IUBio GIL .. BIOSCI/Bionet News .. Biosequences .. Software .. FTP

what the hell is a gopher?

Dan Jacobson danj at WELCHGATE.WELCH.JHU.EDU
Mon Jan 11 18:14:01 EST 1993

In article <9301111748.AA15604 at net.bio.net> BOTSALT at VM.UOGUELPH.CA (david salt) writes:
>A simple question from a wanna-be bionaut.
>What the hell is a gopher and/or gopher hole?
>David Salt (botsalt at vm.uoguelph.ca)

Well, instead of launching into a long-winded description of gopher 
I'll give you the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for Gopher (well - actually
for the newsgroup comp.infosystems.gopher). 

I'll add that gopher has really taken off in the biological community - 
there are services available now that we could only dream about a year ago.

That said I'll also tell you how to (painlessly) retrieve the FAQs for
hundreds and hundreds of newsgroups.  Once you have read the FAQ below
and have gotten a gopher client - point it at merlot.welch.jhu.edu 
and go to the    -->    16. Usenet News and FAQs/ directory

Once you're in this directory read the -->  1.  About These Services. file 
and then go to the following directory:

  -->    2.  All FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) Searches and Archives/

            1.  FAQs - Archives/
            2.  Search All FAQs <?>
            3.  Search IBM PC FAQ <?>
            4.  Search Macintosh FAQ  <?>
            5.  Search Motif FAQ <?>
            6.  Search NeXT FAQ <?>
            7.  Search Unix FAQ <?>
            8.  Utilities/

Now to search for a bit of information select  -->  2.  Search All FAQs <?>
and type in your keyword(s) - in this case you might want to try gopher.

You will get a long list of entries (as gopher has had an impact throughout
the network community) at the top of which is the gopher faq. Now simply 
select and read.

If you know the specific newsgroup of the FAQ that your looking for or simply
want to browse through the FAQ archives select  1.  FAQs - Archives/

Happy searching,

Dan Jacobson

danj at welchgate.welch.jhu.edu

Archive-name: gopher-faq
Last-modified: 1993/01/05

List of questions in the Gopher FAQ:

Q0:  What is Gopher?
Q1:  Where can I get Gopher software?
Q2:  What do I need to access Gopher?
Q3:  Where are there publicly available logins for Gopher?
Q4:  How can I add to the information in gopher?
Q5:  Who Develops Gopher Software?
Q6:  How can I set up a "CSO" phone book server?  Where is the software?
Q7:  Why can't I access the University of Minnesota's UPI news?
Q9:  What are the type characters for the different Gopher Objects?
Q10: When I do full-text searches I always get every document back, Why?
Q11: When I try to build the UNIX software I get an error from make:
     "Must be a separator on rules line #. Stop"  Why?
Q12: What is the relationship between Gopher and (WAIS, WWW, ftp)?
Q13: Are papers or articles describing Gopher available?
Q14: On a DECstation I get the error message "/etc/svc.conf no such file
     or directory" when running the gopherd server, why?
Q15: The boolean searching terms don't work for my full-text index, why?
Q16: When linking the Unix gopher server with WAIS I get undefined symbols,
Q18: Why don't my WAIS indexes work?  I never get anything back for searches.
     or Why do I get "Dangling file" error messages in my logfile?
Q19: My gopher server doesn't work under inetd, why?
Q20: This is not a bug report, just a curiousity. I managed to install
Q21: Help!  I have PC-NFS and want to use the PC-Gopher client.  How?
Q22: How do I nuke a hung TCP connection?  I can't restart my UNIX
     gopher server unless I get rid of it, and I don't want to reboot!
Q23: Is there somewhere I can retrieve a list of announced gopher
     links?  I'd like to keep a local, up-to-date list of available gopher
     holes without requiring our users to gopher to umn just to scan
Q24: Why doesn't my unix gopher client display ISO-Latin-1 characters
Q25: What is veronica?

Q0:  What is Gopher?

A0:  The Internet Gopher client/server provides a distributed
     information delivery system around which a world/campus-wide
     information system (CWIS) can readily be constructed.   While
     providing a delivery vehicle for local information,  Gopher
     facilitates access to other Gopher and information servers
     throughout the world. 

Q1:  Where can I get Gopher software?

A1:  via anonymous ftp to boombox.micro.umn.edu.  Look in the directory

Q2:  What do I need to access Gopher?

