ncftp(1)                                                              ncftp(1)

       ncftp - Browser program for the File Transfer Protocol

       ncftp [host]

       ncftp []

       The purpose of ncftp is to provide a powerful and flexible interface to
       the Internet standard  File  Transfer  Protocol.   It  is  intended  to
       replace the stock ftp program that comes with the system.

       Although  the  program  appears  to be rather spartan, you'll find that
       ncftp has a wealth of valuable performance  and  usage  features.   The
       program was designed with an emphasis on usability, and it does as much
       as it can for you automatically so you can do what  you  expect  to  do
       with  a  file  transfer  program,  which  is transfer files between two
       interconnected systems.

       Some of the cooler features include progress meters,  filename  comple-
       tion,  command-line  editing,  background processing, auto-resume down-
       loads, bookmarking, cached directory listings, host redialing,  working
       with  firewalls  and proxies, downloading entire directory trees, etc.,

       The  ncftp  distribution  comes  with  the  useful   utility   programs
       ncftpget(1) and ncftpput(1) which were designed to do command-line FTP.
       In particular, they are very handy for shell scripts.  This version  of
       ncftp  no longer does command-line FTP, since the main ncftp program is
       more of a browser-type program.

       The program allows you to specify a host or directory URL on  the  com-
       mand line.  This is a synonym for running ncftp and then using the open
       command.  A few command-line flags are allowed with this mode:

       -u XX   Use username XX instead of anonymous.

       -p XX   Use password XX with the username.

       -j XX   Use account XX in supplement to the username and password (dep-

       -P XX   Use  port  number  XX  instead  of the default FTP service port

       Upon running the program you are presented a command prompt  where  you
       type  commands to the program's shell.  Usually you will want to open a
       remote filesystem to transfer files to and from  your  local  machine's
       filesystem.   To  do  that,  you  need to know the symbolic name of the
       remote system, or its Internet Protocol (IP) address.  For  example,  a
       symbolic name might be ``,'' and its IP address could be
       ``''  To open a connection to that  system,  you  use  the
       program's open command:


       Both  of these try to open the machine called typhoon at the University
       of Nebraska.  Using the symbolic name is the preferred way, because  IP
       addresses  may  change without notice, while the symbolic names usually
       stay the same.

       When you open a remote filesystem, you need to  have  permission.   The
       FTP Protocol's authentication system is very similar to that of logging
       in to your account.  You have to give an account name, and its password
       for  access to that account's files.  However, most remote systems that
       have anything you might be interested in don't require an account  name
       for use.  You can often get anonymous access to a remote filesystem and
       exchange files that have been made publicly  accessible.   The  program
       attempts  to  get  anonymous  permission to a remote system by default.
       What actually happens is that the program tries to use ``anonymous'' as
       the  account  name,  and when prompted for a password, uses your E-mail
       address as a courtesy to the remote system's maintainer.  You can  have
       the program try to use a specific account also.  That will be explained

       After the open command completes successfully, you are connected to the
       remote  system  and  logged  in.  You should now see the command prompt
       change to reflect the name of the current  remote  directory.   To  see
       what's  in  the  current remote directory, you can use the program's ls
       and dir commands.  The former is terse, preferring more remote files in
       less  screen  space,  and  the  latter is more verbose, giving detailed
       information about each item in the directory.

       You can use the program's cd command to move to  other  directories  on
       the  remote  system.  The cd command behaves very much like the command
       of the same name in the Bourne and Korn shell.

       The purpose of the program is to exchange data with other systems.  You
       can use the program's get command to copy a file from the remote system
       to your local system:

            get README.txt

       The program will display the progress of the transfer on the screen, so
       you  can  tell  how much needs to be done before the transfer finishes.
       When the transfer does finish, then you can enter more commands to  the
       program's command shell.

