Gritty's Blog

I've been spending a lot of time on the #gemini protocol this past year, and I'm writing this post on my normal blog so that the search engine crawlers index this page for those that may be interested in it. While I know there are other introductory pages – which I'll link here as well – I feel like this is my contribution on getting the message out. If you happen to be on my gopher:// mirror of this site, just simply drop in https:// instead on a normal browser.

What is the Gemini Protocol?

Gemini FAQ on Circumlunar

Why use Gemini?

A lot of folks are disenfranchised with how the web is today. This is a mix of new and old internet users alike. As you can imagine, the old-heads that saw the internet blossom and loved the promise of a great new world, are now disenfranchised and looking to escape back to what the internet used to be: controlled by individuals, not by corporations greedily collecting your data so they can make money off of you. There's also a surprising group of younger internet citizens that grew up with a cellphone in their hand and internet all around them. They, too, it seems, see the insidious side of the internet and wish to connect with people, not endless status updates.

The second group, which also intersects with the first, are the people who like the cleanliness of text-only presentation. These are the folks that love command line and using text files. They probably use a todo.txt as well.

In a world of flashy websites, content can easily be lacking and overlooked. In the world of Gopher and Gemini, however, content is king because if you have no content there's really nothing to post.

Another group are the ones that love to blog, but they, too, felt lost at sea in the glut of the internet. Since gemini and gopher are much smaller, the interactions are admittedly less, but they are more meaningful because they are real people who stopped by to read your 5000 word #gemlog (gemini's version of a blog), and it struck a chord with them. If they take the time to fire up their email program to write you a response, you can guarantee it means a bit more than the comment section on most internet blogs.

Another reason people join is the clear lack of algorithms feeding you content. Almost everything in Gemini is pull versus push. What this means is that you have to find content instead of it being firehosed to your screen. And why would you want this? It slows you down, and it makes you the curator of your own reading lists. Part of the fun of the old internet, they say, was that you had to DIG to find content, and that the digging was part of best things of the internet then, because when you found a gem or goldmine, it meant that much more to you. That's not to say there aren't any push capabilities; there are at least 4 search engines that I know about, and several content aggregators (think #RSS feeds), and a social microblog site called Station. While these are technically centralizing parts of Gemini (and there have been many discussions about this on Gemini, both pro and con), I think they provide a modicum of convenience while sidestepping most of the bad parts of the highly centralized web.

Generally though, Gemini is just not what most people are looking for, and that's okay. It's draw, for me, is the fact that it's a small (but far from exclusive) community of people, and not big corporations and algorithms.

What can I do on Gemini?

Gemlogs (Gemini Blogs)

A lot of people on Gemini write long-form #gemlogs, which are just Gemini versions of Blogs. Gemini, however, is NOT just a blogosphere on a lesser-known internet protocol, but it does make up a lot of the content on there. When I was first joining Gemini I wasn't much of a writer, but after a while I felt encouraged to write down a few thoughts here and there. People use their gemlogs for a whole host of things that they would use a blog. such as: * Journaling thoughts, talking about your day, etc. * Note taking – this is pretty popular for those people that need a technical reference for themselves and others while the figure out a system or coding, etc.

You can subscribe to gemlogs if they are in the proper gemlog format or if the owner put the logs into an Atom feed

gemlog format for subscribing

Tinylog (microblog)

Gemini also has a version of microblogging called #tinylogs. These are shorter-form posts that don't warrant a full-fledged post. Think Twitter or Mastodon, but stripped waaayyy down to the basics. If you have your own site (or capsule as they are called in Gemini), you can start your own in a single text file, or there's a site called Station that is the closest thing Gemini has to a social network. Station is a microblog-style site that lets you post tinylogs and to like, comment, and subscribe to other people's tinylogs. Gemini is so small that the front page feed only gets a few updates a day and is easily digestable.

