification for Gopher, RFC 1436, defines 14 item types. A one-character code indicates what kind of content the client should expect. Item type
3 is an error code for exception handling. Gopher client authors improvised item types
i (informational message), and
s (sound file) after the publication of RFC 1436.
|3||Error code returned by a Gopher server to indicate failure|
|4||BinHex-encoded file (primarily for Macintosh computers)|
|7||Gopher full-text search|
|+||Mirror or alternate server (for load balancing or in case of primary server downtime)|
|d||Doc. Seen used alongside PDF's and .DOC's|
|s||Sound file (especially the WAV format)|
Historically, to create a link to a Web server, "GET /" was used as a pseudo-selector to emulate an HTTP GET request. John Goerzen created an addition
h, the display string is the title of the link, the item selector is "URL:http://gopher.quux.org/", and the domain and port are that of the originating Gopher server (so that clients that do not support URL links will query the server and receive an HTML redirection page).
The master Gopherspace search engine is Veronica. Veronica offers a keyword search of all the public Internet Gopher server menu titles. A Veronica search produces a menu of Gopher items, each of which is a direct pointer to a Gopher data source. Individual Gopher servers may also use localized search engines specific to their content such as Jughead and Jugtail.
GopherVR is a 3D virtual reality variant of the original Gopher system.
|First supported||Last supported|
|Browse||?||Present||This browser is for RISC OS|
|Camino||1.0||2.1.2||Always uses port 70.|
|Classilla||9.0||Present||Hardcoded to port 70 from 9.0–9.2; whitelisted ports from 9.2.1|
|Present||cURL is a command-line file transfer utility|
|ELinks||0.10.0||?||Offers support as a build option|
|Epiphany||?||2.26.3||Disabled after switch to WebKit|
with plug-in only
with plug-in only
|Requires Falkon ≥ 3.1.0 with both the KDE Frameworks Integration extension (shipped with Falkon ≥ 3.1.0) enabled and the (separate) kio_gopher plug-in ≥ 0.1.99 (first release for KDE Frameworks 5) installed|
|Google Chrome||With extension only||N/A||With Burrow extension|
|Internet Explorer||N/A||6.0 SP1+||Supported added by MS02-047 to IE 6 SP1 can be enabled in the Windows Registry. Always uses port 70.|
|Internet Explorer for Mac||?||5.2.3||PowerPC-only|
|Konqueror||With plug-in only||?||Requires kio_gopher plug-in|
|Present||libwww is an API for internet applications|
|Line Mode Browser||Present|
|Mozilla Firefox||0.0||3.6||Built-in support dropped from Firefox 4.0 onwards; can be added back by installing one of the extensions by the Overbite Project|
|NetSurf||N/A||N/A||Under development, based on the cURL fetcher|
|OmniWeb||5.9.2||Present||First WebKit Browser to support Gopher|
|Opera||N/A||N/A||Opera 9.0 includes a proxy capability|
|Pavuk||?||Present||Pavuk is a web mirror (recursive download) software program|
|SeaMonkey||1.0||2.0.14||Built-in support dropped from SeaMonkey 2.1 onwards; can be added back by installing one of the extensions by the Overbite Project|
|WebPositive||?||Present||WebKit-based browser used in the Haiku operating system|
Browsers that do not natively support Gopher can still access servers using one of the available Gopher to HTTP gateways.
Gopher support was disabled in Internet Explorer versions 5.x and 6 for Windows in August 2002 by a patch meant to fix a security vulnerability in the browser's Gopher protocol handler to reduce the attack surface which was included in IE6 SP1; however, it can be re-enabled by editing the Windows registry. In Internet Explorer 7, Gopher support was removed on the WinINET level.
For Mozilla Firefox and SeaMonkey, Overbiteextensions extend Gopher browsing and support the current versions of the browsers (Firefox Quantum v ≥57 and equivalent versions of SeaMonkey):
OverbiteWX includes support for accessing Gopher servers not on port 70 using a whitelist and for CSO/ph queries. OverbiteFF always uses port 70.
For Chromium and Google Chrome, Burrow gopher:// URLs to a proxy. In the past an Overbite proxy-based extension for these browsers was available but is no longer maintained and does not work with the current (>23) releases.is available. It redirects
For Konqueror, Kio gopheris available.