       You  can  use the program's put command to copy a file from your system
       to the remote system:

            put something.tar

       When you are finished using the remote system, you can open another one
       or use the quit

       Before  quitting,  you  may want to save the current FTP session's set-
       tings for later.  You can use the bookmark command  to  save  an  entry
       into  your $HOME/.ncftp/bookmarks file.  When you use the bookmark com-
       mand, you also specify a bookmark name, so the  next  time  instead  of
       opening  the  full  hostname  you  can use the name of the bookmark.  A
       bookmark acts just like one for your  web  browser,  so  it  saves  the
       remote  directory  you  were  in,  the account name you used, etc., and
       other information it learned so that the next time you use the bookmark
       it should require as little effort from you as possible.

       help   The first command to know is help.  If you just type


              from  the  command shell, the program prints the names of all of
              the supported commands.  From there, you can get  specific  help
              for a command by typing the command after, for example:

                   help open

              prints information about the open command.

       ascii  This command sets the transfer type to ASCII text.  This is use-
              ful for text-only transfers because the concept  of  text  files
              differs  between operating systems.  For example on UNIX, a text
              file denotes line breaks with the linefeed character,  while  on
              MS-DOS a line break is denoted by both a carriage return charac-
              ter and a line feed character.  Therefore,  for  data  transfers
              that  you  consider the data as text you can use ascii to ensure
              that both the remote system and local system  translate  accord-
              ingly.   The default transfer type that ncftp uses is not ASCII,
              but straight binary.

       bgget and bgput
              These commands correspond to the get and put commands  explained
              below,  except that they do the job in the background.  Normally
              when you do a get then the program  does  the  download  immedi-
              ately,  and  does  not  return control to you until the download
              completes.  The background transfers are nice  because  you  can
              continue browsing the remote filesystem and even open other sys-
              tems.  In fact, they are done by a daemon process,  so  even  if
              you  log  off  your  UNIX  host  the daemon should still do your
              transfers.  The daemon will also automatically continue to retry
              the  transfers  until they finish.  To tell when background jobs
              have finished, you have to  examine  the  $HOME/.ncftp/spool/log
              file, or run the jobs command from within NcFTP.

              Both  the bgget and bgput commands allow you to schedule when to
              do the transfers.  They take a ``-@'' parameter, whose  argument
              is  a  date  of the form YYYYMMDDhhmmss (four digit year, month,
              day, hour, minute, second).  For example, to schedule a download
              at 3 AM on November 6, you could try:

                   bgget -@ 19971106030000 /pub/idstuff/quake/

              This  command  tells  ncftp  to immediately start the background
              transfers you've requested, which simply  runs  a  copy  of  the
              ncftpbatch program which is responsible for the background jobs.
              Normally the program will start the background job  as  soon  as
              you  close  the  current site, open a new site, or quit the pro-
              gram.  The reason for this is because since so many users  still
              use  slow  dialup  links  that starting the transfers would slow
              things to a crawl, making it difficult to browse the remote sys-
              tem.   An  added  bonus  of starting the background job when you
              close the site is that ncftp can pass off that  open  connection
              to the ncftpbatch program.  That is nice when the site is always
              busy, so that the background job doesn't have to  wait  and  get
              re-logged on to do its job.

       binary Sets  the transfer type to raw binary, so that no translation is
              done on the data transferred.  This is the default anyway, since
              most files are in binary.

              Saves  the current session settings for later use.  This is use-
              ful to save the remote system and remote  working  directory  so
              you  can quickly resume where you left off some other time.  The
              bookmark data is stored in your $HOME/.ncftp/bookmarks file.

              Lists the contents of  your  $HOME/.ncftp/bookmarks  file  in  a
              human-readable  format.   You can use this command to recall the
              bookmark name of a previously saved bookmark, so  that  you  can
              use the open command with it.

       cat    Acts  like the ``/bin/cat'' UNIX command, only for remote files.
              This downloads the file you specify and dumps it directly to the
              screen.   You  will  probably find the page command more useful,
              since that lets you view the file one screen at a  time  instead
              of printing the entire file at once.

       cd     Changes the working directory on the remote host.  Use this com-
              mand to move to different areas on the remote  server.   If  you
              just  opened  a  new  site,  you might be in the root directory.
              Perhaps      there      was       a       directory       called
              ``/pub/news/comp.sources.d''  that someone told you about.  From
              the root directory, you could:

                   cd pub
                   cd news
                   cd comp.sources.d

              or, more concisely,

                   cd /pub/news/comp.sources.d

              Then, commands such as get, put, and ls could be used  to  refer
              to items in that directory.

