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Telnet and Ftp: Making Connections

Telnet and Ftp are two programs that allow a connection from one computer to another through the Internet. Both programs are based on a similar protocol, but offer different services.


By using Telnet, you can login to a computer anywhere on the Internet and use that computer as if you were sitting right next to it. Almost all services that the remote computer usually offers are available to you. The processing of your commands is done at the remote computer, and only keystrokes and the terminal output are passed along through the Internet. If you want to use Telnet, you usually have to have a valid account on the computer you want to connect to. Some sites offer special services such as current weather conditions and do not require a personal account.

I often use Telnet to connect to my `home' account and read electronic mail when I am away for a conference.

Telnet sites can be accessed from within Netscape using the 'telnet://' prefix for an address IF an appropriate Telnet program has been installed in addition to Netscape.


By using Ftp (File Transfer Protocol), you can copy files between any two computers on the Internet. You can login to a remote computer and then copy a file from there to your machine, or visa versa. If you have a valid account on the machine you connect to, you usually have access to all files you normally have access to. Many sites, however, offer the possibility of an anonymous connection. Only selected files will be accessible to you in this situation. Often shareware computer programs or documents of general interest are placed on an anonymous site and can then be copied by anyone on the Internet.

I used Ftp to transfer computer pictures about dynamical systems with a colleague, and I often use Ftp sites that allow anonymous access to obtain new software (such as the programs described here).

Ftp sites can be accessed from within Netscape using the 'ftp://' prefix for an address. Ftp support is built-in to Netscape.


Bert G. Wachsmut
Last modified: 05/03/00