## 1 Setting up a Gopher Server

Hey folks! In this post I'm going to talk a bit about setting up my Gopher server and some of the choices I made in doing so.

Disclaimer: I'm only a few weeks into learning about Gopher and the so-called "indie-net", so this article may not represent the better part of community knowledge, or "best practices".

## 2 Basics

I'll just rattle these off quickly so that we don't need to spend too much time on them:

• Server: Ubuntu VPS
• Gopher Server: Motsognir

I won't cover the basics of setting up Motsognir or a basic Gopher map, as others have already done a great job covering these topics.

Checkout the following WWW links on the topic: https://gopher.zone/ https://usermanual.wiki/Document/manual.488145643/help

## 3 CGI

Because Gopher is a pretty simple protocol spec, I wanted to not serve static gopher maps and instead implement everything as a CGI script. This allows me to be pretty flexible with the formatting and configuration of the site:

• Can provide a 'plain' non ANSI escape sequence cluttered version of the site for users who prefer the minimalism of uniform text/chars
• Can provide interesting tidbits like Last Modification date of the site and # of uniq visitors
• Silly stuff like intermediate http requests (server side) to my git server so that I can serve all of my git website natively in Gopher

The CGI source is actually available to view live, see: gopher://chate.io/0/foobar.txt

Note: The Gopher server Gophernicus actually offers what I think is an even cooler way of doing this, with what it calls moles. Check it out: https://github.com/gophernicus/gophernicus

I may move over to gophernicus at some point, but for now I'm enjoying the ease of use of Motsognir.

On that topic, to get all the CGI stuff working correctly I had to set the following values in the Motsognir config file. The config file is awesome, and well documented, but as a newcomer to the protocol it was somewhat confusing to get it configured right, so I've provided the following:

GopherCgiSupport=1 SubGophermaps=1 DefaultGophermap=

I'd encourage reading the comments for each of these settings for a clearer understanding of what they're doing, but I leave this exercise to the reader.

### 3.1 Footguns and Hangups

A few things I learned trying to always dynamically generate my gophermap:

• Clients can be finnicky and the protocl spec seems to be not super well agreed upon by client implimenters
• Some clients will not correctly parse info lines if there is a " " after the i
• Some clients will seemingly ignore info lines
• Some clients don't mind if you don't have a "." char at the EOF, others seem to really care
• Apparently the "." at EOF is part of the spec, so it really should be there
• Some clients will automagically parse out any ANSI escape sequnces, others will interpret them correctly, and others will barf them to the screen literally
• To my knowledge there is nothing in the spec for handling this, so client implementers can't be blamed
• Some gopher servers will helpfully auto fill lines in a map that don't contain <TAB>$host<$TAB>$port. I learned that motsognir will do this on a statically served map, but (in hindsight, obviously), not a dynamically generated one, so make sure you're filling that out ### 3.2 Helpful Patterns A few helpful patterns I've employed while writing my CGI scripts: • Establish an interface for printing your gopher map. I use a function that takes 3 args:$gophermenutype, $string,$rest.

The idea being that you call the function this way: gprint("1","Some Dir","\t$path\t$hostname\t\$port");

This function will then, depending on what/if it gets a CGI query parameter, will either randomly colorize the output or not, allowing the site to be easily rendered one way or another.

• As with stuff on WWW, make sure your CGI scripts are executing quickly, otherwise the client will be left waiting

Created: 2022-01-21 Fri 15:49