              Some shells in the UNIX environment have a feature I like, which
              is switching to the previous directory.  Like those shells,  you
              can do:

                   cd -

              to change to the last directory you were in.

       chmod  Acts  like  the  ``/bin/chmod''  UNIX  command,  only for remote
              files.  However, this is not a standard command, so  remote  FTP
              servers may not support it.

       close  Disconnects  you  from the remote server.  The program does this
              for you automatically when needed, so you can simply open  other
              sites  or  quit  the  program without worrying about closing the
              connection by hand.

       debug  This command is mostly for internal testing.  You could type

                   debug 1

              to turn debugging mode on.  Then  you  could  see  all  messages
              between  the  program and the remote server, and things that are
              only printed in debugging mode.  However,  this  information  is
              also  available in the $HOME/.ncftp/trace file, which is created
              each time you run ncftp.  If you need to report a  bug,  send  a
              trace file if you can.

       dir    Prints  a  detailed  directory listing.  It tries to behave like
              UNIX's ``/bin/ls -l'' command.  If the remote server seems to be
              a  UNIX host, you can also use the same flags you would with ls,
              for instance

                   dir -rt

              would try to act like

                   /bin/ls -lrt

              would on UNIX.

       get    Copies files from the current working directory  on  the  remote
              host  to  your  machine's current working directory.  To place a
              copy of ``README'' and ``README.too'' in your  local  directory,
              you could try:

                   get README README.too

              You  could  also accomplish that by using a wildcard expression,
              such as:

                   get README*

              This command is similar to the behavior of other  FTP  programs'
              mget command.  To retrieve a remote file but give it a different
              name on your host, you can use the ``-z''  flag.   This  example
              shows  how  to  download  a  file  called ReadMe.txt but name it
              locally as README:

                   get -z ReadMe.txt README

              The program tries to  ``resume''  downloads  by  default.   This
              means  that if the remote FTP server lost the connection and was
              only able to send 490 kilobytes of  a  500  kilobyte  file,  you
              could reconnect to the FTP server and do another get on the same
              file name and it would get the last  10  kilobytes,  instead  of
              retrieving  the  entire  file  again.   There are some occasions
              where you may not want that behavior.  To turn it  off  you  can
              use the ``-f'' flag.

              There  are  also  times  where you want to append to an existing
              file.  You can do this by using the ``-A'' flag, for example

                   get -A log.11

              would append to a file named ``log.11'' if it existed locally.

              Another thing you can do is delete a remote file after you down-
              load  it.   This can be useful when a remote host expects a file
              to be removed when it has  been  retrieved.   Use  the  double-D
              flag, such as ``get -DD'' to do this.

              The  get  command lets you retrieve entire directory trees, too.
              Although it may not work with some remote systems, you  can  try
              ``get -R''  with  a  directory to download the directory and its

       jobs   Views the list of currently executing  NcFTP  background  tasks.
              This actually just runs ncftpbatch -l for you.

       lcd    The  lcd  command is the first of a few ``l'' commands that work
              with the local host.  This changes the current working directory
              on the local host.  If you want to download files into a differ-
              ent local directory, you could use lcd to change to that  direc-
              tory and then do your downloads.

       lchmod Runs ``/bin/chmod'' on the local host.

       lls    Another  local  command  that comes in handy is the lls command,
              which runs ``/bin/ls''  on  the  local  host  and  displays  the
              results  in  the  program's  window.  You can use the same flags
              with lls as you would in your  command  shell,  so  you  can  do
              things like:

                   lcd ~/doc
                   lls -lrt p*.txt

       lmkdir Runs ``/bin/mkdir'' on the local host.

       lookup The  program  also  has a built-in interface to the name service
              via the lookup command.  This means you can lookup  entries  for
              remote hosts, like:




              There is also a more detailed option, enabled with ``-v,'' i.e.:

                   lookup -v




              You can also give IP addresses, so this would work too:




       lpage  Views a local file one page  at  a  time,  with  your  preferred
              $PAGER program.

       lpwd   Prints  the  current local directory.  Use this command when you
              forget where you are on your local machine.