Some[ who? ] have suggested that the bandwidth-sparing simple interface of Gopher would be a good match for mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs), but so far, mobile adaptations of HTML and XML and other simplified content have proven more popular. The PyGopherd server provides a built-in WML front-end to Gopher sites served with it.
The early 2010s saw a renewed interest in native Gopher clients for popular smartphones: Overbite, an open source client for Android 1.5+ was released in alpha stage in 2010.PocketGopher was also released in 2010, along with its source code, for several Java ME compatible devices. Gopher Client was released in 2016 as a proprietary client for iPhone and iPad devices and is currently maintained.
Gopher popularity was at its height at a time when there were still many equally competing computer architectures and operating systems. As a result, there are several Gopher clients available for Acorn RISC OS, AmigaOS, Atari MiNT, CMS, DOS, classic Mac OS, MVS, NeXT, OS/2 Warp, most UNIX-like operating systems, VMS, Windows 3.x, and Windows 9x. GopherVR was a client designed for 3D visualization, and there is even a Gopher client in MOO.The majority of these clients are hard-coded to work on TCP port 70.
Users of Web browsers that have incomplete or no support for Gopher can access content on Gopher servers via a server gateway or proxy server that converts Gopher menus into HTML; known proxies are the Floodgap Public Gopher proxy and Gopher Proxy. Similarly, certain server packages such as GN and PyGopherd have built-in Gopher to HTTP interfaces. Squid Proxy software gateways any gopher:// URL to HTTP content, enabling any browser or web agent to access gopher content easily.
Because the protocol is trivial to implement in a basic fashion, there are many server packages still available, and some are still maintained.
|Server||Developed by||Latest version||Release date||License||Written in||Notes|
|Aftershock||Rob Linwood||1.0.1||22 April 2004||MIT||Java|
|Apache::GopherHandler||Timm Murray||0.1||26 March 2004||GPL||Perl||Apache 2 plugin to run Gopher-Server.|
|Atua||Charles Childers||2017.4||9 October 2017||ISC||Forth|
|Bucktooth||Cameron Kaiser||0.2.9||1 May 2011||Floodgap Free Software License||Perl|
|Flask-Gopher||Michael Lazar||2.2.0||11 January 2020||GPLv3||Python|
|geomyid||Quinn Evans||0.0.1||10 August 2015||2-clause BSD||Common Lisp|
|Geomyidae||Christoph Lohmann||0.34||13 March 2019||MIT||C|
|GN||?||2.25-20020226||26 February 2002||GPL||C|
|GoFish||Sean MacLennan||1.2||8 October 2010||GPLv2||C|
|Gopher Cannon [ dead link ]||Geoff Sevart||1.07||8 July 2013||Freeware||.NET 3.5 (Win32/Win64)||Version 1.06 of 26 August 2010 is available from gopherspace.de.|
|Gopher-Server||Timm Murray||0.1.1||26 March 2004||GPL||Perl|
|Gophernicus||Kim Holviala and others||3.1.0||14 November 2019||BSD||C|
|gophrier||Guillaume Duhamel||0.2.3||29 March 2012||GPL||C|
|GOPHSERV [ dead link ]||?||0.5||30 December 2012||GPLv3||FreeBASIC||Version 0.4 is available from gopherspace.de.|
|Goscher||Aaron W. Hsu||8.0||20 June 2011||ISC||Scheme|
|mgod||Mate Nagy||1.1||29 January 2018||GPLv3||C|
|Motsognir||Mateusz Viste||1.0.12||7 July 2019||GPLv3||C|
|PyGopherd||John Goerzen||18.104.22.168||14 February 2017||GPL||Python|
|PyGS||Adam Gurno||0.3.5||7 August 2001||GPLv2||Python||Version 0.3.5 is available on the download page|
|Spacecookie||Lukas Epple||0.2.1.1||10 December 2019||GPL||Haskell|
|Xylophar||Nathaniel Leveck||0.0.1||15 January 2020||BSD||FreeBASIC|
The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application protocol for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. HTTP is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web, where hypertext documents include hyperlinks to other resources that the user can easily access, for example by a mouse click or by tapping the screen in a web browser.
A website is a collection of web pages and related content that is identified by a common domain name and published on at least one web server. Notable examples are wikipedia.org, google.com, and amazon.com.
Wide Area Information Server (WAIS) is a client–server text searching system that uses the ANSI Standard Z39.50 Information Retrieval Service Definition and Protocol Specifications for Library Applications" (Z39.50:1988) to search index databases on remote computers. It was developed in the late 1980s as a project of Thinking Machines, Apple Computer, Dow Jones, and KPMG Peat Marwick.
