FTP user manual

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FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and is a rather old internet standard for transfering files between two computers. FTP predates the World Wide Web, that's why Aminet started out as a network of FTP servers long before it got a web interface.

These days, you no longer need to rely on FTP to download or upload programs from/to Aminet. But FTP might still be useful if you need to transfer lots of files at once, as most FTP clients are perfectly capable of transfering lots of files without requiring any user interaction between the individual downloads.

The basics

To connect to a FTP server such as Aminet, you need a FTP client. With such a client, you can connect to the server, browse through its directory structure and download or upload files.

Deprecated text

NOTE: This page urgently needs to be rewritten, it currently shows the old FTP.readme written by Urban Mueller, last updated in early 1997

Updated: Jan 97
  - File splitting methods (Chapter 9)
Updated: Dec 95
  - GUI FTP clients mentioned (Chapter 1)
  - New FTP site list (Chapter 3)
0. Contents
1. Introduction
2. FTP command list
3. Important sites
4. A Sample Session
5. The .netrc File
6. Archivers
7. The Archie Database
8. Mailservers
9. Transferring to Amiga
1. Introduction
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.  The program with the same name,
'ftp', allows you to gain access to some other machines and store and/or
retrieve files.  If you have a computer with a connection to the Internet,
and a program called 'ftp' on that computer, you're almost done. There
are some other 'ftp' programs ('ncftp', 'AmFTP', 'AmiFTP', 'DaFTP' and
'GUI-FTP' on the Amiga, 'WS-FTP' on the PC, 'NCSA telnet' and 'fetch'
on the Mac). If you have none of these, you have to get the files by mail:
see the section 'Mailservers', below.
In this document, we refer to two computers:
o       The 'local machine' is the computer that you are physically logged
        in on.
o       The 'remote machine' is the computer that you are contacting via
        your local machine.  It might be right next door, or thousands of
        kilometers away!  Using 'ftp', you can transfer files from the
        remote machine to your local machine, or from your local machine to
        the remote machine.
Normally, one needs an account on a remote machine to use it.  However, a
number of machines on the Internet allow anybody to log in as the user 'ftp'
or 'anonymous'.  When you log in using the anonymous account, you'll be
prompted for a password.  You should type your local login name as the
password, especially when you upload (ie send files).  After doing so,
you may retrieve all files found in public areas on the remote machine.
Doing this is commonly called 'using anonymous ftp' or 'doing some
anonymous ftp-ing'.
The ftp program gives you a prompt that looks like this:
At this prompt, you can type commands to connect to remote machines, upload
and download files, etc.
If you're on a UNIX system, you may want to look at the 'GUI' Aminet
frontend instead of using FTP. Just compile pub/aminet/misc/unix/adt.c
from Aminet (ftp.wustl.edu) on your UNIX box.
Another nice way to access FTP sites is FTPMount (comm/tcp/FTPMount*).
FTPMount is an FTP client implemented as a filesystem. Mounted as FTP:, it
allows you to access FTP sites as if they were DOS devices, meaning that
you are not tied to one FTP client but can use Workbench, DOpus, Shell or
whatever you like for your FTP access. Downloading and extracting an Lha
archive can be done as simple as
   Lha x ftp://ftp.wustl.edu/pub/aminet/mus/midi/GMPlay.lha
without wasting the time and disk space to download the file first.
2. FTP command List
Here are some important commands you'll need within ftp.  In these examples,
any words given inside angled brackets <like this> are like variables
that stand for particular values.  For example, the command
                        get <remote file name>
means you should type the word "get" followed by the name of a file that
is on the remote machine.  An actual example would be:
                        get SuperProgram.lha
Commands For Opening And Closing FTP Connections:
        open <site>
                Connects to a remote machine.  For valid sites, see below.
                Closes connection to the remote site
                Quits FTP.
                Same as bye.
Commands For Setting The Transfer Mode
                Sets the connection to binary mode for transferring non-text
                files, such as "lha", "lzh", "zoo", "arc", "dms", "zom", "Z"
                (compressed), "gz", "tar", and other archives.  See the