If you make your own tinylog on your website, there's a way you can subscribe to other tinylogs and view them as a timeline (otherwise you have to constantly check the tinylogs of others that you like). The two programs are called #gtl and #lace.

Tinylog format / RFC Tinlylog tools


SpellBinding My favorite all-time game on Gemini is #Spellbinding. It's a word game where you are given seven letters in a circle with one letter in the middle, and you must make as many words as possible using the center letter. words must be 4+ letters.

you'll need a Gemini browser to access the link below: gemini://

Wordo A wordle clone for Gemini gemini://

There are also some MUDs and other things I haven't explored yet.

Getting Started

If you're interested in getting started, here's my quickstart:

Get a browser

Lagrange. Just use this, it's the best one out there for mobile and desktop Lagrange Gemini Browser

Find some content

Point your browser to: * Antenna – content aggregator: gemini:// * Cosmos – content super aggregator: gemini:// * – search engine: gemini://

Setup a capsule SmolPub

Other Getting Started Guides

Awesome Gemini – Links Gemini Quickstart


Not a lot of folks use the finger command or protocol these days; however, I've been delving into the #smallweb / smolweb (i.e., the Gemini Protocol) for the past year and noticed a few people have revived this ancient protocol for status updates. I figured I'd give it a shot, and I thought it would be simple, but the lack of guidance really hindered me for a bit.

If you're wondering, efingerd / fingerd (the original) simply enables people outside of your own linux machine to use the finger command, just remotely.


Finger / efingerd is not installed on Ubuntu 22.10 by default so you have to install it:

$ sudo apt-get install finger
$ sudo apt-get install efingerd

Other finger daemons

This post only goes over efingerd, but if you want to see what other finger daemons are available:

$ apt search fingerd

Enabling efingerd

On Ubuntu 22.10, the install script should automatically update your /etc/inetd.conf file with the necessary configuration. One thing I learned is that these old programs are launched by another wrapper daemon, namely tcpd. I really tried getting cfingerd to work with systemd, xinetd, and inetd, but I kept getting errors, so I went with efingerd in the end.

If you check out /etc/inetd.conf, you'll see this line added:

:INFO: Info services
finger   stream  tcp  nowait   efingerd  /usr/sbin/tcpd   /usr/sbin/efingerd 

which I edited to:

:INFO: Info services
finger   stream  tcp  nowait   root  /usr/sbin/tcpd   /usr/sbin/efingerd -u -t 5  
  • -u prevents users from using the executable ~/.efingerd file
  • -t 5 sets the connection timeout
  • I also changed user to root (which most other finger daemons run as) so that each user's home directory could be read by the bash scripts, otherwise the user efingerd can't see into those.

Enabling the Service

$ sudo systemctl inetd restart

Checking the service

$ sudo journalctl -f -u inetd


$ sudo systemctl status inetd

Configuring efingerd

make all files in /etc/efingerd executeable

sudo chmod +x /etc/efingerd/

edit them – there are a few test commands in there... check out the manpage for what they do

I pretty much got rid of everything (finger shows users logged in and their IP addresses) and crafted my own scripts inside the files to read the user's directory for the .plan, .project. and .pgpkey files, and display them if they exist.

Open port in firewall

$ sudo ufw enable 79/tcp

Testing efingerd

try to finger your server:

finger @<your server>

(responds with whatever is in “list”)


finger <user>@<your server>

(responds with whatever is in “luser”)

Addendum – happynetbox

I reached out to the owner of happynetbox [1], a web front-end to finger where you can sign up for your own account and have a finger account purely through the web. I found this site because of ~ruario's posting on #antenna where they were testing if antenna would allow a finger:// submission. Anyways, the owner responded to me and said they used a Node project on github as a baseline for that entire site, which, might actally be easier than setting up 30 year old finger programs on today's systems. The site can be found here: * Simple Node.js finger server * Happynetbox

After some fighting with the “simple” install, I finally have a working Writefreely instance on my server with SSL.