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Joining Gemini Space and Reading Over Encrypted Connection Without Unnecessary Clutter

Summary: Gemini space (some spell it Geminispace) is expanding and software for browsing Gemini capsules (client/browser) has matured to the point where it's very easy to join in, no matter what operating system one uses

WITH over 100,000 page requests from 1,100 unique addresses (gemini://gemini.techrights.org) in less than 4 weeks we've convinced ourselves that Gemini protocol isn't a waste of time and isn't a passing fad. It's expanding. The Gemini space is still in a state of expansion. We see more articles about it, we see more articles in it, we see more people getting involved at various capacities (some compose pages, some code, some promote, and some contribute to the formulation of a future standard).



"We recognise the fact that many people are uninterested or even intimidated by Gemini because it's new and scarcely understood."We wrote about gemini:// yesterday and we try to write about it at least once a week (it used to be once a day, but we've run out of unique things to say).

We recognise the fact that many people are uninterested or even intimidated by Gemini because it's new and scarcely understood. For this reason, we've decided to reproduce below a new quickstart guide from Jason McBrayer (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License). We've copied it verbatim below.




What is Gemini?



Gemini is a new way of using the Internet, separate from the World Wide Web you are familiar with. Compared to the WWW, it is intended to be:



More details are in the Official Gemini FAQ. Be aware that it’s targeted at a more technical audience than this quick start page, so you might want to skip it for now and come back later. The main thing to know is that you’re going to get a much more stripped-down experience compared to the modern WWW, but that’s okay! Some of the choices made to keep Gemini simple may seem too extreme, compared to even a bare-bones web site, but there are hidden benefits that won’t be obvious at first.



How do I read pages on Gemini?



The first thing to do is to install a Gemini client. A Gemini client is like a web browser, except instead of browsing the web, it browses Geminispace. There are at least a couple of Gemini clients available for most platforms. Here, I’m going to recommend just one, that I think will feel most familiar or least surprising to new users. That doesn’t mean I think the other ones are bad. A lot of it is just personal preference, just like with web browsers. After you get used to Gemini with the client I recommend, you may want to try some others.



You may be used to doing everything in the web browser, and find it strange or uncomfortable to have to install a different program to read Gemini pages. But you’ll get used to it; the WWW tries to be everything to everyone, both a floor-wax and a toothpaste, while Gemini tries to be good at just one thing.



Windows



You have several options for a Gemini browser on Windows, but I’m going to recommend that you install Geminaut, because of its comfortable, Windows-native user interface. Download and run the latest MSI file from the website. You will get a warning that the installer isn’t signed, which is because the developer is an independent hobbyist. If you downloaded it directly from the link above, it should be safe to “run anyway”.



A screenshot of GemiNaut on Windows 10




Lagrange is another good option – it has more features and is lightweight, but the user interface isn’t native like GemiNaut’s. There is also a nightly build of Kristall.



MacOS



There are several Gemini clients that can be built for MacOS, but the only one I know of that provides pre-built downloads for a released version is Lagrange. That’s okay, because Lagrange is a very good browser. The UI doesn’t use native controls, but it’s light and fast.





A screenshot of Lagrange on MacOS


Another screenshot of Lagrange on MacOS




There may also be nightly builds of Kristall, if you’re so inclined.



iOS



There is one Gemini client on the app store, called Elaho. There is another one on TestFlight called Rocketeer.





A screenshot of Elaho on iPhone




Android

For Android, I recommend Ariane. The developer’s site has several different download options, but if you are at all unsure, you should install from Google Play.



Deedum is also a good client for Android, but its UI is not quite as simple.





A screenshot of Ariane on Android 10


A screenshot of deedum on Android 10




GNU/Linux or Unix (desktop GUI)

If you’re able to compile programs from source, you are spoiled for choice. Most Gemini clients are developed for Linux. The main GUI choices are:



If you need a binary release, you will probably need to install Lagrange. Lagrange is on FlatHub, so if your distribution supports FlatPaks, you’re in luck. There is also a nightly AppImage of Kristall, if you prefer.





A screenshot of Lagrange on Linux (sway)


A screenshot of kristall


A screenshot of castor, with quite an odd GTK theme




GNU/Linux or Unix (terminal or console)



The situation here is similar to Linux GUI clients, but there are at least two that have binary releases:



If you’re not sure which you want, go for Amfora; it has more familiar keybindings than Bombadillo.



Other

If there’s no Gemini client for your platform, but there is a web browser, you can use a proxy. Either portal.mozz.us or proxy.vulpes.one should work for your needs.



You shouldn’t use a proxy just because you don’t want to install a Gemini client, though! You will miss out on the experience of not using the web browser.



Where do I point my Gemini client?



By now, you should have a Gemini client installed. If you’ve tried to install one, but gotten stuck, please feel free to give me an email at help@geminiquickst.art. I don’t mind! You can do this next part using one of the web portals, but it would be better if you had a real client installed.