                "Archivers" section below.
                Sets the connection to text (ASCII) mode for transferring
                text files.
        It is OK to transfer text files in "bin" mode.  However, it is
        WRONG to transfer binary files in "asc" mode -- they will get all
        messed up.  So to be safe, you can just type "bin" at the beginning
        of each ftp session and leave it that way.
Commands For Downloading (Getting, Receiving) Files:
        get <remote file name>
                Receives the named remote file.  This command cannot
                transfer multiple files at a time; for that, see "mget".
                If you specify a second argument, it will be used as the
                name for the local file.  (By default, the local file has
                the same name as the remote file.)
        mget <remote file 1> <remote file 2> ...
                Receives all the above remote files with a single command.
        mget <pattern>
                Receives all the remote files whose names match <pattern>.
                Patterns may include the symbols
                        *       stands for any sequence of characters
                        ?       stands for any 1 character
                For example, if you wanted to download all files that
                begin with "B" and end with ".lzh", type:
                        mget B*.lzh
                To download all files whose names are exactly 4 characters
                long, type:
                        mget ????
                You will be prompted before each file is downloaded.
                To turn off this prompting, see the "prompt" command below.
Commands For Uploading (Putting, Sending) Files
        put <local file name>
                Transmits the local file to the remote machine.
                This works for only one file at a time, similarly to the
                way "get" works.
                If you specify a second argument, it will be used as the
                name for the remote file.  (By default, the remote file has
                the same name as the local file.)
        mput <local file 1> <local file 2> ...etc.
                Transmits all the above local files to the remote machine
                with a single command.
        mput <pattern>
                Transmits all local files whose names match the given
                pattern.  See the "mget" command, above, for information
                about patterns.
Additional Commands For Uploading And Downloading
                Normally, mget and mput will prompt you before transferring
                each file.  If you don't like this, the 'prompt' command
                toggles the prompting on and off.
                Normally, files are downloaded silently.  Typing the 'hash'
                command will cause a 'hash mark' to be printed every so
                often, indicating how much downloading has completed so far.
                Typing this command again toggles the hash marks on and off.
Commands For Exploring The Local And Remote Machines
        Files on the remote machine (and probably your local machine too)
        are organized in directories.  Here is how to navigate those
        directories and view their contents.
        dir <pattern>
                Lists files in the current directory of the remote machine.
                See "mget", above, for information about patterns.
        ls <pattern>
                Same as "dir", but list the files in a short format.
        cd <directory name>
                Changes your current directory on the remote machine.
        lcd <directory name>
                Changes your current directory on the local machine
        mkdir <directory name>
                Creates a new directory on the remote machine.  This will
                not work if you do not have permission to do it on the
                remote machine.
Some Special And Helpful Functions
o       There are some special arguments you can add to the 'get' command.
        If you type:
                        get myfile -
        then file 'myfile' will be displayed on your screen instead of
        downloaded.  If you would like this file to be displayed one
        screen at a time, pausing after each screenful, type
                        get myfile |more
        [NOTE -- NO SPACE BETWEEN THE '|' and 'more'].  This latter command
        may not work on all remote machines.
o       Also note that the ls and dir commands take only one argument.  This
        can be either an option or a pattern, BUT NOT BOTH.  If you give a
        second argument, this will be interpreted as a local filename, and
        the directory listing will be stored in that local file instead of
