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Part A
Zen and the Art of the Internet

Copyright (c) 1992 Brendan P. Kehoe

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of
this guide provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are
preserved on all copies.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of
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modified versions, except that this permission notice may be stated
in a translation approved by the author.

Zen and the Art of the Internet
A Beginner's Guide to the Internet
First Edition
January 1992

by Brendan P. Kehoe

This is revision 1.0 of February 2, 1992.
Copyright (c) 1992 Brendan P. Kehoe

The composition of this booklet was originally started because the
Computer Science department at Widener University was in desperate
need of documentation describing the capabilities of this ``great
new Internet link'' we obtained.

It's since grown into an effort to acquaint the reader with much
of what's currently available over the Internet. Aimed at the novice
user, it attempts to remain operating system ``neutral''---little
information herein is specific to Unix, VMS, or any other
environment. This booklet will, hopefully, be usable by nearly

A user's session is usually offset from the rest of the paragraph,
as such:

prompt> command
The results are usually displayed here.

The purpose of this booklet is two-fold: first, it's intended to
serve as a reference piece, which someone can easily grab on the
fly and look something up. Also, it forms a foundation from which
people can explore the vast expanse of the Internet. Zen and the Art
of the Internet doesn't spend a significant amount of time on any one
point; rather, it provides enough for people to learn the specifics of
what his or her local system offers.

One warning is perhaps in order---this territory we are entering
can become a fantastic time-sink. Hours can slip by, people can come
and go, and you'll be locked into Cyberspace. Remember to do your

With that, I welcome you, the new user, to The Net.

[email protected]
Chester, PA


Certain sections in this booklet are not my original work---rather,
they are derived from documents that were available on the Internet
and already aptly stated their areas of concentration. The chapter
on Usenet is, in large part, made up of what's posted monthly to
news.announce.newusers, with some editing and rewriting. Also, the
main section on archie was derived from whatis.archie by Peter
Deutsch of the McGill University Computing Centre. It's available
via anonymous FTP from Much of what's in the
telnet section came from an impressive introductory document put
together by SuraNet. Some definitions in the one are from an
excellent glossary put together by Colorado State University.

This guide would not be the same without the aid of many people on
The Net, and the providers of resources that are already out there.
I'd like to thank the folks who gave this a read-through and returned
some excellent comments, suggestions, and criticisms, and those who
provided much-needed information on the fly. Glee Willis deserves
particular mention for all of his work; this guide would have been
considerably less polished without his help.

Andy Blankenbiller
Andy Blankenbiller, Army at Aberdeen

[email protected]
Alan Emtage, McGill University Computer Science Department

Brian Fitzgerald
Brian Fitzgerald, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

John Goetsch
John Goetsch, Rhodes University, South Africa

[email protected]
Jeff Kellem, Boston University's Chemistry Department

[email protected]
Bill Krauss, Moravian College

Steve Lodin
Steve Lodin, Delco Electronics

Mike Nesel
Mike Nesel, NASA

Bob Neveln, Widener University Computer Science Department

[email protected] (Wanda Pierce)
Wanda Pierce, McGill University Computing Centre

[email protected]
Joshua Poulson, Widener University Computing Services

[email protected]
Dave Sill, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

[email protected]
Bob Smart, CitiCorp/TTI

[email protected]
Ed Vielmetti, Vice President of MSEN

Craig E. Ward
Craig Ward, USC/Information Sciences Institute (ISI)

Glee Willis
Glee Willis, University of Nevada, Reno

Charles Yamasaki
Chip Yamasaki, OSHA

Network Basics

We are truly in an information society. Now more than ever, moving
vast amounts of information quickly across great distances is one
of our most pressing needs. From small one-person entrepreneurial
efforts, to the largest of corporations, more and more professional
people are discovering that the only way to be successful in the
'90s and beyond is to realize that technology is advancing at a
break-neck pace---and they must somehow keep up. Likewise, researchers
from all corners of the earth are finding that their work thrives in a
networked environment. Immediate access to the work of colleagues
and a ``virtual'' library of millions of volumes and thousands of
papers affords them the ability to encorporate a body of knowledge
heretofore unthinkable. Work groups can now conduct interactive
conferences with each other, paying no heed to physical
location---the possibilities are endless.

You have at your fingertips the ability to talk in ``real-time''
with someone in Japan, send a 2,000-word short story to a group of
people who will critique it for the sheer pleasure of doing so, see if a
Macintosh sitting in a lab in Canada is turned on, and find out if
someone happens to be sitting in front of their computer (logged
on) in Australia, all inside of thirty minutes. No airline (or tardis,
for that matter) could ever match that travel itinerary.

The largest problem people face when first using a network is
grasping all that's available. Even seasoned users find themselves
surprised when they discover a new service or feature that they'd
never known even existed. Once acquainted with the terminology and
sufficiently comfortable with making occasional mistakes, the
learning process will drastically speed up.


Getting where you want to go can often be one of the more difficult
aspects of using networks. The variety of ways that places are
named will probably leave a blank stare on your face at first. Don't
fret; there is a method to this apparent madness.

If someone were to ask for a home address, they would probably
expect a street, apartment, city, state, and zip code. That's all the
information the post office needs to deliver mail in a reasonably
speedy fashion. Likewise, computer addresses have a structure to
them. The general form is:

a person's email address on a computer: [email protected]
a computer's name: somewhere.domain

The user portion is usually the person's account name on the
system, though it doesn't have to be. somewhere.domain tells
you the name of a system or location, and what kind of organization
it is. The trailing domain is often one of the following:

Usually a company or other commercial institution or organization,
like Convex Computers (

An educational institution, e.g. New York University, named

A government site; for example, NASA is

A military site, like the Air Force (

Gateways and other administrative hosts for a network (it does not
mean all of the hosts in a network). {The Matrix, 111. One such
gateway is}

This is a domain reserved for private organizations, who don't
comfortably fit in the other classes of domains. One example is
the Electronic Frontier Foundation named

Each country also has its own top-level domain. For example, the
us domain includes each of the fifty states. Other countries
represented with domains include:

au Australia
ca Canada
fr France
uk The United Kingdom. These also have sub-domains of things like for academic sites and for commercial ones.

FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name)

The proper terminology for a site's domain name (somewhere.domain
above) is its Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN). It is usually
selected to give a clear indication of the site's organization or
sponsoring agent. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology's FQDN is; similarly, Apple Computer's domain
name is While such obvious names are usually the norm,
there are the occasional exceptions that are ambiguous enough to
mislead---like, which on first impulse one might surmise is
an educational institution of some sort in Vermont; not so. It's
actually the domain name for Virginia Tech. In most cases it's
relatively easy to glean the meaning of a domain name---such
confusion is far from the norm.

Internet Numbers

Every single machine on the Internet has a unique address, {At
least one address, possibly two or even three---but we won't go into
that.} called its Internet number or IP Address. It's actually a
32-bit number, but is most commonly represented as four numbers
joined by periods (.), like This is sometimes also
called a dotted quad; there are literally thousands of different
possible dotted quads. The ARPAnet (the mother to today's
Internet) originally only had the capacity to have up to 256 systems
on it because of the way each system was addressed. In the early
eighties, it became clear that things would fast outgrow such a small
limit; the 32-bit addressing method was born, freeing thousands of host

Each piece of an Internet address (like 192) is called an
``octet,'' representing one of four sets of eight bits. The first
two or three pieces (e.g. 192.55.239) represent the network that a
system is on, called its subnet. For example, all of the computers for
Wesleyan University are in the subnet 129.133. They can have numbers
like,, up to 65 thousand possible
combinations (possible computers).