              Runs ``/bin/mv'' on the local host.

       lrm    Runs ``/bin/rm'' on the local host.

       lrmdir Runs ``/bin/rmdir'' on the local host.

       ls     Prints a directory listing from the remote system.  It tries  to
              behave  like  UNIX's  ``/bin/ls -CF''  command.   If  the remote
              server seems to be a UNIX host, you can also use the same  flags
              you would with ls, for instance

                   ls -rt

              would try to act like

                   /bin/ls -CFrt

              would on UNIX.

              ncftp  has a powerful built-in system for dealing with directory
              listings.  It tries to cache each one, so if you list  the  same
              directory,  odds  are  it  will  display  instantly.  Behind the
              scenes, ncftp always tries a long listing, and then reformats it
              as  it  needs  to.  So even if your first listing of a directory
              was a regular ``ls'' which displayed the files in columns,  your
              next  listing could be ``ls -lrt'' and ncftp would still use the
              cached directory listing to quickly display the information  for

       mkdir  Creates  a  new  directory  on the remote host.  For many public
              archives, you won't have the proper  access  permissions  to  do

       open   Establishes  an  FTP  control  connection  to a remote host.  By
              default, ncftp logs in anonymously to the remote host.  You  may
              want  to use a specific user account when you log in, so you can
              use the ``-u'' flag to specify which user.  This  example  shows
              how  to  open the host ``'' using the user-
              name ``mario:''

                   open -u mario

              Here is a list of options available for use with the  open  com-

              -u XX Use username XX instead of anonymous.

              -p XX Use password XX with the username.

              -j  XX Use account XX in supplement to the username and password

              -P XX Use port number XX instead of the default FTP service port

       page   Browses a remote file one page at a time, using your $PAGER pro-
              gram.  This is useful for reading README's on  the  remote  host
              without downloading them first.

       pdir and pls
              These  commands  are equivalent to dir and ls respectively, only
              they feed their output to your pager.  These commands are useful
              if the directory listing scrolls off your screen.

       put    Copies files from the local host to the remote machine's current
              working directory.  To place a copy of ``'' and ``''
              in the remote directory, you could try:


              You  could  also accomplish that by using a wildcard expression,
              such as:

                   put *.zip

              This command is similar to the behavior of other  FTP  programs'
              mput  command.   To  send  a remote file but give it a different
              name on your host, you can use the ``-z''  flag.   This  example
              shows  how  to  upload a file called ``ncftpd-2.0.6.tar.gz'' but
              name it remotely as ``NFTPD206.TGZ:''

                   put -z ncftpd-2.0.6.tar.gz NFTPD206.TGZ

              The program does not try to ``resume'' uploads by  default.   If
              you do want to resume an upload, use the ``-z'' flag.

              There  are  also  times  where you want to append to an existing
              remote file.  You can do this by  using  the  ``-A''  flag,  for

                   put -A log11.txt

              would  append to a file named ``log11.txt'' if it existed on the
              remote server.

              Another thing you can do is delete a local file after you upload
              it.  Use the double-D flag, such as ``put -DD'' to do this.

              The  put  command lets you send entire directory trees, too.  It
              should work on all remote systems, so  you  can  try  ``put -R''
              with a directory to upload the directory and its contents.

       pwd    Prints  the  current remote working directory.  A portion of the
              pathname is also displayed in the shell's prompt.

       quit   Of course, when you finish using the program, type quit  to  end
              the program (You could also use bye, exit, or ^D).

       quote  This  can  be  used to send a direct FTP Protocol command to the
              remote server.  Generally this isn't too useful to  the  average

       rename If you need to change the name of a remote file, you can use the
              rename command, like:

                   rename SPHYGMTR.TAR sphygmomanometer-2.3.1.tar

       rhelp  Sends a help request to the remote server.  The list of FTP Pro-
              tocol commands is often printed, and sometimes some other infor-
              mation that is actually useful,  like  how  to  reach  the  site

              Depending on the remote server, you may be able to give a param-
              eter to the server also, like:

                   rhelp NLST

              One server responded:

                   Syntax: NLST [ <sp> path-name ]

       rm     If you need to delete a remote file you can try the rm  command.
              Much  of  the  time  this  won't work because you won't have the
              proper access permissions.   This  command  doesn't  accept  any
              flags,  so  you  can't  nuke a whole tree by using ``-rf'' flags
              like you can on UNIX.

       rmdir  Similarly, the rmdir command removes a directory.  Depending  on
              the  remote server, you may be able to remove a non-empty direc-
              tory, so be careful.

       set    This lets you configure some program variables, which are  saved
              between  runs  in the $HOME/.ncftp/prefs file.  The basic syntax

                   set <option> <value>

              For example, to change the value you use for the anonymous pass-
              word, you might do:

                   set anon-password

              See the next section for a list of things you change.

       show   This   lets   you   display   program  variables.   You  can  do
              ``show all'' to display all of them, or give a variable name  to
              just display that one, such as:

                   show anon-password

       site   One  obscure  command  you may have to use someday is site.  The
              FTP Protocol  allows  for  ``site  specific''  commands.   These
              ``site'' commands vary of course, such as:

                   site chmod 644 README

              Actually, ncftp's chmod command really does the above.