A2:  You will need a gopher "client" program that runs on your local PC
     or workstation

     There are clients for the following systems.  The directory
     following the name is the location of the client on the anonymous
     ftp site boombox.micro.umn.edu ( in the directory

      Unix Curses & Emacs   :  /pub/gopher/Unix/gopher1.1.tar.Z
      Xwindows              :  /pub/gopher/Unix/xgopher1.2.tar.Z
      Macintosh Hypercard   :  /pub/gopher/Macintosh-TurboGopher/old-versions
      Macintosh Application :  /pub/gopher/Macintosh-TurboGopher
      DOS w/Clarkson Driver :  /pub/gopher/PC_client/
      NeXTstep              :  /pub/gopher/NeXT/
      VM/CMS                :  /pub/gopher/Rice_CMS/ or /pub/gopher/VieGOPHER/
      VMS                   :  /pub/gopher/VMS/
      OS/2 2.0	            :  /pub/gopher/os2/
      MVS/XA                :  /pub/gopher/mvs/

     Many other clients and servers have been developed by others, the
     following is an attempt at a comprehensive list.  

      A Macintosh Application, "MacGopher".

      Another Macintosh application, "GopherApp".

      A port of the UNIX curses client for DOS with PC/TCP

      A port of the UNIX curses client for PC-NFS

      A beta version of the PC Gopher client for Novell's LAN Workplace
      for DOS

      A Xwindows/DECwindows client

     Most of the above clients can also be fetched via a gopher client
     itself.  Put the following on a gopher server:

       Name=Gopher Software Distribution.

     Or point your gopher client at boombox.micro.umn.edu, port 70 and
     look in the gopher directory.

     There are also a number of public telnet login sites available.
     The University of Minnesota operates one on the machine
     "consultant.micro.umn.edu" ( See Q3 for more
     information about this.  It is recommended that you run the client
     software instead of logging into the public telnet login sites.  A
     client uses the custom features of the local machine (mouse,
     scroll bars, etc.)  A local client is also faster.

Q3:  Where are there publicly available logins for Gopher?

A3:  Here is a short list, use the site closest to you to minimize
     network lag.

     Non-tn3270 Public Logins:

     Hostname                  IP#              Login   Area
     ------------------------- ---------------  ------  -------------
     consultant.micro.umn.edu	gopher  North America
     gopher.uiuc.edu    gopher  North America
     panda.uiowa.edu 	panda   North America
     gopher.sunet.se      gopher  Europe
     info.anu.edu.au     info    Australia
     gopher.chalmers.se    gopher  Sweden
     tolten.puc.cl        gopher  South America
     ecnet.ec     gopher  Ecuador
     tn3270 Public Logins:

     Hostname                  IP#              Login   Area
     ------------------------- ---------------  ------  -------------
     pubinfo.ais.umn.edu    -none-  North America

     It is recommended that you run the client software instead of
     logging into the public login sites.  A client uses the
     custom features of the local machine (mouse, scroll bars, etc.)
     and gives faster response.

Q4:  How can I add to the information in gopher?

A4:  You can do this by running a gopher server.  Servers are available
     for a number of systems.  Use anonymous ftp to
     boombox.micro.umn.edu ( and look in /pub/gopher.  The
     following servers are available there:
       Unix      : /pub/gopher/Unix/gopherxx.tar.Z
       VMS       : /pub/gopher/VMS/
       Macintosh : /pub/gopher/Mac_server/
       VM/CMS    : /pub/gopher/Rice_CMS/ or /pub/gopher/Vienna_CMS/
       MVS       : /pub/gopher/mvs/
       DOS PC    : /pub/gopher/PC_server/

     When you have your server ready you can publish it to the world by
     sending e-mail to the maintainters of the "Other gophers" list:

       gopher at boombox.micro.umn.edu 

Q5:  Who Develops Gopher Software?

A5:  Gopher was originally developed in April 1991 by the University
     of Minnesota Microcomputer, Workstation, Networks Center to help
     our campus find answers to their computer questions.  

     It has since grown into a full-fledged World Wide Information
     System used by a large number of sites in the world.

     Many people have contributed to the project, too numerous to

     The people behind the much of the gopher software can be reached
     via e-mail at gopher at boombox.micro.umn.edu, or via paper mail:
      Internet Gopher Developers
      100 Union St. SE #190
      Minneapolis, MN 55455  USA

     Or via FAX at:
      +1 (612) 625-6817

Q6:  How can I set up a "CSO" phone book server?  Where is the software?

A6:  CSO phone book servers are also known as "qi" servers.  The
     software implementation can be gotten via anonymous ftp from 
     uxc.cso.uiuc.edu ( as /pub/qi.tar.Z.  You may also

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