IP addresses and domain names aren't assigned arbitrarily---that
would lead to unbelievable confusion. An application must be filed
with the Network Information Center (NIC), either electronically
(to [email protected]) or via regular mail.

Resolving Names and Numbers

Ok, computers can be referred to by either their FQDN or their
Internet address. How can one user be expected to remember them

They aren't. The Internet is designed so that one can use either
method. Since humans find it much more natural to deal with words
than numbers in most cases, the FQDN for each host is mapped to its
Internet number. Each domain is served by a computer within that
domain, which provides all of the necessary information to go from
a domain name to an IP address, and vice-versa. For example, when
someone refers to, the resolver knows that it should
ask the system about systems in It asks
what Internet address has; if the name
really exists, foovax will send back its number. All of this
``magic'' happens behind the scenes.

Rarely will a user have to remember the Internet number of a site
(although often you'll catch yourself remembering an apparently
obscure number, simply because you've accessed the system
frequently). However, you will remember a substantial number of
FQDNs. It will eventually reach a point when you are able to make
a reasonably accurate guess at what domain name a certain college,
university, or company might have, given just their name.

The Networks

The Internet is a large ``network of networks.'' There is no
one network known as The Internet; rather, regional nets like
SuraNet, PrepNet, NearNet, et al., are all inter-connected
(nay, ``inter-networked'') together into one great living thing,
communicating at amazing speeds with the TCP/IP protocol. All
activity takes place in ``real-time.''

The UUCP network is a loose association of systems all
communicating with the UUCP protocol. (UUCP stands for `Unix-to-Unix
Copy Program'.) It's based on two systems connecting to each other at
specified intervals, called polling, and executing any work
scheduled for either of them. Historically most UUCP was done with
Unix equipment, although the software's since been implemented on
other platforms (e.g. VMS). For example, the system oregano
polls the system basil once every two hours. If there's any
mail waiting for oregano, basil will send it at that time;
likewise, oregano will at that time send any jobs waiting for basil.

BITNET (the ``Because It's Time Network'') is comprised of systems
connected by point-to-point links, all running the NJE protocol.
It's continued to grow, but has found itself suffering at the hands
of the falling costs of Internet connections. Also, a number of mail
gateways are in place to reach users on other networks.

The Physical Connection

The actual connections between the various networks take a variety
of forms. The most prevalent for Internet links are 56k leased lines
(dedicated telephone lines carrying 56kilobit-per-second
connections) and T1 links (special phone lines with 1Mbps connections).
Also installed are T3 links, acting as backbones between major locations
to carry a massive 45Mbps load of traffic.

These links are paid for by each institution to a local carrier
(for example, Bell Atlantic owns PrepNet, the main provider in
Pennsylvania). Also available are SLIP connections, which carry
Internet traffic (packets) over high-speed modems.

UUCP links are made with modems (for the most part), that run from
1200 baud all the way up to as high as 38.4Kbps. As was mentioned
in The Networks, the connections are of the store-and-forward
variety. Also in use are Internet-based UUCP links (as if things
weren't already confusing enough!). The systems do their UUCP
traffic over TCP/IP connections, which give the UUCP-based network some
blindingly fast ``hops,'' resulting in better connectivity for the
network as a whole. UUCP connections first became popular in the
1970's, and have remained in wide-spread use ever since. Only with
UUCP can Joe Smith correspond with someone across the country or
around the world, for the price of a local telephone call.

BITNET links mostly take the form of 9600bps modems connected from
site to site. Often places have three or more links going; the
majority, however, look to ``upstream'' sites for their sole link to the

``The Glory and the Nothing of a Name''
Byron, {Churchill's Grave}

Electronic Mail

The desire to communicate is the essence of networking. People
have always wanted to correspond with each other in the fastest way
possible, short of normal conversation. Electronic mail (or
email) is the most prevalent application of this in computer
networking. It allows people to write back and forth without
having to spend much time worrying about how the message actually gets
delivered. As technology grows closer and closer to being a common
part of daily life, the need to understand the many ways it can be
utilized and how it works, at least to some level, is vital.
part of daily life (as has been evidenced by the ISDN effort, the
need to understand the many ways it can be utilized and how it works,
at least to some level, is vital.

Email Addresses

Electronic mail is hinged around the concept of an address; the
section on Networking Basics made some reference to it while
introducing domains. Your email address provides all of the
information required to get a message to you from anywhere in the
world. An address doesn't necessarily have to go to a human being.
It could be an archive server, {See Archive Servers, for a
description.} a list of people, or even someone's pocket pager.
These cases are the exception to the norm---mail to most addresses
is read by human beings.

%@!.: Symbolic Cacophony

Email addresses usually appear in one of two forms---using the
Internet format which contains @, an ``at''-sign, or using the
UUCP format which contains !, an exclamation point, also called
a ``bang.'' The latter of the two, UUCP ``bang'' paths, is more
restrictive, yet more clearly dictates how the mail will travel.

To reach Jim Morrison on the system, one would
address the mail as [email protected]. But if Jim's account was
on a UUCP site named brazil, then his address would be brazil!jm.
If it's possible (and one exists), try to use the Internet form of an
address; bang paths can fail if an intermediate site in the path
happens to be down. There is a growing trend for UUCP sites to
register Internet domain names, to help alleviate the problem of
path failures.

Another symbol that enters the fray is %---it acts as an extra
``routing'' method. For example, if the UUCP site dream is
connected to, but doesn't have an Internet domain name of
its own, a user debbie on dream can be reached by writing to the
address not smallexample!

debbie%[email protected]

The form is significant. This address says that the local system
should first send the mail to There the address
debbie%dream will turn into debbie@dream, which will hopefully be
a valid address. Then will handle getting the mail
to the host dream, where it will be delivered locally to debbie.

All of the intricacies of email addressing methods are fully
covered in the book ``!%@@:: A Directory of Electronic Mail Addressing and
Networks'' published by O'Reilly and Associates, as part of their
Nutshell Handbook series. It is a must for any active email user.
Write to [email protected] for ordering information.

Sending and Receiving Mail

We'll make one quick diversion from being OS-neuter here, to show
you what it will look like to send and receive a mail message on a Unix
system. Check with your system administrator for specific
instructions related to mail at your site.

A person sending the author mail would probably do something like

% mail [email protected]
Subject: print job's stuck

I typed `print babe.gif' and it didn't work! Why??

The next time the author checked his mail, he would see it listed
in his mailbox as:

% mail
"/usr/spool/mail/brendan": 1 messages 1 new 1 unread
U 1 [email protected] Tue May 5 20:36 29/956 print job's

which gives information on the sender of the email, when it was
sent, and the subject of the message. He would probably use the
reply command of Unix mail to send this response:

? r
Subject: Re: print job's stuck

You shouldn't print binary files like GIFs to a printer!


