8.1 Gophers
Big Dummy's Guide to the Internet

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     Even with tools like Hytelnet and archie, telnet and ftp can still
be frustrating.  There are all those telnet and ftp addresses to
remember.  Telnet services often have their own unique commands.  And,
oh, those weird directory and file names!
     But now that the Net has become a rich repository of information,
people are developing ways to make it far easier to find and retrieve
information and files. Gophers and Wide-Area Information Servers (WAISs)
are two services that could ultimately make the Internet as easy to
navigate as commercial networks such as CompuServe or Prodigy.
     Both gophers and WAISs essentially take a request for information
and then scan the Net for it, so you don't have to.  Both also work
through menus -- instead of typing in some long sequence of characters,
you just move a cursor to your choice and hit enter.  Gophers even
let you select files and programs from ftp sites this way.
     Let's first look at gophers (named for the official mascot of the
University of Minnesota, where the system was developed).
     Many public-access sites now have gophers online.  To use one, type
at the command prompt and hit enter.  If you know your site does not have
a gopher, or if nothing happens when you type that, telnet to
At the log-in prompt, type
and hit enter.  You'll be asked what type of terminal emulation you're
using, after which you'll see something like this:
                    Internet Gopher Information Client v1.03                  
                    Root gopher server: gopher.micro.umn.edu                  
 -->  1.  Information About Gopher/
      2.  Computer Information/   
      3.  Discussion Groups/                                                  
      4.  Fun & Games/ 
      5.  Internet file server (ftp) sites/
      6.  Libraries/
      7.  News/    
      8.  Other Gopher and Information Servers/
      9.  Phone Books/           
      10. Search lots of places at the U of M  <?>
      11. University of Minnesota Campus Information/
Press ? for Help, q to Quit, u to go up a menu                        Page: 1/1
     Assuming you're using VT100 or some other VT emulation, you'll be
able to move among the choices with your up and down arrow keys.  When
you have your cursor on an entry that looks interesting, just hit enter,
and you'll either get a new menu of choices, a database entry form, or a
text file, depending on what the menu entry is linked to (more on how to
tell which you'll get in a moment).
     Gophers are great for exploring the resources of the Net.  Just keep
making choices to see what pops up.  Play with it; see where it takes
you.  Some choices will be documents.  When you read one of these and
either come to the end or hit a lower-case q to quit reading it, you'll
be given the choice of saving a copy to your home directory or e-mailing
it to yourself.  Other choices are simple databases that let you enter a
word to look for in a particular database.  To get back to where you
started on a gopher, hit your u key at a menu prompt, which will move you
back "up" through the gopher menu structure (much like "cd .." in ftp).
     Notice that one of your choices above is "Internet file server (ftp)
sites."  Choose this, and you'll be connected to a modified archie
program -- an archie with a difference.  When you search for a file
through a gopher archie, you'll get a menu of sites that have the file
you're looking for, just as with the old archie.  Only now, instead of
having to write down or remember an ftp address and directory, all you
have to do is position the cursor next to one of the numbers in the menu
and hit enter.  You'll be connected to the ftp site, from which you can
then choose the file you want.  This time, move the cursor to the file
you want and hit a lower-case s.  You'll be asked for a name in your home
directory to use for the file, after which the file will be copied to
your home system.  Unfortunately, this file-transfer process does not yet
work with all public-access sites for computer programs and compressed
files.  If it doesn't work with yours, you'll have to get the file the
old-fashioned way, via anonymous ftp.
     In addition to ftp sites, there are hundreds of databases and
libraries around the world accessible through gophers.  There is not yet
a common gopher interface for library catalogs, so be prepared to follow
the online directions more closely when you use gopher to connect to
     Gopher menu entries that end in a / are gateways to another menu of
options.  Entries that end in a period are text, graphics or program
files, which you can retrieve to your home directory (or e-mail to
yourself or to somebody else).  A line that ends in <?> or <CSO>
represents a request you can make to a database for information.  The
difference is that <?> entries call up one-line interfaces in which you
can search for a keyword or words, while <CSO> brings up an electronic
form with several fields for you to fill out (you might see this in
online "White Pages" directories at colleges).
     Gophers actually let you perform some relatively sophisticated
Boolean searches.  For example, if you want to search only for files that
contain the words "MS-DOS" and "Macintosh," you'd type

        ms-dos and macintosh

(gophers are not case-sensitive) in the keyword field.  Alternately, if
you want to get a list of files that mention either "MS-DOS" or
"Macintosh," you'd type

        ms-dos or macintosh