13.9 FTP Clients

FTP stands for the File Transfer Protocol. It allows you to send and receive files between two computers. There is the FTP server and the FTP client. We discuss the client in this section.

For the curious, the “client” is you. The “server” is the computer that answers your FTP request and lets you login. You will download files from and upload files to the server. The client cannot accept FTP connections, it can only connect to servers.

13.9.1 ftp

To connect to an FTP server, simply run the ftp(1) command and specify the host:

% ftp <hostname> [port]

If the host is running an FTP server, it will ask for a username and password. You can log in as yourself or as “anonymous”. Anonymous FTP sites are very popular for software archives. For example, to get Slackware Linux via FTP, you must use anonymous FTP.

Once connected, you will be at the ftp> prompt. There are special commands for FTP, but they are similar to other standard commands. The following shows some of the basic commands and what they do:

Table 13-1. ftp commands

Command Purpose
ls List files
cd <dirname> Change directory
bin Set binary transfer mode
ascii Set ASCII transfer mode
get <filename> Download a file
put <filename> Upload a file
hash Toggle hash mark stats indicator
tick Toggle byte counter indicator
prom Toggle interactive mode for downloads
mget <mask> Download a file or group of files; wildcards are allowed
mput <mask> Upload a file or group of files; wildcards are allowed
quit Log off the FTP server

You can also use some of the following commands which are quite self-explanatory: chmod, delete, rename, rmdir. For a complete list of all commands and their meaning, just type help or ? and you'll see a complete listing on screen.

FTP is a fairly simple program to use, but lacks the user interface that many of us are used to nowadays. The man page discusses some of the command line options for ftp(1).

ftp> ls *.TXT
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for /bin/ls.
-rw-r--r--   1 root     100         18606 Apr  6  2002 BOOTING.TXT
-rw-r--r--   1 root     100         10518 Jun 13  2002 COPYRIGHT.TXT
-rw-r--r--   1 root     100           602 Apr  6  2002 CRYPTO_NOTICE.TXT
-rw-r--r--   1 root     100         32431 Sep 29 02:56 FAQ.TXT
-rw-r--r--   1 root     100        499784 Mar  3 19:29 FILELIST.TXT
-rw-r--r--   1 root     100        241099 Mar  3 19:12 PACKAGES.TXT
-rw-r--r--   1 root     100         12339 Jun 19  2002 README81.TXT
-rw-r--r--   1 root     100         14826 Jun 17  2002 SPEAKUP_DOCS.TXT
-rw-r--r--   1 root     100         15434 Jun 17  2002 SPEAK_INSTALL.TXT
-rw-r--r--   1 root     100          2876 Jun 17  2002 UPGRADE.TXT
226 Transfer complete.
ftp> tick
Tick counter printing on (10240 bytes/tick increment).
ftp> get README81.TXT
local: README81.TXT remote: README81.TXT
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for README81.TXT (12339 bytes).
Bytes transferred: 12339
226 Transfer complete.
12339 bytes received in 0.208 secs (58 Kbytes/sec)

13.9.2 ncftp

ncftp(1) (pronounced "Nik-F-T-P") is an alternative to the traditional ftp client that comes with Slackware. It is still a text-based program, but offers many advantages over ftp, including:

By default, ncftp will try to log in anonymously to the server you specify. You can force ncftp to present a login prompt with the “-u” option. Once logged in, you can use the same commands as in ftp, only you'll notice a nicer interface, one that works more like bash.

ncftp /pub/linux/slackware > cd slackware-current/
Please read the file README81.TXT
  it was last modified on Wed Jun 19 16:24:21 2002 - 258 days ago
CWD command successful.
ncftp ...ware/slackware-current > ls
BOOTING.TXT               FAQ.TXT                   bootdisks/
CHECKSUMS                 FILELIST.TXT              extra/
CHECKSUMS.asc             GPG-KEY                   isolinux/
CHECKSUMS.md5             PACKAGES.TXT              kernels/
CHECKSUMS.md5.asc         PRERELEASE_NOTES          pasture/
COPYING                   README81.TXT              rootdisks/
COPYRIGHT.TXT             SPEEKUP_DOCS.TXT          slackware/
CURRENT.WARNING           Slackware-HOWTO
ChangeLog.txt             UPGRADE.TXT
ncftp ...ware/slackware-current > get README81.TXT
README81.TXT:                                           12.29 kB  307.07 kB/s