First, open up your Gemini client, and arrange it so that you can see both the Gemini client and the web browser you’re reading this in. You should be able to follow the rest of this tutorial in Gemini. In your Gemini client, open gemini://geminiquickst.art/. You may or may not be able to click on that link from your web browser and have it open up in your Gemini client, depending on a lot of nerd stuff that you don’t have to care about now. If it doesn’t open up on click, copy and paste gemini://geminiquickst.art/ into your Gemini client. You should get a page that’s pretty much the same as this one, though the colors and fonts may be different. Scroll it down until you reach this point, then read the rest of your page in your Gemini client, rather than your web browser.



Where do I find things to read on Gemini?



Gemini is pretty new, so like the early web, there’s not as much content as you’re used to on the modern web, and too much of it is tech stuff. But there’s a lot of other stuff there too, if you’re willing to look.



Gemlogs (like blogs)



One of the main things people have been using Gemini for is blogging. And it makes sense, because blogs are mostly text, it’s easy to find updates, and the web has made a real mess of it, where it hasn’t completely abandoned it to social media.

Several of the clients recommended above have built in feed-readers for subscribing to gemlogs and staying informed about updates. If yours does, I recommend that you take advantage of that feature as you find gemlogs you want to read. It will be more flexible than depending on a feed aggregator hosted by someone else, and easier than setting up your own feed aggregator.

But to find feeds to subscribe to, you’re best off starting with an aggregator someone else is running. This is a list of well-known public aggregators in Geminispace.



Curated directories of interesting pages by topic



Because Geminispace is a lot smaller than the web, it’s still somewhat possible to hand-curate a list of interesting sites. You may remember how Yahoo! got its start as a curated index of links by topic.





Searching

You can also search Gemini, just like you can search the web. However, it’s not indexed by Google or Bing or DuckDuckGo; we have our own search engines. Or rather, search engine. There have been three search engines built for Gemini, but only one is currently active: Geminispace.info.



That said, search is not as important, currently, on Gemini as it is on the WWW. Subscriptions and cross-site links are the main ways of finding new things.



How do I publish/share things on Gemini?

This part is a little harder, but people are busily working on making it easier! The first thing that you should know is that there’s no direct equivalent of the WWW’s social media sites on Gemini. Gemini doesn’t have a built-in method for posting things, so most people posting on Gemini right now are using separate tools to write their pages or posts and to upload them to a server. And that’s leaving out registering an account on the server, which is usually done manually by the site owner! But that situation is going to get better. Right now, there are a few Gemini sites where the “separate tools” for registering an account and posting pages or updates are web applications, and it’s likely that someone will make an integrated native application.



Gemini sites with WWW applications for posting



Gemini sites with public account signup

Shared hosting on Gemini today is pretty similar to shared hosting on the WWW in 1999, but in general more community-oriented and friendlier. If you think of these sites as being like GeoCities, but without neon backgrounds and blinking “under construction” GIFs, you won’t be too far wrong.

With these sites, you will sign up, either via the web or email, and have a space that you can access with a native graphical file transfer application such as FileZilla (Windows, MacOS, or Linux). You’ll write Gemtext documents on your own computer, then copy them to your host with Filezilla or a similar program. Some of these sites will want you to send an SSH public key, which may sound too technical, but Digital Ocean has a pretty good guide to using them with FileZilla. It’s focused on their own VPS service, but most of it should apply here, too.

One warning – if you’re on Windows and you’re not careful with how you install Filezilla, you may end up with some additional bundled software you don’t want. For Windows users, I recommend Winscp as an alternative.



Pubnixes and Tildes

A pubnix is a PUBlic uNIX server, a kind of shared computer for use by members of a community. They’re usually used by logging in to a terminal interface using an SSH (secure shell) client. That’s actually a very good way to dip your toes into the more technical side of Gemini (and Gopher, and WWW) hosting, but it’s understandable if it’s not for you. Many pubnixes offer Gemini hosting to their members.



These are a few pubnixes with Gemini hosting:





Self-hosting guides (here be monsters)

It’s not hard, as these things go to set up a Gemini server on a VPS (Virtual Private Server), a collocated server, or a Raspberry Pi in a shoebox under the bookshelf your router sits on. However “as these things go” covers a lot of evils. You’ll generally need to be familiar with the Unix or Linux command-line, installing software from a distribution repository, and with compiling software from source.

I do not yet have any How-To documents collected for self-hosting a Gemini server. Please let me know if you find or write one!



Conclusion

That’s it! Hopefully by this point you have found some things you want to read on Gemini, ideally things you’ve subscribed to that will keep you coming back. And if things have gone really well, you’ll have established a foothold of your on in Geminispace, and I’ll be reading something you’ve shared in not too long.

If any of the steps in this document were unclear or you need help for another reason, please feel free to email help@geminiquickst.art.

If you see something that’s missing (like a hosting site you want to recommend), or something wrong, please mail info@geminiquickst.art.

Thank you for reading! See you out there!




۩ Jason McBrayer, 2021 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License



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