              Try  doing  one of these to see what the remote server supports,
              if any:

                   rhelp SITE
                   site help

       type   You may need to change transfer types during  the  course  of  a
              session with a server.  You can use the type command to do this.
              Try one of these:

                   type ascii
                   type binary
                   type image

              The ascii command is equivalent to ``type a'',  and  the  binary
              command is equivalent to ``type i'' and ``type b''.

       umask  Sets the process' umask on the remote server, if it has any con-
              cept of a umask, i.e.:

                   umask 077

              However, this is not a standard command, so remote  FTP  servers
              may not support it.

              This command dumps some information about the particular edition
              of the program you are using, and how it was installed  on  your

              Specifies  what  to  use for the password when logging in anony-
              mously.  Internet convention has been to use your E-mail address
              as a courtesy to the site administrator.  If you change this, be
              aware that some sites require (i.e. they check for) valid E-mail

              NcFTP 3 now prompts the user by default when you try to download
              a file that already  exists  locally,  or  upload  a  file  that
              already exists remotely.  Older versions of the program automat-
              ically guessed whether to overwrite the existing file or attempt
              to  resume  where  it  left off, but sometimes the program would
              guess wrong.  If you would prefer that the program always  guess
              which action to take, set this variable to yes, otherwise, leave
              it set to no and the program will prompt you for which action to

              With  the advent of version 3 of NcFTP, the program treats book-
              marks more like they would with your web  browser,  which  means
              that once you bookmark the site, the remote directory is static.
              If you set this variable to yes, then the program will automati-
              cally  update  the bookmark's starting remote directory with the
              directory you were in when you closed the site.   This  behavior
              would be more like that of NcFTP version 2.

              By  default  the  program  will  ask you when a site you haven't
              bookmarked is about to be closed.  To turn this prompt off,  you
              can set this variable to no.

              Previous versions of the program used a single timeout value for
              everything.  You can now have  different  values  for  different
              operations.   However,  you probably do not need to change these
              from the defaults unless you have special requirements.

              The connect-timeout variable controls how long to wait, in  sec-
              onds,  for a connection establishment to complete before consid-
              ering it hopeless.  You can choose to not use a timeout  at  all
              by setting this to -1.

              This  is the timer used when ncftp sends an FTP command over the
              control connection to the remote server.  If the  server  hasn't
              replied in that many seconds, it considers the session lost.

              This  is  controls how large the transfer log ($HOME/.ncftp/log)
              can grow to, in kilobytes.  The default is 200,  for  200kB;  if
              you don't want a log, set this to 0.

       pager  This  is the external program to use to view a text file, and is
              more by default.

              This controls ncftp's behavior for data connections, and can  be
              set  to  one of on, off, or the default, optional.  When passive
              mode is on, ncftp uses the FTP command primitive  PASV  to  have
              the  client  establish  data  connections  to  the  server.  The
              default FTP protocol behavior is to use the FTP  command  primi-
              tive PORT which has the server establish data connections to the
              client.  The default setting for this variable, optional, allows
              ncftp to choose whichever method it deems necessary.

              You  can  change  how  the program reports file transfer status.
              Select from meter 2, 1, or 0.

              When a host is busy or unavailable, the program waits this  num-
              ber  of  seconds  before trying again.  The smallest you can set
              this is to 10 seconds -- so if you were planning on being incon-
              siderate, think again.

              If you set this variable to yes, the program will save passwords
              along with the bookmarks you save.  While this makes  non-anony-
              mous  logins  more  convenient, this can be very dangerous since
              your   account   information   is    now    sitting    in    the
              $HOME/.ncftp/bookmarks  file.   The  passwords  aren't  in clear
              text, but it is still trivial to decode them if someone wants to
              make a modest effort.

