⟵ Back 3 min · 2020-10-24

A few days ago, I discovered gemini for the first time. Wondering exactly how large it was, I thought I'd write a quick and dirty crawler for it, which you can find here.

Update 2021-10-20: I thought I'd mention that at the time of writing that crawler I had little to knowledge of the Gemini protocol; as a result, I omitted a lot of crucial steps when crawling (like checking the MIME type of the response), possibly leading to highly inaccurate results.

It took me an unusual amount of time to get a working crawler (I've never done network or async programming in Rust before), but at last, with the help of cadey's gemtext-parsing library, I had a prototype. I started crawling on 2020-10-22 1827, but was stopped several times by various crashes, mostly because I had made some stupid assumptions about what kind of links I'd find (for instance, that no one would put a url with just the scheme type e.g. gemini:///). Later, it crashed again, due to a bug in the gemtext crate. Turns out that gemtext assumes that you'll never find links like this:


That is, a => with no valid url following it :facepalm:

Amusingly, I had stupidly decided I didn't need a method of saving the crawler's state to a file that could be picked up later in the event of a crash; because of that, each time a crash occurred, I'd have to start over from scratch.

At last, though, it finished, after retrieving a total of 10MB of urls and their backlinks:

$ ls results.json
.rw-r--r-- 10M kiedtl 24 Oct  0:58 results.json
$ cat results.json | jq | head -n 15
  "gemini://alexschroeder.ch:1965/page/2009-12-18_Save_Web_Pages_as_PDF": {
    "visited": true,
    "found": 1,
    "refers": [
  "gemini://transjovian.org:1965/anthe/diff/Welcome/1": {
    "visited": true,
    "found": 2,
    "refers": [
$ cat results.json | jq 'keys[]' | wc -l

45,334 urls total. Neat, I had no idea gemspace was that big.

I'm not yet sure what I'm going to do with this data. Previously, I had some vague idea of setting up a small search engine, but given that I haven't the money to set up my own server or purchase a suitable domain, I don't think that'll happen. I'd hate to hog resources on a tilde.

Update 2021-10-20: note, there are at least two Gemini capsules that mirror the entire contents of Wikipedia. I'm sure a non-trivial portion of those 45,334 urls come from those capsules; I haven't checked, though.

Kiëd Llaentenn © 2019-2022 — CC BY-NC-ND 4.0