        displayed on your screen. Fix: If you have multiple arguments,
        enclose them in double quotes.
3. Important Sites
Location     Name             Alias                     IP              Files
USA          us.aminet.net    ftp.wustl.edu        ALL
Germany      de.aminet.net    ftp.uni-paderborn.de     ALL
UK           uk.aminet.net    ftp.plig.net           ALL
Italy        it.aminet.net    ftp.unina.it         ALL
Sweden       se.aminet.net    ftp.sunet.se          ALL
France       fr.aminet.net    aminet.club-internet.fr     ALL
USA          us2.aminet.net   aminet.hack.net     ALL
Germany      de1.aminet.net   ftp.xnc.com          ALL
Germany      de2.aminet.net   ftp.cs.tu-berlin.de   35000
Germany      de3.aminet.net   ftp.uni-erlangen.de    35000
Germany      de5.aminet.net   ftp.uni-bremen.de    2500
Germany*     de6.aminet.net   ftp.uni-stuttgart.de     2000
Germany      de7.aminet.net   aminet.a500.de     2000
The above group of sites together are called 'Aminet'.  You find the Amiga
files in the pub/aminet/ directory on each site. They all contain the same
files (through a process called 'mirroring'), although most of them delete
older files.
4. A Sample Session
This is an example FTP session.  What you have to type is given in square
brackets, on a line by itself, like this:
   [Here is something that you would type]
Everything else is displayed by the computer.  FTP output is often preceded
by strange numbers like "220" and "150" -- you can ignore these.
The example begins here.
     [open wuarchive.wustl.edu]
Connected to wuarchive.wustl.edu.
220 amiga FTP server (Version 5.60.97 Wed Dec 9 22:23:21 MET 1992) ready.
Name (amiga:umueller):
331 Guest login ok, send your userid as password.
230- Welcome to amiga.physik anonymous FTP server
230-      .....
230 Guest login ok, access restrictions apply.
     [cd pub/aminet]
250 CWD command successful.
     [get RECENT |more]
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for RECENT (5676 bytes).
| Recent uploads to wuarchive.wustl.edu [] on 11-Dec-1992
| The last 7 days' uploads, newest first. Blank line=new day, + = long .readme
|File                Dir        Size Description
|------------------- ---        ---- -----------
tiff2iff.lha         gfx/conv     7K Converts TIFF files to Amiga IFF
DNetIRCpic.lzh       comm/net    16K Demo picture of DNet IRC
DNetIRC.lha          comm/net    88K+IRC intuition DNet client (dnetlib.o neede
ICoons_Nofp.lzh      gfx/3d     172K+Spline based object modeller (no 68881 nee
1993.lha             mods/u4ia  109K+ProTracker Module By U4ia called '1993'
skick321.lha         os20/util   37K+Soft-kicker under OS 2.0 - new release
monoxyde.dms         demo/mega  477K+MONOXYDE - new demo by Vanish
baudbandit1.4b.lha   comm/misc   16K+Version 1.4b of baudbandit.device
jed206b.lha          util/edit  144K+programmable, programmers editor. OS2.0+
226 Transfer complete.
local: |more remote: RECENT
5763 bytes received in 4.5 seconds (1.2 Kbytes/s)
     [cd game/think]
250 CWD command successful.
200 Type set to I.
     [get t-triz.lzh]
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for t-triz.lzh (56496 bytes).
226 Transfer complete.
local: t-triz.lzh remote: t-triz.lzh
56496 bytes received in 0.43 seconds (1.3e+02 Kbytes/s)
221 Goodbye.
This is the end of of the sample session.
If you're looking for something specific on that site, check the appropriate
directory (using the 'cd' and 'ls' commands), or download the remote files
'INDEX', 'LOCAL' or 'ls-lR.Z'.  You can then use a program such as the UNIX
'grep' to search for filenames in them.  (Type 'man grep' in the UNIX shell
to learn about grep).
5. The .netrc File
If you put a file named .netrc in your home directory on the local machine,
it will make your ftp life easier.  Just put into this file all information
about how to log in at your favourite FTP site, and it'll be done
automatically when you ftp to that site.
After you create the .netrc file, you have to 'chmod 600 .netrc' or it won't
be accepted:
                chmod 600 .netrc
Here's an example .netrc file to log onto the machine wuarchive.wustl.edu.
It also defines a macro called 'init' that turns on binary mode and changes
your remote directory to pub/aminet.  To use this macro after you are logged
into the remote machine, just type
machine wuarchive.wustl.edu
login ftp
password kdalton
macdef init
cd pub/aminet
Make sure you put a blank line after the last command, or else it won't work
properly.  Also, remember to set the password to your login name.
6. Archivers
Most files on FTP sites store their files in archived (compressed) format.
You can recognize the archiver used by the ending of the file name.  These