Try sending yourself mail a few times, to get used to your system's
mailer. It'll save a lot of wasted aspirin for both you and your
system administrator.

Anatomy of a Mail Header

An electronic mail message has a specific structure to it that's
common across every type of computer system. {The standard is
written down in RFC-822. See also RFCs for more info on how to get copies
of the various RFCs.} A sample would be:

>From [email protected] Sat May 25 17:06:01 1991
Received: from by with SMTP id AA21901
(4.1/SMI for [email protected]); Sat, 25 May 91 17:05:56 -0400
Date: Sat, 25 May 91 17:05:56 -0400
From: The President
Message-Id: <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: Meeting

Hi Dan .. we have a meeting at 9:30 a.m. with the Joint Chiefs.
Please don't oversleep this time.

The first line, with From and the two lines for Received: are
usually not very interesting. They give the ``real'' address that the mail
is coming from (as opposed to the address you should reply to,
which may look much different), and what places the mail went through to
get to you. Over the Internet, there is always at least one
Received: header and usually no more than four or five. When a
message is sent using UUCP, one Received: header is added for each
system that the mail passes through. This can often result in more
than a dozen Received: headers. While they help with dissecting
problems in mail delivery, odds are the average user will never
want to see them. Most mail programs will filter out this kind of
``cruft'' in a header.

The Date: header contains the date and time the message was
sent. Likewise, the ``good'' address (as opposed to ``real''
address) is laid out in the From: header. Sometimes it won't include
the full name of the person (in this case The President), and
may look different, but it should always contain an email address
of some form.

The Message-ID: of a message is intended mainly for tracing
mail routing, and is rarely of interest to normal users. Every
Message-ID: is guaranteed to be unique.

To: lists the email address (or addresses) of the recipients of
the message. There may be a Cc: header, listing additional
addresses. Finally, a brief subject for the message goes in the
Subject: header.

The exact order of a message's headers may vary from system to
system, but it will always include these fundamental headers that are vital
to proper delivery.

Bounced Mail

When an email address is incorrect in some way (the system's name
is wrong, the domain doesn't exist, whatever), the mail system will
bounce the message back to the sender, much the same way that the
Postal Service does when you send a letter to a bad street address.
The message will include the reason for the bounce; a common error
is addressing mail to an account name that doesn't exist. For
example, writing to Lisa Simpson at Widener University's Computer Science
department will fail, because she doesn't have an account. {Though
if she asked, we'd certainly give her one.}

From: Mail Delivery Subsystem
Date: Sat, 25 May 91 16:45:14 -0400
To: [email protected]
Cc: [email protected]
Subject: Returned mail: User unknown

----- Transcript of session follows -----
While talking to
>>> RCPT To:
<<< 550 ... User unknown
550 lsimpson... User unknown

As you can see, a carbon copy of the message (the Cc: header
entry) was sent to the postmaster of Widener's CS department. The
Postmaster is responsible for maintaining a reliable mail system
on his system. Usually postmasters at sites will attempt to aid
you in getting your mail where it's supposed to go. If a typing error
was made, then try re-sending the message. If you're sure that the
address is correct, contact the postmaster of the site directly and
ask him how to properly address it.

The message also includes the text of the mail, so you don't have
to retype everything you wrote.

----- Unsent message follows -----
Received: by id AA06528; Sat, 25 May 91 16:45:14
Date: Sat, 25 May 91 16:45:14 -0400
From: Matt Groening
Message-Id: <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Subject: Scripting your future episodes
Reply-To: [email protected]

.... verbiage ...

The full text of the message is returned intact, including any
headers that were added. This can be cut out with an editor and fed right
back into the mail system with a proper address, making redelivery
a relatively painless process.

Mailing Lists

People that share common interests are inclined to discuss their
hobby or interest at every available opportunity. One modern way
to aid in this exchange of information is by using a mailing
list---usually an email address that redistributes all mail sent
to it back out to a list of addresses. For example, the Sun Managers
mailing list (of interest to people that administer computers
manufactured by Sun) has the address [email protected].
Any mail sent to that address will ``explode'' out to each person named
in a file maintained on a computer at Northwestern University.

Administrative tasks (sometimes referred to as administrivia) are
often handled through other addresses, typically with the suffix
-request. To continue the above, a request to be added to or
deleted from the Sun Managers list should be sent to
[email protected].

When in doubt, try to write to the -request version of a mailing
list address first; the other people on the list aren't interested in
your desire to be added or deleted, and can certainly do nothing to
expedite your request. Often if the administrator of a list is
busy (remember, this is all peripheral to real jobs and real work), many
users find it necessary to ask again and again, often with harsher
and harsher language, to be removed from a list. This does nothing
more than waste traffic and bother everyone else receiving the
messages. If, after a reasonable amount of time, you still haven't
succeeded to be removed from a mailing list, write to the
postmaster at that site and see if they can help.

Exercise caution when replying to a message sent by a mailing list.
If you wish to respond to the author only, make sure that the only
address you're replying to is that person, and not the entire list.
Often messages of the sort ``Yes, I agree with you completely!''
will appear on a list, boring the daylights out of the other readers.
Likewise, if you explicitly do want to send the message to the whole list,
you'll save yourself some time by checking to make sure it's indeed
headed to the whole list and not a single person.

A list of the currently available mailing lists is available in at
least two places; the first is in a file on called
interest-groups under the netinfo/ directory. It's updated fairly
regularly, but is large (presently around 700K), so only get it
every once in a while. The other list is maintained by Gene Spafford
([email protected]), and is posted in parts to the newsgroup
news.lists semi-regularly. (Usenet News, for info on how to read
that and other newsgroups.)


On BITNET there's an automated system for maintaining discussion
lists called the listserv. Rather than have an already harried and
overworked human take care of additions and removals from a list,
a program performs these and other tasks by responding to a set of
user-driven commands.

Areas of interest are wide and varied---ETHICS-L deals with ethics
in computing, while ADND-L has to do with a role-playing game. A full
list of the available BITNET lists can be obtained by writing to
[email protected] with a body containing the command

list global

However, be sparing in your use of this---see if it's already on
your system somewhere. The reply is quite large.

The most fundamental command is subscribe. It will tell the
listserv to add the sender to a specific list. The usage is

subscribe foo-l Your Real Name

It will respond with a message either saying that you've been added
to the list, or that the request has been passed on to the system on
which the list is actually maintained.

The mate to subscribe is, naturally, unsubscribe. It will remove
a given address from a BITNET list. It, along with all other
listserv commands, can be abbreviated---subscribe as sub, unsubscribe as
unsub, etc. For a full list of the available listserv commands,
write to [email protected], giving it the command help.

As an aside, there have been implementations of the listserv system
for non-BITNET hosts (more specifically, Unix systems). One of the
most complete is available on in the
directory pub/listserv.

``I made this letter longer than usual because
I lack the time to make it shorter.''
Pascal, Provincial Letters XVI


Anonymous FTP

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is the primary method of transferring
files over the Internet. On many systems, it's also the name of
the program that implements the protocol. Given proper permission, it's
possible to copy a file from a computer in South Africa to one in
Los Angeles at very fast speeds (on the order of 5--10K per second).
This normally requires either a user id on both systems or a
special configuration set up by the system administrator(s).

