Gemini, smolweb and the Reform

Gemini is the protocol for what might be called the “smallnet” or “smolweb”: (predominantly) text based and spyware free. Its goals seem to align very closely with that of the Reform range, and a search brings up numerous blogs and other material on MNT Reform. I am therefore surprised that a search for Gemini does not return any results on this forum.

There are Gemini browsers for all the popular OS used on Reform with the exception - to my current knowledge - of Genode/Sculpt. A simple and uncluttered browsing experience would seem to be especially valuable to the pocket reform with its screen space and power constraints.

This thread is to discuss the smolweb and its relevance to the Reform way of computing, support each other as we give it a go, and of course to share useful resources we find on Gemini.


Perhaps a good start to this thread would be specifics on how one could get setup with a Gemini browser, and take advantage of the smallnet?

Is this kind of similar to Gopher?

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It’s like Gopher, and writing a client for it might be a fun (and not so difficult) project, if it’s needed.

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For a long time, I was browsing gemini sites on my reform using the elpher package in emacs

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I have no experience with Gopher, but Gemini is apparently designed as a successor with all the benefit of hindsight. It only dates from (the admittedly halcyon pre-pandemic time!) 2019 so can be considered a clean break from the cruft of the legacy web.

There is already much choice, many written in modern languages like Go and Rust, unlike the mainstream browser engines that are likely stuck with C++ due to the size of codebase and gargantuan task of trying to start over.

I understand this is similar to the solution for 9Front, except it leverages its Acme editor. Of course being able to view Gemini content (gemtext) in text editors is considered a key feature of the protocol, but the heretic in me thinks that perhaps the tail wags the dog. A more featured lightweight markup such as Djot would allow more versatility in displaying text where the client allows it. Djot - a dialect of markdown with the kinks ironed out - was not even conceived five years ago when Gemini spec was created.

I am enjoying my first baby steps in gemini and is nostalgic to stumble around and make serendipitous discoveries like we did before the web was enshittified. I have yet to find a “killer app”, and think this requires getting my head around client certificates for identifying myself to “capsules” (gemini sites). These apparently do the job of passwords and cookies - but enforcing more respect for privacy. For those coming from the traditional web there seem to be a few concepts to grasp before true interaction and content creation can start to blossom, but I am keen to make it work for me!


for plan9/9front: