Re: help

Neophytos Iacovou (
Fri, 23 Sep 1994 10:03:08 -0500 (CDT)

Go with a smile... writes:
> help

Here's some general information about gopher. The software is available via
anonymous ftp from

------------------------------ Suggested Books

There is a chapter about Gopher in each of the suggested books. These
books are also good guides to the Internet.

"The Whole INTERNET User's Guide and Catalog"
by Ed Krol
published by: O'Reilley & Associates, Inc;
ISBN: 1-56592-025-2.

"The Internet Passport: NorthWestNet's Guide to Our World Online"
by Jonathan Kochmer and NorthWestNet.
published by: NorthWestNet, Bellevue, WA. 1993. 516 pp.
ISBN: 0-9635281-0-6.
Contact info:, or (206) 562-3000

"Internet: Getting Started"
by April Marine, Susan Kirkpatrick, Vivian Neou, Carol Ward
published by: Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ. 1993.
ISBN: 0-13-327933-2

------------------------------ General Information

Internet Gopher
distributed document search and retrieval system

Microcomputer and Workstation Networks Center
University of Minnesota

What is internet Gopher?

Internet Gopher is a distributed document search and retrieval system. It
combines features of both electronic bulletin board services and fully indexed
databases. The protocol and software follows a client-server model, and permits
users on a heterogeneous mix of desktop systems to browse, search, and retrieve
documents residing on multiple distributed server machines.

Internet Gopher was developed by the Microcomputer Center at the University of
Minnesota and may be freely distributed.

What Information is Available via Gopher?

A lot of very diverse information is stored on Gopher servers, both at the
University of Minnesota campus and out on the Internet. We have computer
documentation, phone books, news, weather, library databases, books, recipes,

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 vendors. While
Gopher is a good tool for our own internal use, anyone may use it. This means
fewer calls to our helpline, resulting in better, faster service.

The Gopher system can keep track of campus phone book servers. Gopher
let's you easily view and search online phonebooks using either the University
of Illinois CSO/PH directory or X.500 directories.

Besides browsing and searching files and directories on a network of Gopher
servers, users can obtain information from Archie servers, WAIS (Wide Area
Information Service) servers, and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) servers without
leaving the familiar, simple Gopher user interface.

Quite a bit of news is accessible via 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. Many of the
sites that subscribe to Clarinet's UPI newsfeed automaticaly gopher-ize the
news and full-text index it. You can even browse USENET news using Gopher if
you wish.

The electronic books published by the Gutenberg Project are available in
Gopher. These include classics such as Moby Dick and reference 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 information systems. Gopher can stores links to these sites. A telnet
session to many libraries and information servers can be started by selecting
the appropriate source in Gopher.

On the more whimsical side, humor, recipes, jokes, etc. are also available.
There's a wide variety of data, with more coming on-line all the time from a
multitude of sites on the Internet. Browsing through information located in
Sweden is as easy as browsing information residing on a computer in the same
room as you.

How does it work?

Information is stored on multiple servers, connected on 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 system easily. Large indexes can be spread
over multiple servers, resulting in significant speedups. Clients communicate
with servers using TCP/IP.

Macintosh, PC, Windows, NeXT, X, VAX/VMS, IBM VM/CMS or Unix Terminal clients
can access the Gopher system. The client connects with a local primary (or
"root") gopher server which is an entry point into the Gopher server system.
The primary server has links to other Gopher servers. Departments or
organizations can run their own primary servers, consequently there can be many
different entry points into the Gopher system. This allows a certain amount of
freedom in organizing the information to reflect local needs.

At the initial connection, the primary server sends back a listing of the
objects in its top level directory. These objects can be:
Text Files,
CSO Phone Books,
Search Engines,
References to Telnet based information services

Each object has associated with it a user-displayable title, a unique "selector
string", a hostname, and a port number. The client 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 client contacts the given host at the
given port and sends the selector string associated with the object. If the
object was a directory, the client requests the directory listing; if a file,
the client requests the file contents; if a search-service, the client first
finds out what words to search for and then submits the search criteria to the
index server.

Obtaining Gopher software.

Client software is available for Macintosh, DOS-based machines, Windows,
generic curses-based UNIX, X, NeXT (browser style interface), VM/CMS, and
VAX/VMS. Server software is available for Macintosh, UNIX, IBM VM/CMS, VAX/VMS
and MS-DOS machines. Full-text search server software is available for generic
UNIX (based on the public domain WAIS search engine) and for NeXT (using their
native indexing libraries). Full-text search servers should soon be completed
for Macintosh. All software is available via anonymous ftp (or via Gopher)

The internet Gopher development team can be reached via e-mail at:

If you wish to be added to the Gopher-News mailing list (a mailing
list where gopher technology is discussed), send e-mail to:

Another mailing list that may be of interest is the gopher-announce
mailing list; this is where anouncements of new servers and software
are made. To request to be added to the gopher-anounce mailing list,
send e-mail to:

Gopher concerns are often discussed in the USENET newsgroup:

Neophytos Iacovou Distributed Computing Services
University of Minnesota 100 Union St. SE
email: Minneapolis, MN 55455 USA