ncftp(1)                    General Commands Manual                   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
       completion, command-line editing, background processing, auto-resume
       downloads, bookmarking, cached directory listings, host redialing,
       working with firewalls and proxies, downloading entire directory trees,
       etc., 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
       command 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

       -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
       settings for later.  You can use the bookmark command to save an entry
       into your $HOME/.ncftp/bookmarks file.  When you use the bookmark
       command, 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
              useful 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
              character 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
              accordingly.  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
              immediately, 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 systems.  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

              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
              program.  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
              system.  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
              useful 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
              command 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.

       edit   Downloads into a temporary file for editing on the local host,
              then uploads the changed file back to the remote host.

       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
              download 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

              When using the ``-R'' flag, you can also use the ``-T'' flag to
              disable automatic on-the-fly TAR mode for downloading whole
              directory trees.  The program uses TAR whenever possible since
              this usually preserves symbolic links and file permissions. TAR
              mode can also result in faster transfers for directories
              containing many small files, since a single data connection can
              be used rather than an FTP data connection for each small file.
              The downside to using TAR is that it forces downloading of the
              whole directory, even if you had previously downloaded a portion
              of it earlier, so you may want to use this option if you want to
              resume downloading of a directory.

       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
              different local directory, you could use lcd to change to that
              directory 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
              username ``mario:''

                   open -u mario

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

              -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
              program.  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
              Protocol commands is often printed, and sometimes some other
              information that is actually useful, like how to reach the site

              Depending on the remote server, you may be able to give a
              parameter 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
              directory, 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
              password, 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
              concept 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
              anonymously.  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 addresses.

              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
              automatically 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 take.

              If set to a list of pipe-character delimited extensions, files
              with these extensions will be sent in ASCII mode even if binary
              mode is currently in effect.  This option allows you to transfer
              most files in binary, with the exception of a few well-known
              file types that should be sent in ASCII.  This option is enabled
              by default, and set to a list of common extensions (e.g., .txt
              and .html).

              With the advent of version 3 of NcFTP, the program treats
              bookmarks 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
              automatically 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
              seconds, for a connection establishment to complete before
              considering 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
              primitive 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
              number of seconds before trying again.  The smallest you can set
              this is to 10 seconds -- so if you were planning on being
              inconsiderate, think again.

              If you set this variable to yes, the program will save passwords
              along with the bookmarks you save.  While this makes non-
              anonymous 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 set to yes and operating from within an xterm window, the
              program will change the window's titlebar accordingly.

              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-
              configured with them enabled.

              This timer controls how long to wait for data blocks to
              complete.  Don't set this too low or else your transfers will
              timeout without completing.

       You may find that your network administrator has placed a firewall
       between your machine and the Internet, and that you cannot reach
       external 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
       connections.  A passive data connection is established by the client to
       the server, whereas the default is for the server to establish the
       connection 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
       automatically 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
       firewall, 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

       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
       filename 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
       development 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.

ncftp                           NcFTP Software                        ncftp(1)

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