              If your operating system supports TCP Large Windows, you can try
              setting this variable to the number of bytes to set  the  TCP/IP
              socket  buffer  to.  This option won't be of much use unless the
              remote server also supports large window sizes and  is  pre-con-
              figured with them enabled.

              This  timer  controls  how  long to wait for data blocks to com-
              plete.  Don't set this too low or else your transfers will time-
              out without completing.

       You  may  find  that  your  network administrator has placed a firewall
       between your machine and the Internet, and that you cannot reach exter-
       nal hosts.

       The  answer may be as simple as setting ncftp to use passive mode only,
       which you can do from a ncftp command prompt like this:

            set passive on

       The reason for this is because many firewalls  do  not  allow  incoming
       connections  to the site, but do allow users to establish outgoing con-
       nections.  A passive data connection is established by  the  client  to
       the server, whereas the default is for the server to establish the con-
       nection to the client, which firewalls may object to.  Of  course,  you
       now  may  have  problems  with sites whose primitive FTP servers do not
       support passive mode.

       Otherwise, if you know you need to have ncftp communicate directly with
       a   firewall   or   proxy,   you   can   try   editing   the   separate
       $HOME/.ncftp/firewall configuration file.  This file is  created  auto-
       matically  the  first  time  you  run the program, and contains all the
       information you need to get the program to work in this setup.

       The basics of this process are configuring a firewall (proxy)  host  to
       go through, a user account and password for authentication on the fire-
       wall, and which type of firewall method to use.  You can also setup  an
       exclusion  list,  so  that ncftp does not use the firewall for hosts on
       the local network.

              Saves bookmark and host information.

              Firewall access configuration file.

              Program preferences.

              Debugging output for entire program run.

              Used to tell if this version of the program has run before.

              Directory where background jobs are stored in the form of  spool
              configuration files.

              Information for background data transfer processes.

       PATH   User's  search path, used to find the ncftpbatch program, pager,
              and some other system utilities.

       PAGER  Program to use to view text files one page at a time.

       TERM   If the program was compiled with support  for  GNU  Readline  it
              will  need  to know how to manipulate the terminal correctly for
              line-editing, etc.  The pager program will also  take  advantage
              of this setting.

       HOME   By  default,  the  program  writes  its  configuration data in a
              .ncftp subdirectory of the HOME directory.

              If  set,  the  program  will  use  this  directory  instead   of
              $HOME/.ncftp.   This variable is optional except for those users
              whose home directory is the root directory.

              Both the built-in ls command and the external  ls  command  need
              this to determine how many screen columns the terminal has.

       There  are  no such sites named or sphygmomanome-

       Auto-resume should check the file timestamps instead  of  relying  upon
       just  the  file  sizes,  but it is difficult to do this reliably within

       Directory caching and recursive downloads depend on UNIX-like  behavior
       of the remote host.

       Mike Gleason, NcFTP Software (

       ncftpput(1), ncftpget(1), ncftpbatch(1), ftp(1), rcp(1), tftp(1).

       LibNcFTP (

       NcFTPd (

       Thanks  to  everyone who uses the program.  Your support is what drives
       me to improve the program!

       I thank Dale Botkin and Tim Russell at my former ISP, Probe Technology.

       Ideas and some code contributed by my partner, Phil Dietz.

       Thanks to Brad Mittelstedt and Chris Tjon, for driving and refining the
       development of the backbone of this project, LibNcFTP.

       I'd like to thank my former system administrators, most notably Charles
       Daniel,  for making testing on a variety of platforms possible, letting
       me have some extra disk space, and for maintaining the UNL FTP site.

       For testing versions 1 and 2 above and beyond the call of  duty,  I  am
       especially  grateful to: Phil Dietz, Kok Hon Yin, and Andrey A. Chernov

       Thanks to Tim MacKenzie ( for the original  file-
       name completion code for version 2.3.0 and 2.4.2.

       Thanks to DaviD W. Sanderson (, for helping me out with the
       man page.

       Thanks to those of you at UNL who appreciate my work.

       Thanks to Red Hat Software for honoring  my  licensing  agreement,  but
       more  importantly, thanks for providing a solid and affordable develop-
       ment platform.

       To the users, for not being able to respond personally to most of  your

       To Phil, for things not being the way they should be.

Software                             NcFTP                            ncftp(1)