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22 April 2021

(UPDATE on May 02: starting on June 01, sourcehut.org will now be a paid option)

Hosting a capsule on gemini

Ok, so there are quite some terms to explain first. Even though I am a space biologist, I do not plan on talking about space-related things here and the gemini capsule is not referencing to the NASA gemini program. Gemini in this context is the internet protocol introduced in June 2019. So why do one even need a new protocol? The answer is drastically simple: we do not need it. As the gemini protocol itself claims it is "heavier than gopher, lighter than the web, but will not replace either. It strives for maximum power to weight ratio and takes user privacy very seriously". That's all. A pretty simple solution for a pretty simple protocol.

Indeed, gemini hosts websites which are called capsules and these capsules are text-based only. The only fancy add-on you will get is some markdown formatting (and not even all of it). Don't expect to see the web there as you know it but as some of you may have known it. Welcome back to the 90's. We are litterally going back to the origins of the internet where only users posted stuff online and promote themselves by linking others' sites on their homepage. A time when there was no way of earning money out of a website, when the race to popularity did not exist, when the only motivation of publishers was sharing their experience with others. That's all gemini will offer you.

So if you are ready to live the adventure of sharing for free with no search for recognition then you just find a place. Then where do you start? Like any other website, you have different options to host it and get a domain name but that is not the point of this post. I just want to share what I have tried so far as a super noob to the gemini protocol and for that reason I wanted to keep things very simple so far. Here are my 4 experiences. They are all free [see update at the top of this post] and open-source and you can check them from your regular http(s) browser:

1) gemlog.blue: offers a very basic online graphical interface where you can create/edit/delete posts. Every time you create one you will get its id number.

The good:

* super easy too use

* appropriate to publish posts one after the other with no links between them (may be great for a diary for example)

Why did I move from it:

* you cannot create folders to group your posts

* it is hard to build an architecture from random big id numbers which you have to write down somewhere is you ant to retrieve them later (unless you open your homepage in a client like portal.mozz.us for example)

2) pollux.casa: is a simple but AWESOME site and log builder for the Gemini network. It offers a simple web interface where you can do the same as with gemlog.blue but you are not dealing with random ids anymore for your posts. You named them as you like. You can also manage folders and move your posts from one to the other. It is so simple and clean that you can easily use it from your phone if you want.

The good:

* the maintainer is super reactive and very friendly

* you are in full control of your posts and the architecture of your capsule

* you can push / pull files using a sftp client

* you can use your own domain name

The missing parts:

* nothing

3) sourcehut.org: is a suite of open source tools and not only a capsule host. Actually this part may be a very small one compare to the rest of what this website offers.

The good:

* you are in full control of your files through a git repository so you can control them remotely

* you can build a complex capsule architecture

* you can host both a http(s) and gemini version of your site in the same place. Reaching your site at the same address will bring your visitor to the http(s) or gemini version thanks to your index files (index.html or index.gmi)

I would add to make sure that you have the following lines in your .build.yml according to your usage:

acurl -f https://pages.sr.ht/publish/$site -Fcontent=@site.tar.gz -Fprotocol=HTTTPS

acurl -f https://pages.sr.ht/publish/$site -Fcontent=@site.tar.gz -Fprotocol=GEMINI

What's next:

* instructions on how to host your own capsule is somehow difficult to find. I would recommend following the very simple ones from Christian Cleberg


And to conclude, here are some gemini clients to access the wonderful world of capsules (note that this list is far from complete and will for sure evolved as gemini develops):

Online proxy:

* portal.mozz.us

Linux GUI clients:

* lagrange

* castor

* kristall

Linux terminal clients:

* amfora

* asuka

* elpher

Firefox extension:

* Geminize extension for Firefox

Android clients:

* xenia

* deedum

📬 contact me: wwwgem@disroot.org

Valid XHTML Basic 1.0

🪧 gemini://www-gem.pollux.casa/system/02-Gem_Hostsus.gmi