There is a good way around this restriction---the anonymous FTP
service. It essentially will let anyone in the world have access
to a certain area of disk space in a non-threatening way. With this,
people can make files publicly available with little hassle. Some
systems have dedicated entire disks or even entire computers to
maintaining extensive archives of source code and information.
They include (Digital),
(Washington University in Saint Louis), and
(The Ohio State University).

The process involves the ``foreign'' user (someone not on the
system itself) creating an FTP connection and logging into the system as
the user anonymous, with an arbitrary password:

Name ( anonymous
Password: [email protected]

Custom and netiquette dictate that people respond to the
Password: query with an email address so that the sites can
track the level of FTP usage, if they desire. (Addresses for
information on email addresses).

The speed of the transfer depends on the speed of the underlying
link. A site that has a 9600bps SLIP connection will not get the
same throughput as a system with a 56k leased line (The Physical
Connection, for more on what kinds of connections can exist in a
network). Also, the traffic of all other users on that link will
affect performance. If there are thirty people all FTPing from one
site simultaneously, the load on the system (in addition to the
network connection) will degrade the overall throughput of the

FTP Etiquette

Lest we forget, the Internet is there for people to do work.
People using the network and the systems on it are doing so for a purpose,
whether it be research, development, whatever. Any heavy activity
takes away from the overall performance of the network as a whole.

The effects of an FTP connection on a site and its link can vary;
the general rule of thumb is that any extra traffic created detracts
from the ability of that site's users to perform their tasks. To help
be considerate of this, it's highly recommended that FTP sessions
be held only after normal business hours for that site, preferably
late at night. The possible effects of a large transfer will be
less destructive at 2 a.m. than 2 p.m. Also, remember that if it's past
dinner time in Maine, it's still early afternoon in
California---think in terms of the current time at the site that's being
visited, not of local time.

Basic Commands

While there have been many extensions to the various FTP clients
out there, there is a de facto ``standard'' set that everyone expects
to work. For more specific information, read the manual for your
specific FTP program. This section will only skim the bare minimum
of commands needed to operate an FTP session.

Creating the Connection

The actual command to use FTP will vary among operating systems;
for the sake of clarity, we'll use FTP here, since it's the most
general form.

There are two ways to connect to a system---using its hostname
or its Internet number. Using the hostname is usually preferred.
However, some sites aren't able to resolve hostnames properly,
and have no alternative. We'll assume you're able to use hostnames
for simplicity's sake. The form is

ftp somewhere.domain

Domains for help with reading and using domain names
(in the example below, somewhere.domain is

You must first know the name of the system you want to connect to.
We'll use as an example. On your system, type:


(the actual syntax will vary depending on the type of system the
connection's being made from). It will pause momentarily then
respond with the message

Connected to

and an initial prompt will appear:

220 uunet FTP server (Version 5.100 Mon Feb 11 17:13:28 EST 1991)
Name (

to which you should respond with anonymous:

220 uunet FTP server (Version 5.100 Mon Feb 11 17:13:28 EST 1991)
Name ( anonymous

The system will then prompt you for a password; as noted
previously, a good response is your email address:

331 Guest login ok, send ident as password.
Password: [email protected]
230 Guest login ok, access restrictions apply.

The password itself will not echo. This is to protect a user's
security when he or she is using a real account to FTP files
between machines. Once you reach the ftp> prompt, you know you're
logged in and ready to go.

Notice the in the Name: prompt? That's
another clue that anonymous FTP is special: FTP expects a normal
user accounts to be used for transfers.

At the ftp> prompt, you can type a number of commands to perform
various functions. One example is dir---it will list the files
in the current directory. Continuing the example from above:

ftp> dir

200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for /bin/ls.
total 3116
drwxr-xr-x 2 7 21 512 Nov 21 1988 .forward
-rw-rw-r-- 1 7 11 0 Jun 23 1988 .hushlogin
drwxrwxr-x 2 0 21 512 Jun 4 1990 Census
drwxrwxr-x 2 0 120 512 Jan 8 09:36 ClariNet
... etc etc ...
-rw-rw-r-- 1 7 14 42390 May 20 02:24 newthisweek.Z
... etc etc ...
-rw-rw-r-- 1 7 14 2018887 May 21 01:01 uumap.tar.Z
drwxrwxr-x 2 7 6 1024 May 11 10:58 uunet-info

226 Transfer complete.
5414 bytes received in 1.1 seconds (4.9 Kbytes/s)

The file newthisweek.Z was specifically included because we'll
be using it later. Just for general information, it happens to be
a listing of all of the files added to UUNET's archives during the
past week.

The directory shown is on a machine running the Unix operating
system---the dir command will produce different results on other
operating systems (e.g. TOPS, VMS, et al.). Learning to recognize
different formats will take some time. After a few weeks of
traversing the Internet, it proves easier to see, for example, how
large a file is on an operating system you're otherwise not
acquainted with.

With many FTP implementations, it's also possible to take the
output of dir and put it into a file on the local system with

ftp> dir n* outfilename

the contents of which can then be read outside of the live FTP
connection; this is particularly useful for systems with very long
directories (like The above example would put the
names of every file that begins with an n into the local file


At the beginning of an FTP session, the user is in a ``top-level''
directory. Most things are in directories below it (e.g. /pub).
To change the current directory, one uses the cd command. To change
to the directory pub, for example, one would type

ftp> cd pub

which would elicit the response

250 CWD command successful.

Meaning the ``Change Working Directory'' command (cd) worked
properly. Moving ``up'' a directory is more system-specific---in
Unix use the command cd .., and in VMS, cd [-].

get and put

The actual transfer is performed with the get and put
commands. To get a file from the remote computer to the local
system, the command takes the form:

ftp> get filename

where filename is the file on the remote system. Again using as an example, the file newthisweek.Z can be
retrieved with

ftp> get newthisweek.Z
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for newthisweek.Z (42390 bytes).
226 Transfer complete.
local: newthisweek.Z remote: newthisweek.Z
42553 bytes received in 6.9 seconds (6 Kbytes/s)

The section below on using binary mode instead of ASCII will
describe why this particular choice will result in a corrupt and
subsequently unusable file.

If, for some reason, you want to save a file under a different name
(e.g. your system can only have 14-character filenames, or can only
have one dot in the name), you can specify what the local filename
should be by providing get with an additional argument

ftp> get newthisweek.Z uunet-new

which will place the contents of the file newthisweek.Z in
uunet-new on the local system.

The transfer works the other way, too. The put command will
transfer a file from the local system to the remote system. If the
permissions are set up for an FTP session to write to a remote
directory, a file can be sent with

ftp> put filename

As with get, put will take a third argument, letting you
specify a different name for the file on the remote system.

