My Minimal Corner

Table of Contents

What is it all about

I found YourTilde while looking for a site offering shell access, and I was immediately intrigued. For several years, I have been using a minimal system doing most of my work with command line tools. So the idea of replacing other social media options with something like YouTilde fits my workflow, such as it is.


Why gopher

I hate windows. By that I mean windowing systems like MS Windows, and gnome each for different reasons. Too much unnecessary bling. Too much wasted space. Too dependant on palm actuated rodents. For me, and I will admit I am in the minority, a window manager should manage windows (maybe key bindings), just enough to allow me to shuffle those windows around as I need. I should never need to touch the mouse except in some case I am editing graphics with gimp or Inkscape.

I have been using i3 for about a year now, and before that I used rat killer, bspwm, and a few others. So far, I like i3wm. I haven't so much as touched an MS Windows machine since around 2008, when I left my job in IT. I have very limited need to deal with Mac OSX, but I am forced to involve myself with it. Almost everything I do, I do using a terminal.

Around 1998, I bought a book on Slackware. It included a disk. Up until that time, I had tinkered with every OS under the sun; SCO, OS2, MSDOS, PCDOS, Windows 2.0 - Windows NT 3.5, and a bunch of others I have forgotten. The great thing about that book was that it included sections on telnet, ftp, gopher, veronica, archie, etc. The great thing was that I had recently gotten a second phone line and could access the Internet through a local dial-up bbs. I neither knew, nor cared about the WWW, but these text based, menu driven gadgets were right up my alley. So much information!

Now, I have never been one of those who thinks other people need to read my every thought. It's probably gonna be a waste of time for most, but in the last few years there has been a return to minimal computing. And for me, discovering that gopher is a growing thing was fantastic. Now I have time to tinker again, I'm diving in.

What is gopher

Gopher is an application-layer protocol that provides the ability to extract and view Web documents stored on remote Web servers. Gopher was conceived in 1991 as one of the Internet’s first data/file access protocols to run on top of a TCP/IP network. It was developed at University of Minnesota and is named after the school's mascot1.

Maybe you understand that, maybe not. It's gobbledygook to me. Gopher is kinda like the browser you are familiar with, except that it is mostly only capable of displaying text (I know this is incorrect, but close enough). People share all kinds of documents, and links to other documents. Gopher serves images (sorta), PDFs, it can even do CGI. It is blazing fast.

There is nowhere near as much available via gopher as there is via WWW, but that could change.

How to access gopher servers

You just need a gopher client. There are a bunch, but I am only listing the few that I have experience with, and all those are terminal clients.

Gopher Clients

  • gopherus

    If you are using Arch you can either use pacman or yay:

    yay gopherus

    With gopherus, there is no config file. The only real config you get is changing the color scheme, which I highly recommend because the default is putrid. Something like this in your .bashrc should work:

    export GOPHERUSCOLOR="022020202002020220"
  • gild

    These instructions came from the gild github. I had no problem installing it, and it is very fancy! Lots of color. Only lynx is prettier.

    git clone
    cd ldpl/src
    cp ldpl to /usr/local/bin or something in your $PATH
  • lynx

    So yeah, lynx is lovely. Fast. Versatile. Worth having on your system if you are trying to go the minimal route and want something easy to use. Lynx, treats gopher links like web links. So to access a gopher site you press g, and type gopher://

    yay lynx
  • vf1

    vf1 is difficult and ugly. I don't think someone new to gophering would benefit from installing it. Before I found elpher I used vf1 running in eshell. It is basically a gopher shell so it worked very well in that scenario.

    For a lot of things I actually like vf1 better than anything except elpher, and in a pinch I would rather have vf1 than nothing.

    Welcome to VF-1!
    Enjoy your flight through Gopherspace...
  • cgo

    You can install cgo via pacman or yay. I use yay so:

    yay cgo-git

    cgo is a very minimal client. Very fast, very minimal help (accessed by typing ? on the prompt. It feels like vf1 but with even less usability. Again, in a pinch…do what ya gotta do.

  • elpher

    Hands down, this is my favorite. It is an emacs doodad that just plain works. And since it runs in a buffer, I can do all the things I would do to any other buffer. Bookmark, search, rgrep, blah blah blah.

    I use evil, and elpher gives me single key bindings to navigate gopherspace. Plus, evil motion keys work.

A little about my set up


I know it is a dirty word, but I've been a fan of emacs since the early 90s, and while I appreciate [g/n/]vi[m], and from time to time use it as a fall back, I prefer emacs as my main squeeze.

Like [g/n]vi[m], you can configure emacs to do absolutely anything. No matter what editor I use I make a point to learn as much as I can about it–tweak all the buttons–but I understand that some folks just want something that works out of the box.

Spacemacs and others

Just off the top of my head I can think of four ways to get up and running with emacs relatively quickly.

  1. Prelude
  2. Doom
  3. Spacemacs
  4. Sanemacs
  5. Mesk

I have tested each of these configurations, and they are all wonderful. Each one is packed with tweaks to help you feel comfortable in the strangeland of emacs. They are all unique, and works of art.

However, they can be a little overkill (like that is a thing in emacs) and I eventually settled back into my own configuration.


I use an emacs mode called org-mode for everything. In fact, this document was written using org-mode.


Figure 1: A look at the source for this document.

Org mode files are nothing but marked up text. They are human readable, and logical so even without emacs org mode files are informative.


Of course Firefox is installed on my system just in case I find something I can't do with vimb, but as yet that hasn't happened.


Figure 2: A look at vimb minimal web browser

I tried qutebrowser, but it has a weird problem involving LUA versions that I just don't feel like sorting out, and after finding vimb I'll never go back. What I like about vimb is that it uses vim key bindings out of the box.

One really nice thing about this setup is that I can make my bookmarks available system wide with either fzf, dmenu or rofi with a script like this. From there, it is a simple matter to attach this script to a hot key in whatever window manager you use (i3, or bspwm in my case).

vimb $(cat ~/.config/vimb/bookmark | dmenu | cut -f 1)



For about a year now I have been using Luke Smith's LARBS scripts to achieve my zen state. I first used LARBS on a manjaro install, but later switched to a clean Arch install after a harddrive crash.

I've modified it heavily to suit me (switching from dmenu to rofi, from firefox to vimb, neovim to emacs, etc).

I love how light weight and fast i3/LARBS is, and how it fits the way I work. I'm a fifty-year old former RPG & COBOL programmer (no I don't want a job writing either) and I've feel way more at home in a text based interface than all that pointing and clicking. Properly configured i3 hotkeys make life blazingly fast.



“What Is Gopher? - Definition from Techopedia.”,

Date: 2019-05-31

Author: L.S.Russell

Created: 2019-07-01 Mon 10:24