In computer networking, a proxy server is a server application or appliance that acts as an intermediary for requests from clients seeking resources from servers that provide those resources. A proxy server thus functions on behalf of the client when requesting service, potentially masking the true origin of the request to the resource server.
Squid is a caching and forwarding HTTP web proxy. It has a wide variety of uses, including speeding up a web server by caching repeated requests, caching web, DNS and other computer network lookups for a group of people sharing network resources, and aiding security by filtering traffic. Although primarily used for HTTP and FTP, Squid includes limited support for several other protocols including Internet Gopher, SSL, TLS and HTTPS. Squid does not support the SOCKS protocol, unlike Privoxy, with which Squid can be used in order to provide SOCKS support.
Veronica was a search engine system for the Gopher protocol, released in November 1992 by Steven Foster and Fred Barrie at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Bonjour is Apple's implementation of zero-configuration networking (zeroconf), a group of technologies that includes service discovery, address assignment, and hostname resolution. Bonjour locates devices such as printers, other computers, and the services that those devices offer on a local network using multicast Domain Name System (mDNS) service records.
SOCKS is an Internet protocol that exchanges network packets between a client and server through a proxy server. SOCKS5 optionally provides authentication so only authorized users may access a server. Practically, a SOCKS server proxies TCP connections to an arbitrary IP address, and provides a means for UDP packets to be forwarded.
The Web Proxy Auto-Discovery (WPAD) Protocol is a method used by clients to locate the URL of a configuration file using DHCP and/or DNS discovery methods. Once detection and download of the configuration file is complete, it can be executed to determine the proxy for a specified URL.
The following tables compare general and technical information for a number of web browsers.
In computer networks, a tunneling protocol is a communications protocol that allows for the movement of data from one network to another. It involves allowing private network communications to be sent across a public network through a process called encapsulation.
Bucktooth is one of the modern servers for Internet Gopher written by Cameron Kaiser. Instead of using the .link and .cap files found in the University of Minnesota gopherd, bucktooth uses the gophermap format.
GopherVR is an enhanced Internet Gopher client that includes a 3D visualization tool for viewing resource collections as 3D scenes. The 3D view was intended to be similar to 3D games of the time, like Spectre.
A proxy auto-config (PAC) file defines how web browsers and other user agents can automatically choose the appropriate proxy server for fetching a given URL.
The Oracle iPlanet Web Proxy Server (OiWPS), formerly known as Sun Java System Web Proxy Server (SJSWPS), is a proxy server software developed by Sun Microsystems.
A phlog, also called an rlog, is a type of daybook, similar to a blog, that runs off a Gopher protocol server. These phlogs are typically hosted from home servers running some sort of UNIX operating system, because a user account on the server is usually required to update the content. There are quite a few phlogs floating around gopherspace but the vast majority are not updated regularly.
A proxy list is a list of open HTTP/HTTPS/SOCKS proxy servers all on one website. Proxies allow users to make indirect network connections to other computer network services. Proxy lists include the IP addresses of computers hosting open proxy servers, meaning that these proxy servers are available to anyone on the internet. Proxy lists are often organized by the various proxy protocols the servers use. Many proxy lists index Web proxies, which can be used without changing browser settings.
A home server is a computing server located in a private residence providing services to other devices inside or outside the household through a home network or the Internet. Such services may include file and printer serving, media center serving, web serving, web caching, file sharing and synchronization, calendar and contact sharing and synchronization, account authentication and backup services.
Web storage, sometimes known as DOM storage, provides web apps with methods and protocols for storing client-side data. Web storage supports persistent data storage, similar to cookies but with a greatly enhanced capacity and no information stored in the HTTP request header. There are two main web storage types: local storage and session storage, behaving similarly to persistent cookies and session cookies respectively. Web storage is standardized by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and WHATWG. All major browsers support it.
OmniWeb 5.9.2 Released April 01 2009: Implemented ground-breaking support for the revolutionary Gopher protocol—a first for WebKit-based browsers! For a list of Gopher servers, see the Floodgap list. Enjoy!. The same text appears in the 5.10 release of August 27, 2009 further down the page, copied from the 5.9.2 unstable branch. The Floodgap list referred to is at Floodgap: new Gopher servers and does not itself refer to April Fools' Day.