ASCII vs Binary

In the example above, the file newthisweek.Z was transferred, but
supposedly not correctly. The reason is this: in a normal ASCII
transfer (the default), certain characters are translated between
systems, to help make text files more readable. However, when
binary files (those containing non-ASCII characters) are transferred, this
translation should not take place. One example is a binary
program---a few changed characters can render it completely

To avoid this problem, it's possible to be in one of two
modes---ASCII or binary. In binary mode, the file isn't translated in any way.
What's on the remote system is precisely what's received. The
commands to go between the two modes are:

ftp> ascii
200 Type set to A. (Note the A, which signifies ASCII mode.)

ftp> binary
200 Type set to I. (Set to Image format, for pure binary transfers.)

Note that each command need only be done once to take effect; if
user types binary, all transfers in that session are done in
binary mode (that is, unless ascii is typed later).

The transfer of newthisweek.Z will work if done as:

ftp> binary
200 Type set to I.
ftp> get newthisweek.Z
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for newthisweek.Z (42390
226 Transfer complete.
local: newthisweek.Z remote: newthisweek.Z
42390 bytes received in 7.2 seconds (5.8 Kbytes/s)

Note: The file size (42390) is different from that done
in ASCII mode (42553) bytes; and the number 42390 matches the one
in the listing of UUNET's top directory. We can be relatively sure
that we've received the file without any problems.

mget and mput

The commands mget and mput allow for multiple file
transfers using wildcards to get several files, or a whole set of
files at once, rather than having to do it manually one by one.
For example, to get all files that begin with the letter f, one
would type

ftp> mget f*

Similarly, to put all of the local files that end with .c:

ftp> mput *.c

Rather than reiterate what's been written a hundred times before,
consult a local manual for more information on wildcard matching
(every DOS manual, for example, has a section on it).

Normally, FTP assumes a user wants to be prompted for every file
in a mget or mput operation. You'll often need to get a whole set of
files and not have each of them confirmed---you know they're all
right. In that case, use the prompt command to turn the queries

ftp> prompt
Interactive mode off.

Likewise, to turn it back on, the prompt command should simply
be issued again.

Joe Granrose's List
Monthly, Joe Granrose ([email protected]) posts to Usenet
(Usenet News) an extensive list of sites offering anonymous FTP
service. It's available in a number of ways:

The Usenet groups comp.misc and comp.sources.wanted

Anonymous FTP from [], in

Write to [email protected] with a Subject: line of
and a message body of send help. Please don't bother Joe with your
requests---the server will provide you with the list.

The archie Server
archie is always in lowercase

A group of people at McGill University in Canada got together and
created a query system called archie. It was originally formed to be a
quick and easy way to scan the offerings of the many anonymous FTP
sites that are maintained around the world. As time progressed,
archie grew to include other valuable services as well.

The archie service is accessible through an interactive telnet
session, email queries, and command-line and X-window clients. The
email responses can be used along with FTPmail servers for those
not on the Internet. (FTP-by-Mail Servers, for info on using FTPmail

Using archie Today

Currently, archie tracks the contents of over 800 anonymous FTP
archive sites containing over a million files stored across the
Internet. Collectively, these files represent well over 50
gigabytes of information, with new entries being added daily.

The archie server automatically updates the listing information
from each site about once a month. This avoids constantly updating the
databases, which could waste network resources, yet ensures that
the information on each site's holdings is reasonably up to date.

To access archie interactively, telnet to one of the existing
servers. {See Telnet, for notes on using the telnet program.} They
include (New York, USA) (New Jersey, USA) (Maryland, USA) (Nebraska, USA) (the first Archie server, in Canada) (Finland) (Australia) (Great Britain)

At the login: prompt of one of the servers, enter archie to log in.
A greeting will be displayed, detailing information about ongoing
work in the archie project; the user will be left at a archie>
prompt, at which he may enter commands. Using help will yield
instructions on using the prog command to make queries, set to
control various aspects of the server's operation, et al. Type
quit at the prompt to leave archie. Typing the query prog vine.tar.Z
will yield a list of the systems that offer the source to the X-windows
program vine; a piece of the information returned looks like:

Host (
Last updated 10:30 7 Jan 1992

Location: /packages/X/contrib
FILE rw-r--r-- 15548 Oct 8 20:29 vine.tar.Z

Host (
Last updated 05:07 4 Jan 1992

Location: /pub/X11/contrib
FILE rw-rw-r-- 15548 Nov 8 03:25 vine.tar.Z

archie Clients

There are two main-stream archie clients, one called (naturally
enough) archie, the other xarchie (for X-Windows). They query the
archie databases and yield a list of systems that have the
requested file(s) available for anonymous FTP, without requiring an
interactive session to the server. For example, to find the same
information you tried with the server command prog, you could type

% archie vine.tar.Z
Location: /local/X11/more_contrib
FILE -rw-r--r-- 18854 Nov 15 1990 vine.tar.Z

Location: /pub/mnt/source/games
FILE -rw-r--r-- 12019 May 7 1988 vine.tar.Z

Location: /contrib
FILE -rw-r--r-- 15548 Oct 9 00:29 vine.tar.Z

Note that your system administrator may not have installed the
archie clients yet; the source is available on each of the archie servers,
in the directory archie/clients.

Using the X-windows client is much more intuitive---if it's
installed, just read its man page and give it a whirl. It's essential for the
networked desktop.

Mailing archie

Users limited to email connectivity to the Internet should send a
message to the address [email protected] with the single word
help in the body of the message. An email message will be returned
explaining how to use the email archie server, along with the
details of using FTPmail. Most of the commands offered by the telnet
interface can be used with the mail server.

The whatis database

In addition to offering access to anonymous FTP listings, archie
also permits access to the whatis description database. It includes
the names and brief synopses for over 3,500 public domain software
packages, datasets and informational documents located on the

Additional whatis databases are scheduled to be added in the
future. Planned offerings include listings for the names and
locations of online library catalog programs, the names of publicly
accessible electronic mailing lists, compilations of Frequently Asked
Questions lists, and archive sites for the most popular Usenet newsgroups.
Suggestions for additional descriptions or locations databases are
welcomed and should be sent to the archie developers at
[email protected].

``Was f@"ur pl@"undern!''
(``What a place to plunder!'')
Gebhard Leberecht Bl@"ucher

Usenet News

Original from: [email protected] (Chip Salzenberg)
[Most recent change: 19 May 1991 by [email protected] (Gene

The first thing to understand about Usenet is that it is widely
misunderstood. Every day on Usenet the ``blind men and the
elephant'' phenomenon appears, in spades. In the opinion of the
author, more flame wars (rabid arguments) arise because of a
lack of understanding of the nature of Usenet than from any other
source. And consider that such flame wars arise, of necessity,
among people who are on Usenet. Imagine, then, how poorly understood
Usenet must be by those outside!

No essay on the nature of Usenet can ignore the erroneous
impressions held by many Usenet users. Therefore, this section will treat
falsehoods first. Keep reading for truth. (Beauty, alas, is not
relevant to Usenet.)

What Usenet Is

Usenet is the set of machines that exchange articles tagged with
one or more universally-recognized labels, called newsgroups (or
``groups'' for short). (Note that the term newsgroup is correct,
while area, base, board, bboard, conference, round table, SIG, etc.
are incorrect. If you want to be understood, be accurate.)

The Diversity of Usenet

If the above definition of Usenet sounds vague, that's because it
is. It is almost impossible to generalize over all Usenet sites in any
non-trivial way. Usenet encompasses government agencies, large
universities, high schools, businesses of all sizes, home computers
of all descriptions, etc.

