We have been using gopher on our convex to provide online help for our
applications packages. It is radical awesome as BIFF would say.
We've got it. We like it.
A new newsgroup alt.gopher has been created to handle discussions.
Check it out!!!
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The newsgroup alt.gopher has been created to for developers and
users of the Gopher software developed at the University of Minnesota.
Here is our little gopher spiel, in case you're interested:
What is the Internet Gopher?
The Internet Gopher is an information distribution system. It combines
features of elec- tronic bulletin board services and databases,
allowing you to either browse a hierarchy of information, or to search
for the information you need using full-text indexes. Gopher can also
store references to public telnet sessions, CSO phone book servers,
finger-protocol information, and sounds.
The Internet Gopher software was devel- oped by the Computer and
Information Services department of the University of Minnesota. The
software is freely distributable.
What Information is Available?
There is much diverse information stored on various Gopher servers:
computer documentation, phone books, news, weather, library
databases, books, recipes, etc.
We use Gopher at the Microcomputer Helpline to quickly answer
questions using our large user support database. In addition to our
own information, we have over 6000 information items from various
hardware and software ven- dors. While it's a good tool for our own
internal use, anyone may search the database. This means fewer calls
to our helpline, resulting in better, faster service.
The Gopher system can keep track of campus phone book servers.
Currently you can search seventeen University phone books.
Quite a bit of news is in Gopher. Two campus newspapers: The Minnesota
Daily and The Daily Texan are on line and searchable. National
Weather Forecasts for the entire nation are also available. For
Clarinet subscribers we provide a full UPI news feed that's indexed
The electronic books published by the Gutenberg Project are available
in Gopher. These include classics such as Moby Dick and refer- ence
works such as the CIA World Fact Book. The Hacker's Dictionary and
the Periodic Table of the Elements are available too.
Gopher users can also get at information that is only accessible on
terminal based infor- mation systems. Gopher can store links to these
sites. You can easily start a telnet session to many libraries and
information servers with the press of a key or click of the mouse.
Naturally we have some fun information as well: humor, recipes, jokes,
etc. There's a wide variety of data, with more coming on-line all the
time from a multitude of sites on the Inter- net.
How does it work?
Information is stored on multiple servers, connected together in a
network. This allows for capacity to be added to the system in small,
inexpensive increments. It also allows the Gopher system to cross
institutional boundaries, since other servers can be "linked" into the
sys- tem easily. Large indexes can be spread over multiple servers,
resulting in significant speedups.
You may use the PC, Macintosh, NeXT, Xwindows, or Unix Terminal
Clients to access the Gopher system. The client connects with a "root"
gopher server which is an entry point into the Gopher. There can be
many different entry points. This allows a certain amount of freedom
in organizing the information. Local or fre- quently accessed
information can be put higher in the hierarchy for different
organizations (i.e. the Library root server would have a library
search at the top level, whereas the Music root server would have it
At the initial connection, the root server sends back a listing of the
objects in its top level directory. These objects can be:
CSO Phone Books,
Telnet References or
Each object has associated with it a User displayable title, a unique
"selector string", a hostname, and a port number. The client then
presents the user with the list of titles, and lets them make a
selection. The user does not have to remember hostnames, ports, or
selector strings. The client takes care of this.
After the user makes a selection, the cli- ent contacts the given host
at the given port and sends the selector string associated with the
object. The client will do different things, depending on what type of
object was selected. The client may display a new directory, show a
text file, or prompt the user to search a CSO phone book. This process
continues until the user decides to quit.
Since gopher uses a simple protocol, we and others were able to
develop clients and servers on many platforms quickly and easily.
How do I access Gopher?
Client software for Macintoshes, PCs, NeXTs, X Windows, and UNIX
terminals is available for anonymous ftp from
in the directory
Or, if you just want a quick look at the UNIX terminal curses client,
telnet to the machine
and log in as:
We highly recommend running the client on your local personal computer
or workstation. These local clients have a better response time and
an easier user interface.
Contacting Gopher People.
The University of Minnesota Gopher Development Team can be reached by
sending internet e-mail to
gopher at boombox.micro.umn.edu
Address paper mail to:
Internet Gopher Team
132 Shepherd Labs
100 Union St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
We also operate a mailing-list called gopher-news that contains
announcements of new software and new information available in Gopher.
To subscribe send an internet e-mail message to:
gopher-news-request at boombox.micro.umn.edu
| Paul Lindner | lindner at boombox.micro.umn.edu | Slipping into madness
| GopherSpace | Computer & Information Services | is good for the sake
| Engineer | University of Minnesota | of comparision.
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