Using FTP and Telnet

by Dr. David Maidment
updated by Jennifer Benaman

This handout describes how to use ftp (file transfer protocol) to transfer files between computers and how to telnet between computers. Suppose you have a file on the alphas and you want to transfer it to a PC for use on an application there. Do the following:

Using ftp to transfer files

On the PC, bring up a DOS prompt in Windows and change to the drive and directory where you want the files to be transferred from or to. (i.e. S: for Scratch.tmp or A: for a floppy). Then type:


which yields the ftp prompt:


Now you can open a connection to the alphas, from the PC you are sitting at by typing:


You will be prompted for your alpha userid and password. Now you have an open connection between the PC you are sitting at and alpha1. To send a text file, set the channel to ascii by typing

NOTE: Only try to ftp or telnet to alpha61 or alpha62, access to alpha1 through alpha5 is not possible


To send a data file, set the channel to binary format by typing:


NOTE: Only "pure" text files should be ftped under ascii. Any other type of file should be transferred binary. For example, if you have a Word 6.0 document that has been saved in Word 6.0 format, it should be transferred binary! DO NOT ftp coverages unless they have first been exported out of ArcInfo (you will learn how to do this later).

In either case, to send a single file from the source machine (in this case, the PC you're sitting at) to the destination machine (alpha61), use

ftp>put filename

and you'll see it transfer. You can also use ls to see exactly where you are at and what has transferred to the destination machine.

To put several files within a directory, use

ftp>mput *

and you will be prompted one by one to put the files.

To get the files back use:

ftp>get filename

and similarly mget will get a set of files. Once you are done, use


to close the ftp connection from the PC to alpha61.

File Formats:

Check what formats the application you want to use will accept. I think exporting (under File on the menu) Views as CGM Binary in ArcView (UNIX) will permit them to be opened in Canvas. Word and PowerPoint can import the CGM Binary files, but this takes a lot of memory and usually causes the document to be rather large in size. In PC ArcView, exporting a layout or view as a Windows Metafile enables it to be imported into other windows applications. Getting the formats compatible between ArcView and your desired application requires a bit of experimentation.

Anonymous Login

Many organizations operate ftp servers with anonymous login areas. To get data from one of these areas, you ftp to their machine, where you will be prompted to login anonymously using your email address as the password:

login:anonymous [or the email address of where you are at]

Then you can use the normal UNIX commands to change directories, list files, etc.

Connecting to alpha1 using telnet

Go to the PC or Macintosh and find the folder that is labeled "NSCA Telnet". Open this folder and execute the NSCA software. From there, you may go to the menu and under "File" chose "Open Connection" in the dialog box, type You should now be connected by telnet to alpha1 just as if you were sitting at another alpha, except that you cannot use the Xwindows graphics display, you can only display text.

From this telnet session, you can also type ftp to invoke the ftp prompt and open other machines to transfer files, such as machines from other departments or off campus. Be sure to log off from your telnet session by typing exit, when you are finished.