Every administrator controls his own site. No one has any real
control over any site but his own. The administrator gets his
power from the owner of the system he administers. As long as the owner
is happy with the job the administrator is doing, he can do whatever
he pleases, up to and including cutting off Usenet entirely. C'est
la vie.

What Usenet Is Not

Usenet is not an organization.
Usenet has no central authority. In fact, it has no central anything.
There is a vague notion of ``upstream'' and ``downstream'' related to
the direction of high-volume news flow. It follows that, to the
extent that ``upstream'' sites decide what traffic they will carry for
their ``downstream'' neighbors, that ``upstream'' sites have some
influence on their neighbors. But such influence is usually easy to
circumvent, and heavy-handed manipulation typically results in a
backlash of resentment.

Usenet is not a democracy.
A democracy can be loosely defined as ``government of the people, by
the people, for the people.'' However, as explained above, Usenet is
not an organization, and only an organization can be run as a
democracy. Even a democracy must be organized, for if it lacks a
means of enforcing the peoples' wishes, then it may as well not exist.

Some people wish that Usenet were a democracy. Many people pretend
that it is. Both groups are sadly deluded.

Usenet is not fair.
After all, who shall decide what's fair? For that matter, if someone
is behaving unfairly, who's going to stop him? Neither you nor I,
that's certain.

Usenet is not a right.
Some people misunderstand their local right of ``freedom of speech''
to mean that they have a legal right to use others' computers to say
what they wish in whatever way they wish, and the owners of said
computers have no right to stop them.

Those people are wrong. Freedom of speech also means freedom not to
speak; if I choose not to use my computer to aid your speech, that is
my right. Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one.

Usenet is not a public utility.
Some Usenet sites are publicly funded or subsidized. Most of them,
by plain count, are not. There is no government monopoly on Usenet,
and little or no control.

Usenet is not a commercial network.
Many Usenet sites are academic or government organizations; in fact,
Usenet originated in academia. Therefore, there is a Usenet custom of
keeping commercial traffic to a minimum. If such commercial traffic
is generally considered worth carrying, then it may be grudgingly
tolerated. Even so, it is usually separated somehow from
non-commercial traffic; see comp.newprod.

Usenet is not the Internet.
The Internet is a wide-ranging network, parts of which are
subsidized by various governments. The Internet carries many kinds of
traffic; Usenet is only one of them. And the Internet is only one of the
various networks carrying Usenet traffic.

Usenet is not a Unix network, nor even an ASCII network.

Don't assume that everyone is using ``rn'' on a Unix machine.
There are Vaxen running VMS, IBM mainframes, Amigas, and MS-DOS PCs
reading and posting to Usenet. And, yes, some of them use (shudder)
EBCDIC. Ignore them if you like, but they're out there.

Usenet is not software.
There are dozens of software packages used at various sites to
transport and read Usenet articles. So no one program or package
can be called ``the Usenet software.''

Software designed to support Usenet traffic can be (and is) used
for other kinds of communication, usually without risk of mixing the
two. Such private communication networks are typically kept distinct
from Usenet by the invention of newsgroup names different from the
universally-recognized ones.

Usenet is not a UUCP network.

UUCP is a protocol (some might say protocol suite, but that's a
technical point) for sending data over point-to-point connections,
typically using dialup modems. Usenet is only one of the various
kinds of traffic carried via UUCP, and UUCP is only one of the
various transports carrying Usenet traffic.

Well, enough negativity.

Propagation of News

In the old days, when UUCP over long-distance dialup lines was the
dominant means of article transmission, a few well-connected sites
had real influence in determining which newsgroups would be carried
where. Those sites called themselves ``the backbone.''

But things have changed. Nowadays, even the smallest Internet site
has connectivity the likes of which the backbone admin of
yesteryear could only dream. In addition, in the U.S., the advent of
cheaper long-distance calls and high-speed modems has made long-distance
Usenet feeds thinkable for smaller companies. There is only one
pre-eminent UUCP transport site today in the U.S., namely UUNET.

But UUNET isn't a player in the propagation wars, because it never
refuses any traffic---it gets paid by the minute, after all; to
refuse based on content would jeopardize its legal status as an
enhanced service provider.

All of the above applies to the U.S. In Europe, different cost
structures favored the creation of strictly controlled hierarchical
organizations with central registries. This is all very unlike the
traditional mode of U.S. sites (pick a name, get the software, get a
feed, you're on). Europe's ``benign monopolies'', long uncontested,
now face competition from looser organizations patterned after the
U.S. model.

Group Creation

As discussed above, Usenet is not a democracy. Nevertheless,
currently the most popular way to create a new newsgroup involves a
``vote'' to determine popular support for (and opposition to) a
proposed newsgroup. Newsgroup Creation, for detailed instructions and
guidelines on the process involved in making a newsgroup.

If you follow the guidelines, it is probable that your group will
be created and will be widely propagated. However, due to the nature
of Usenet, there is no way for any user to enforce the results of a
newsgroup vote (or any other decision, for that matter).

Therefore, for your new newsgroup to be propagated widely, you must not
only follow the letter of the guidelines; you must also follow its
spirit. And you must not allow even a whiff of shady dealings or dirty
tricks to mar the vote.

So, you may ask: How is a new user supposed to know anything about
the ``spirit'' of the guidelines? Obviously, she can't. This fact
leads inexorably to the following recommendation:

If you're a new user, don't try to create a new newsgroup alone.

If you have a good newsgroup idea, then read the news.groups
newsgroup for a while (six months, at least) to find out how things
work. If you're too impatient to wait six months, then you really
need to learn; read news.groups for a year instead. If you just
can't wait, find a Usenet old hand to run the vote for you.

Readers may think this advice unnecessarily strict. Ignore it at
your peril. It is embarrassing to speak before learning. It is foolish
to jump into a society you don't understand with your mouth open. And
it is futile to try to force your will on people who can tune you out
with the press of a key.

If You're Unhappy...
Property rights being what they are, there is no higher authority
on Usenet than the people who own the machines on which Usenet traffic
is carried. If the owner of the machine you use says, ``We will not
carry on this machine,'' and you are not happy with
that order, you have no Usenet recourse. What can we outsiders do,
after all?

That doesn't mean you are without options. Depending on the nature
of your site, you may have some internal political recourse. Or you
might find external pressure helpful. Or, with a minimal
investment, you can get a feed of your own from somewhere else.
Computers capable of taking Usenet feeds are down in the $500 range now,
Unix-capable boxes are going for under $2000, and there are at least two Unix
lookalikes in the $100 price range.

No matter what, appealing to ``Usenet'' won't help. Even if those
who read such an appeal regarding system administration are sympathetic
to your cause, they will almost certainly have even less influence at
your site than you do.

By the same token, if you don't like what some user at another site
is doing, only the administrator and/or owner of that site have any
authority to do anything about it. Persuade them that the user in
question is a problem for them, and they might do something (if
they feel like it). If the user in question is the administrator or
owner of the site from which he or she posts, forget it; you can't win.
Arrange for your newsreading software to ignore articles from him
or her if you can, and chalk one up to experience.