are the most important ones:
Suffix  Archiver        Filename on Aminet
.lzh    LhA             LhA_e138.run
.lha    LhA             LhA_e138.run
.zoo    Zoo             zoo2-10.lzh
.zip    Zip             unzip-4.1.lzh
.lzx    LZX             lzx121.lha
.dms    DMS             dms111.sfx
.run    (LhA)           -
.sfx    (LhA)           -
.tar.Z  tar, compress   tar-compress.lzh
.gz     GNU Zip         gzip124x.lha
The AmigaDOS versions of those archivers can be found on the AmiNet sites
(see above) in the directory pub/aminet/util/arc, except for GNU Zip which
is found in pub/aminet/util/pack.  To give you a start, LhA is also stored
in self-extracting form (.run or .sfx).  Just execute it to extract it.
UNIX versions of most of these archivers are available.  You can get them
from wuarchive.wustl.edu in the directory /pub/aminet/misc/unix/, or if
they're not there, use archie (see below) to find them. The files names are:
LhA  lha-1.00.tar.Z
Zoo  zoo-2.10.tar.Z
Zip  unzip41.tar.Z
Dms  dmscheck.c.Z
7. The Archie Database
There is a database of all files on all FTP sites worldwide, called 'archie'.
They have a mailserver, a telnet service, and a client software.  Telnet to
archie.sura.net and log in as 'archie', or send mail containing HELP in its
body to archie@quiche.cs.mcgill.ca.  You'll get more information that way.
However I no longer recommend the use of archie for Amiga files, the Aminet
search facilities are sufficient.
8. Mailservers
Some sites allow sending them magic mail messages which cause them to FTP
things from other sites, uuencode them, and send them to you.  Others only
send the files stored locally at that site.  Here are the most important mail
servers.  Send a mail containing HELP in its body to find out more about them
(note that many German links are slow):
These Aminet sites offer binaries by email. (Mail servers only send you
files from that site while ftpmail services can connect to others)
  ftpmail@doc.ic.ac.uk              (Keeps complete Aminet locally)
  ftpmail@ftp.unina.it              (Keeps complete Aminet locally)
And here some other ftpmail services that you can use to connect to Aminet
9. Transferring to Amiga
After you have the files on your UNIX account, you need to get the files
home.  Most Amiga terminal programs have one or more ways to transfer files
to your Amiga.  Read your terminal program documentation for more
One recommended method is to use ZModem.  If your local machine has the
'sz' command, and your terminal program supports ZModem, you are set.
To download the file 'whatever.lzh' to your Amiga, type:
                sz whatever.lzh
and then use your terminal program to receive it.  If your site does not
have 'sz', you can get it from krynn.efd.lth.se in the file
/pub/modem/rzsz9107.tar.Z.  Compile it, or use archie to find a version
specific for your UNIX flavor.
In the worst case, you can turn on your terminal program's "screen capture"
feature and type:
        uuencode <filename filename
to get your file typed to the screen in 'uuencoded' format.  On your Amiga,
uudecode the file (using uudecode from Fish Disk 92).  Also, some sites
still use 'kermit'. If you have a program of that name, you can use one of
the Amiga kermit implementations found on Aminet to get files home.
If you don't have a modem, you can try to find a workstation with 3.5"
floppy drive.  Sun 4 computers have them.  There you can either use the
program mtools (try 'man mcopy') to store the files in MSDOS format and
retrieve them using MSH (Fish Disk 382) or CrossDOS (included with AmigaDOS
2.1 and higher), or you use gnu tar (UNIX version to be found on
decuac.dec.com, /pub/binaries/gnutar-1.10.tar.Z) to store files on the disk
in .tar format using the command 'gtar cfvM /dev/rfd0c'.  Then you restore
the files with gnu gtar (found on wuarchive.wustl.edu, in the file
pub/aminet/util/gnu/gtar110.lzh) and the FLAT device (Fish Disk 535) and MSH
(or any other PC format reading tool).  Mount FLAT:, and then enter 'gtar
xfvM flat:MSH' or replace the MSH by the name of your emulation tools.
If a file is too large to fit on a floppy, you can use misc/unix/bsplit*
from Aminet to split it, and c:join under AmigaDOS to put it back together.
You could also use util/misc/chunker.lha which comes complete with source
and MSDOS binaries.
Under MSDOS, you can use the command 'backup' to save files onto floppies
and misc/emu/pcres250.lha from Aminet to restore the backups on the Amiga
side. This method automatically splits large files. Another way is to use
the utility misc/emu/splitm.zip to cut the files into handy pieces.
If you'd like some additional info to be included in this FAQ, contact
umueller@wuarchive.wustl.edu.  -Urban Mueller