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17 Apr 2019

Gophering Guide on SDF

Setting up a Gopherhole with SDF.ORG

v1.0 2019-04-17 by spelk [1]

Gopherholes can be hosted by users with enough knowledge to run a Gopher server, however the public access UNIX server at SDF (Super Dimension Fortress) allows you to get a free user account and to setup and try out your own Gopherspace easily.


Firstly head over to [2] Create a Free Unix Shell Account - You’ll need to enter:

Email address (used to send you your password) Preferred Login [accountname]

You’ll be sent a welcome message via email from SDF Membership detailing how to log in to their server via SSH


The server to connect to will probably look like this:

ssh [accountname]@tty.sdf.org

Once logged into the SDF server shell you will have access to a lot of UNIX functionality, however we want to create a Gopherhole.

Creating a Gopherhole:

Run the command: mkgopher

This will drop you into a script shell with a simple menu to help you create and manage your Gopherhole.

Type: help for a full list of mkgopher commands.

MKGOPHER (c)2003 smj@sdf.lonestar.org - Version 4

Type HELP for Commands.


MKGOPHER (c)2003 smj@sdf.lonestar.org - Version 4

HOWTO                 - Tips on managing your GOPHERSPACE
setup                 - First step, create your GOPHERSPACE
chmod                 - Set/Restore file permissions
title                 - Title your site
describe              - Create a site description
mkdir     {directory} - Create a directory
rmdir     {directory} - Delete a directory
edit       {filename} - Publish a document
upload     {filename} - Transfer a file via ZMODEM to SDF
ls                    - List the current directory
cd        {directory} - Change directory
pwd                   - Present working directory
gopher                - Browse your site


Note: From here on in (unless specifically noted), assume that the commands I detail are typed into the MKGOPHER> script shell.

Type: setup

To create the appropriate folder structure and files for your Gopherhole. You can fill in:

title describe

to add further information about your site.

Digging the entrance to your Gopherhole:

Structurally a Gopher hole needs an entrance. You need to create a map file to show incoming rodents what is in the hole and where the deeper tunnels lead to. This file is called a ’gophermap’, and the filename should be gophermap. So you need to:

edit gophermap

This will load up a blank text file into the PICO editor (a relative of the NANO editor) - simple to use.

Mapping the Gopherhole:

Now for the good stuff. A gophermap consists of the following items separated/delimited by a <tab> character. Wherever I’ve used <tab> below, I mean press the TAB key to insert a tab character into the file.

  [id tag] [Label] <tab> [directory location] <tab> [hostname] <tab> [port]

  id tag             = Indicator as to the content
                       (0=Text File, 1=Directory/sub-menu, i=inline text or info )
                       (there are other types but these are the easy & important ones!)

  Label              = Menu label text
                       (eg. About, Blog, Links to other Gopherholes)

  directory location = Relative location on the server
                       ( /users/[accountname]/[directory]) for directory/sub-menu
                       ( /users/[accountname]/file.txt) for text file

  hostname           = the host the content is served on
                       (sdf.org or sdf.lonestar.org)

  port               = the port the content is served through
                       (usually 70)

So an example map for a Gopherhole entrance would be:

  iMy GOPHERHOLE<tab>/<tab>sdf.org<tab>70


  1My Blog<tab>/users/[accountname]/blogfiles/<tab>sdf.org<tab>70
  1My Dotfiles<tab>/users/[accountname]/dotfiles/<tab>sdf.org<tab>70

  iMy Gopher Friends<tab>/<tab>sdf.org<tab>70

  1Xpenguin Gopher<tab>/<tab>gopher.xpenguin.club<tab>70
  1Uoou Gopher<tab>/<tab>gopher.ludiclinux.com<tab>70
  1Distrotube Gopher<tab>/<tab>distro.tube<tab>70

In PICO, use Ctrl+O to Write-Out the file and Ctrl+X to eXit the editor.

As you can see the About menu item links to a text file called about.txt.. so you can use:

edit about.txt

command to create your “About me” introduction.

The Blog and Dotfiles sub-menus are pointing to directories you need to create with:

mkdir blogfiles
mkdir dotfiles

MKGOPHER should create the directories and give them appropriate permissions.

In order for your Blog and Dotfile sections to work, you’ll need to create similar gophermap files in those directories, with appropriate links to textual content, like your blog posts or your dotfiles.

You can use the MKGOPHER shell to:


To list the files/directories in the current directory. And you can:

cd blogfiles


cd dotfiles

to change into those sub-directories, where you can issue a:

edit gophermap

command to build a gopher map deeper into the hole.

This is how you create a whole warren of tunnels into your Goperhole and you entice other Gophers to run around sampling the delights of your sweet content.

Troubleshooting your tunnels:

  1. If your directories give you an Access Denied message, you may need to set the permissions manually at the UNIX shell.

In MKGOPHER, type:


This will drop you to the UNIX shell.

Your prompt will likely be something akin to this:



You’ll want to:

cd gopher
chmod +rgx blogfiles
chmod +rgx dotfiles

Go back into MKGOPHER script shell to do any editing on your gophermaps though.

  1. If your external links to other Gopher sites aren’t working, make sure you have the appropriate gopher hostname and port for the external site, and that you have ’/’ set for the directory option.

That’s all I have for now.

Supporting SDF.ORG:

Your free account will last for 600+ days, until you validate it.

You can validate it by post!! or by sending $3 via paypal or some other digital method to SDF from the donate link on their site [3]

Check out their join options if you want to support them at different levels.

Additional information:


“Phlogosphere” If you are going to use your gopherspace for blogging, type ’phlog’ at the shell to list your site in the SDF phlogosphere.

Good Luck with your Gophering!


[1] gopher://sdf.org/users/spelk [2] https://sdf.org/ [3] https://sdf.org/?join [4] https://sdf.org/?faq?GOPHER

Tags: Muse