The History of Usenet (The ABCs)

In the beginning, there were conversations, and they were good.
Then came Usenet in 1979, shortly after the release of V7 Unix with
UUCP; and it was better. Two Duke University grad students in North
Carolina, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, thought of hooking computers
together to exchange information with the Unix community. Steve
Bellovin, a grad student at the University of North Carolina, put
together the first version of the news software using shell scripts
and installed it on the first two sites: unc and duke. At the
beginning of 1980 the network consisted of those two sites and phs
(another machine at Duke), and was described at the January 1980
Usenix conference in Boulder, CO. {The Usenix conferences are
semi-annual meetings where members of the Usenix Association, a
group of Unix enthusiasts, meet and trade notes.} Steve Bellovin
later rewrote the scripts into C programs, but they were never
released beyond unc and duke. Shortly thereafter, Steve Daniel did
another implementation in the C programming language for public
distribution. Tom Truscott made further modifications, and this
became the ``A'' news release.

In 1981 at the University of California at Berkeley, grad student
Mark Horton and high school student Matt Glickman rewrote the news
software to add functionality and to cope with the ever increasing volume
of news---``A'' news was intended for only a few articles per group
per day. This rewrite was the ``B'' news version. The first public
release was version 2.1 in 1982; all versions before 2.1 were
considered in beta test. As The Net grew, the news software was
expanded and modified. The last version maintained and released
primarily by Mark was 2.10.1.

Rick Adams, then at the Center for Seismic Studies, took over
coordination of the maintenance and enhancement of the news
software with the 2.10.2 release in 1984. By this time, the increasing
volume of news was becoming a concern, and the mechanism for moderated
groups was added to the software at 2.10.2. Moderated groups were
inspired by ARPA mailing lists and experience with other bulletin board
systems. In late 1986, version 2.11 of news was released,
including a number of changes to support a new naming structure for
newsgroups, enhanced batching and compression, enhanced ihave/sendme
control messages, and other features. The current release of news is 2.11,
patchlevel 19.

A new version of news, becoming known as ``C'' news, has been
developed at the University of Toronto by Geoff Collyer and Henry
Spencer. This version is a rewrite of the lowest levels of news to
increase article processing speed, decrease article expiration
processing and improve the reliability of the news system through
better locking, etc. The package was released to The Net in the
autumn of 1987. For more information, see the paper News Need Not
Be Slow, published in the Winter 1987 Usenix Technical Conference

Usenet software has also been ported to a number of platforms, from
the Amiga and IBM PCs all the way to minicomputers and mainframes.

Newsgroups are organized according to their specific areas of
concentration. Since the groups are in a tree structure, the
various areas are called hierarchies. There are seven major

Topics of interest to both computer professionals and
hobbyists, including topics in computer science, software sources,
and information on hardware and software systems.

Group addressing themes not easily classified into any of the other
headings or which incorporate themes from multiple categories.
Subjects include fitness, job-hunting, law, and investments.

Discussions marked by special knowledge relating to research in or
application of the established sciences.

Groups primarily addressing social issues and socializing.
Included are discussions related to many different world cultures.

Groups largely debate-oriented and tending to feature long
discussions without resolution and without appreciable amounts of
generally useful information.

Groups concerned with the news network, group maintenance, and

Groups oriented towards hobbies and recreational activities

These ``world'' newsgroups are (usually) circulated around the
entire Usenet---this implies world-wide distribution. Not all groups
actually enjoy such wide distribution, however. The European
Usenet and Eunet sites take only a selected subset of the more
``technical'' groups, and controversial ``noise'' groups are often not carried
by many sites in the U.S. and Canada (these groups are primarily under the
talk and soc classifications). Many sites do not carry some or all of
the comp.binaries groups because of the typically large size of
the posts in them (being actual executable programs).

Also available are a number of ``alternative'' hierarchies:

True anarchy; anything and everything can and does appear;
subjects include sex, the Simpsons, and privacy.

Groups concentrating on interests and software with the GNU
Project of the Free Software Foundation. For further info on what
the FSF is, FSF.

Business-related groups.

Moderated vs Unmoderated

Some newsgroups insist that the discussion remain focused and
on-target; to serve this need, moderated groups came to be. All
articles posted to a moderated group get mailed to the group's
moderator. He or she periodically (hopefully sooner than later)
reviews the posts, and then either posts them individually to
Usenet, or posts a composite digest of the articles for the past day or
two. This is how many mailing list gateways work (for example, the
Risks Digest).

news.groups & news.announce.newgroups

Being a good net.citizen includes being involved in the continuing
growth and evolution of the Usenet system. One part of this
involvement includes following the discussion in the groups
news.groups and the notes in news.announce.newgroups. It is there
that discussion goes on about the creation of new groups and
destruction of inactive ones. Every person on Usenet is allowed
and encouraged to vote on the creation of a newsgroup.

How Usenet Works

The transmission of Usenet news is entirely cooperative. Feeds are
generally provided out of good will and the desire to distribute
news everywhere. There are places which provide feeds for a fee (e.g.
UUNET), but for the large part no exchange of money is involved.

There are two major transport methods, UUCP and NNTP. The first
is mainly modem-based and involves the normal charges for telephone
calls. The second, NNTP, is the primary method for distributing
news over the Internet.

With UUCP, news is stored in batches on a site until the
neighbor calls to receive the articles, or the feed site happens
to call. A list of groups which the neighbor wishes to receive is
maintained on the feed site. The Cnews system compresses its batches,
which can dramatically reduce the transmission time necessary for
a relatively heavy newsfeed.

NNTP, on the other hand, offers a little more latitude with how
news is sent. The traditional store-and-forward method is, of course,
available. Given the ``real-time'' nature of the Internet, though,
other methods have been devised. Programs now keep constant
connections with their news neighbors, sending news nearly
instantaneously, and can handle dozens of simultaneous feeds, both
incoming and outgoing.

The transmission of a Usenet article is centered around the unique
Message-ID: header. When an NNTP site offers an article to a
neighbor, it says it has that specific Message ID. If the neighbor
finds it hasn't received the article yet, it tells the feed to send
it through; this is repeated for each and every article that's waiting
for the neighbor. Using unique IDs helps prevent a system from
receiving five copies of an article from each of its five news
neighbors, for example.

Further information on how Usenet works with relation to the various
transports is available in the documentation for the Cnews and NNTP
packages, as well as in RFC-1036, the Standard for Interchange of
USENET Messages and RFC-977, Network News Transfer Protocol:
A Proposed Standard for the Stream-Based Transmission of News. The
RFCs do tend to be rather dry reading, particularly to the new

Mail Gateways

A natural progression is for Usenet news and electronic mailing
lists to somehow become merged---which they have, in the form of news
gateways. Many mailing lists are set up to ``reflect'' messages
not only to the readership of the list, but also into a newsgroup.
Likewise, posts to a newsgroup can be sent to the moderator of the
mailing list, or to the entire mailing list. Some examples of this
in action are comp.risks (the Risks Digest) and
comp.dcom.telecom (the Telecom Digest).

