The aim of these pages is to give information on things that are simple to do once you know how, but a little difficult to find. Most books give information as to how to use FTP. Gnome now has a graphical ftp client, but I haven't really used it. We'll assume that you're doing this from the terminal window.

The usual command is ftp [sitename]. So, if you wanted to download things from a site called greatlinuxstuff.com you would type
ftp greatlinuxstuff.com
If this is a site making downloads available to the public, you will type anonymous when asked for your login or user name and your email as your password. You can then maneuver around the site in the same way you would around your own hard drive, with cd, etc. So, you've found the file you want to download. Suppose it's called coolstuff.gz. You simply type
get coolstuff.gz

Something that wasn't as easy for me to find was how to upload files to ones own site. However, it is also quite easy. So, let's say that my site is called scott.com and my password is password. I would type
ftp www.scott.com It will then ask for a user name--so, if my user name is scott, (hmm, real original here),I type in scott. Then it asks for password, I type password.

Now, I want to upload a new html file that I've made. Let's say it's name is new.html So I type
put new.html
The file is then uploaded.

The only thing here is that you have to be in the directory from which you are planning to upload your files. For example, if I'm in /home/scott and my html file is in a directory called htmls I won't be able to upload it. So before connecting to the ftp client, I first cd to my html directory. So, firstly,
cd htmls
ftp www.scott.com
The trouble I had was when I wanted to upload multiple files. For example I was uploading my jpgs to a new website. I wanted to upload all of them at once and didn't know the command. I posted the question on the onelist Linux mailing list and quickly got three answers, all of which work.

So, firstly I had done cd to get in my jpg folder. Then, I make my ftp connection. The command for multiple files is
mput *.jpg
However, the trouble with that one was that I was then asked did I want to upload a.jpg, b.jpg etc. I wanted a way around that. The three solutions that worked were

first connect then type
Then hit enter. This turns off the prompting for each file.
The second method was when doing the ftp add the -i flag. Usually, of course, adding -i makes it start to prompt, such as in rm -i, but in this case, it removes the prompting mode. So, I would type
ftp -i www.scott.com
mput *.jpg
Then, it uploaded all the jpg files in the directory without me having to supervise the operation.

The third solution was to use, rather than ftp, ncftp. The syntax then depends upon which version you have, but usually it is this ncftp -u www.scott.com
If that doesn't work, then put in your user name first. So it would be
ncftp -u scott www.scott.com
Then, you don't even need mput, the put command will work to upload the multiple files without being questioned about each one.
put *.jpg

Brian Johnson, one of the administrators of the Egroups Linux list was kind enough to post the following list of commands:

ftp ftp.somesite.com ;connects you to the site
cd              ; just what it looks like :-P
ls              ; again, just what it looks like
binary          ; changes to binary mode transfers
ascii           ; changes to ascii mode transfers
hash            ; optional command, turns on progress hash marks
get filename     ; downloads the file
put filename     ; uploads a local file
quit            ; oh come on, you know what this does

One last little trick. If, and only if, security was no issue at all, you can also automagic the procedure. The big trouble is that it leaves your user name and password in your home directory in clear text. So, it's up to you. (Of course, .fetchmailrc does the same thing, but...) You start by creating a file called .netrc in your home directory. The layout would be as follows

machine your ftp server
login username
password password

You can also add commands to this file such as changing into your html directory, using binary, etc. First add the line

macdef init

Then, add your commands, a line at a time, for example

lcd /home/user/html

One important note with this--you have to, in whatever text editor you use to create this file, follow the final command with a return--otherwise you get an error message.

Lastly, change the mode on your .netrc file

chmod 600 .netrc

The process can also be automated, although slightly differently in Windows using DOS. Make a batch file

ftp -s:textfile.txt servername.

The textfile.txt (which must be in whatever directory you are in when starting the ftp command) simply reads


It could also have any other commands that you wish to use. Most of the ones that Brian provides above will work in DOS as well.

One more note on MS's FTP. If you make a file such as

ftp -s:textfile.txt ftp.site.com and save it as ftp.bat you may or may not get, when you click on it, nothing but rapid scrolling in the DOS window. This can usually be fixed by naming the batch file something other than ftp--for example, 11ftp.bat or something like that--it has to do with MS's O/S's sometimes getting confused.

As you can see, using FTP is quite simple. Most of this information is easily available, the only reason I include this small FTP section is because my criterion is did I have to look in more than two or three places to find the answer. In this case, the uploading multiple files aspect required looking in several places, so I decided to add this little section to my pages.