FTP: A very useful system of transferring files over the internet

By Danny Green, Contributing Writer, d.green7@genie.com

This article will concentrate on another excellent but often overlooked internet tool, FTP. I will show you an example of what is called "Anonymous FTP". This means that you will be dealing with a host computer on which you don't have an account.

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is used to retrieve files from another computer. The files can be retrieved in two formats, binary and text. Binary is the format programs are in (they contain non-text characters). Text is usually ASCII.

Using FTP is very easy. I will use Aminet as an example. First type "FTP aminet.com". Upon connection you will presented with a welcome screen with a banner "NETNET". This is the current home of the Aminet archives. You should see a message that says "Using binary mode to transfer files." If not you will have to change the file mode after you log on. We will get to that later. You will be prompted to enter a name. The great thing is that you have already been provided with one. (aminet.com:anonymous). Just hit return. You will them be prompted for a password. Since you are using anonymous you will be expected to input your E-mail address. Once again it should have already been put in for you. In my case it is "(d.green7@genie.com):" so just hit return. If all goes well you should get a message telling you guest logon is OK. It will also tell you that restrictions apply. The restrictions are because you do not have an account on the host computer. Don't worry, the restrictions shouldn't cause you any problems. From here on in, if you are familiar with DOS, (Amiga or MS) you will feel right at home. To get a directory you type... you guessed it... "dir". You will be presented with a list of files and directories.

drwxr-xr-x 8 38   50000  512     Jul  1 22:55 .
drwxr-xr-x 8 38   50000  512     Jul  1 22:55 ..
-rwxr-xr-x 1 38   50000  199     Sep 28 22:55 .df
drwx------ 5 103  1      1024    Jun 13 23:34 .mirror-prog
lrwxrwxrwx 1 0    1      7       Jun 12 19:45 bin - usr
d--x--x--x 2 0    3      512     Jun 12 19:49 dev
drwxr-xr-x 2 38   50000  512     Jun 13 11:45 etc
-rwxr-xr-x 1 0    1      5896494 Sep 28 22:58 ls-lsaR
-rwxr-xr-x 1 38   50000  767254  Jul  1 16:58 ls-lsaR.gz
drwxr-xr-x 14 38  50000  512     Jun 24 17:42 pub
d--x--x--x 2 0    1      512     Jun 13 11:43 shlib
d--x--x--x 4 0    1      512     Jun 14 07:24 usr
-r--r--r-- 1 38   50000  1175    Jun 21 22:29 welcome.msg

The columns contain different information on the files and directories. The important columns for our example are the first and last. If you look at the first digit in the first column you will see that some of the rows start with a "d". This tells us that is a directory. The directory we want is pub. The host that we are on is UNIX, so everything is Case sensitive. That means if you type PUB instead of pub, the system will reply that it can't find a directory PUB. Type "cd pub." This will put you in the directory pub. If you check the contents, you will find mostly directories. The one we want of course, is aminet.

Cd aminet and call up a directory and you will see the familiar list of directories and files. I recommend that you get the index. It is listed twice, once as INDEX and again as INDEX.Z. They are the same file, the "z suffix on the second one indicates that it is in a compressed format. To get the file use the "get" command. Use the format "get INDEX" or "get INDEX.Z" for whichever version you want. Unfortunately I don't know of anywhere to get a program to decompress .Z files except on Genie. If I find a site I will certainly post it. If you did not get the message "Using binary mode to transfer files" when you logged on earlier, type "binary" to switch the system. The other mode is ASCII. For a list of commands for FTP type "help". That will bring up a list of commands the system understands. Use the cdup command to get the "parent" directory of the one that you are in. For example if you are in pub/aminet/games and you want to back up to animet, type "cdup;" this will take you to the parent directory. When you are finished exploring, the command to leave is "bye". I hope you have enjoyed this quick tour.

  ______                       DannyG________////____
 |  __  \  Crew-Dog KC-10A     aka: D.Green7@Genie.Com
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