This method of propagating mailing list traffic has helped solve
the problem of a single message being delivered to a number of people
at the same site---instead, anyone can just subscribe to the group.
Also, mailing list maintenance is lowered substantially, since the
moderators don't have to be constantly removing and adding users
to and from the list. Instead, the people can read and not read the
newsgroup at their leisure.

from ``Dear Emily Postnews'' by Brad Templeton
Usenet ``Netiquette''

There are many traditions with Usenet, not the least of which is
dubbed netiquette---being polite and considerate of others. If
you follow a few basic guidelines, you, and everyone that reads
your posts, will be much happier in the long run.


At the end of most articles is a small blurb called a person's
signature. In Unix this file is named .signature in the
person's login directory---it will vary for other operating
systems. It exists to provide information about how to get in touch with the
person posting the article, including their email address, phone
number, address, or where they're located. Even so, signatures
have become the graffiti of computers. People put song lyrics,
pictures, philosophical quotes, even advertisements in their ``.sigs''.
(Note, however, that advertising in your signature will more often
than not get you flamed until you take it out.)

Four lines will suffice---more is just extra garbage for Usenet
sites to carry along with your article, which is supposed to be the
intended focus of the reader. Netiquette dictates limiting oneself to this
``quota'' of four---some people make signatures that are ten lines
or even more, including elaborate ASCII drawings of their hand-written
signature or faces or even the space shuttle. This is not
cute, and will bother people to no end.

Similarly, it's not necessary to include your signature---if you
forget to append it to an article, don't worry about it. The
article's just as good as it ever would be, and contains everything
you should want to say. Don't re-post the article just to include
the signature.

Posting Personal Messages

If mail to a person doesn't make it through, avoid posting the
message to a newsgroup. Even if the likelihood of that person reading the
group is very high, all of the other people reading the articles
don't give a whit what you have to say to Jim Morrison. Simply wait for
the person to post again and double-check the address, or get in touch
with your system administrator and see if it's a problem with local
email delivery. It may also turn out that their site is down or
is having problems, in which case it's just necessary to wait until
things return to normal before contacting Jim.

Posting Mail

In the interests of privacy, it's considered extremely bad taste
to post any email that someone may have sent, unless they explicitly give
you permission to redistribute it. While the legal issues can be heavily
debated, most everyone agrees that email should be treated as
anything one would receive via normal snailmail, {The slang for the normal
land and air postal service.} , with all of the assumed rights that are carried
with it.

Test Messages

Many people, particularly new users, want to try out posting before
actually taking part in discussions. Often the mechanics of getting
messages out is the most difficult part of Usenet. To this end,
many, many users find it necessary to post their tests to ``normal''
groups (for example, news.admin or comp.mail.misc). This is
considered a major netiquette faux pas in the Usenet world. There are
a number of groups available, called test groups, that exist solely
for the purpose of trying out a news system, reader, or even new
signature. They include


some of which will generate auto-magic replies to your posts to
let you know they made it through. There are certain denizens of
Usenet that frequent the test groups to help new users out. They
respond to the posts, often including the article so the poster can
see how it got to the person's site. Also, many regional
hierarchies have test groups, like phl.test in Philadelphia.

By all means, experiment and test---just do it in its proper place.

Famous People Appearing

Every once in a while, someone says that a celebrity is accessible
through ``The Net''; or, even more entertaining, an article is
forged to appear to be coming from that celebrity. One example is Stephen
Spielberg---the rec.arts.movies readership was in an uproar for
two weeks following a couple of posts supposedly made by Mr.
Spielberg. (Some detective work revealed it to be a hoax.)

There are a few well-known people that are acquainted with
Usenet and computers in general---but the overwhelming majority are
just normal people. One should act with skepticism whenever a
notable personality is ``seen'' in a newsgroup.


Authors of articles occasionally say that readers should reply by
mail and they'll summarize. Accordingly, readers should do just
that---reply via mail. Responding with a followup article to such
an article defeats the intention of the author. She, in a few days,
will post one article containing the highlights of the responses
she received. By following up to the whole group, the author may not
read what you have to say.

When creating a summary of the replies to a post, try to make it
as reader-friendly as possible. Avoid just putting all of the
messages received into one big file. Rather, take some time and edit the
messages into a form that contains the essential information that
other readers would be interested in.

Also, sometimes people will respond but request to remain anonymous
(one example is the employees of a corporation that feel the
information's not proprietary, but at the same time want to protect
themselves from political backlash). Summaries should honor this
request accordingly by listing the From: address as
anonymous or (Address withheld by request).


When following up to an article, many newsreaders provide the
facility to quote the original article with each line prefixed by > , as in

In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] wrote:
> I agree, I think that basketweaving's really catching on,
> particularly in Pennsylvania. Here's a list of every person
> in PA that currently engages in it publicly:
line ... etc ...

This is a severe example (potentially a horribly long article), but
proves a point. When you quote another person, edit out whatever
isn't directly applicable to your reply. {But not changing their
words, of course. } This gives the reader of the new article a
better idea of what points you were addressing. By including the entire
article, you'll only annoy those reading it. Also, signatures in
the original aren't necessary; the readers already know who wrote it
(by the attribution).

Avoid being tedious with responses---rather than pick apart an
article, address it in parts or as a whole. Addressing practically
each and every word in an article only proves that the person
responding has absolutely nothing better to do with his time.

If a ``war'' starts (insults and personal comments get thrown back
and forth), take it into email---exchange email with the person
you're arguing with. No one enjoys watching people bicker


The Newsgroups: line isn't limited to just one group---an
article can be posted in a list of groups. For instance, the line


posts the article to both the groups and
comp.simulation. It's usually safe to crosspost to up to three
or four groups. To list more than that is considered ``excessive

It's also suggested that if an article is crossposted a
Followup-To: header be included. It should name the group to
which all additional discussion should be directed to. For the
above example a possible Followup-To: would be


which would make all followups automatically be posted to just, rather than both and comp.simulation. If
every response made with a newsreader's ``followup'' command should go
to the person posting the article no matter what, there's also a
mechanism worked in to accommodate. The Followup-To: header should
contain the single word poster:

Followup-To: poster

Certain newsreaders will use this to sense that a reply should never
be posted back onto The Net. This is often used with questions that
will yield a summary of information later, a vote, or an advertisement.

Recent News

One should avoid posting ``recent'' events---sports scores, a plane
crash, or whatever people will see on the evening news or read in the
morning paper. By the time the article has propagated across all
of Usenet, the ``news'' value of the article will have become stale.
(This is one case for the argument that Usenet news is a misnomer.
{Note that the Clarinet News service (Clarinet) offers news items
in a Usenet format as a precise alternative to the morning paper, et.

Quality of Postings

How you write and present yourself in your articles is important.
If you have terrible spelling, keep a dictionary near by. If you have
trouble with grammar and punctuation, try to get a book on English
grammar and composition (found in many bookstores and at garage
sales). By all means pay attention to what you say---it makes you
who you are on The Net.

Likewise, try to be clear in what you ask. Ambiguous or vague
questions often lead to no response at all, leaving the poster
discouraged. Give as much essential information as you feel is
necessary to let people help you, but keep it within limits. For
instance, you should probably include the operating system of your
computer in the post if it's needed, but don't tell everybody what
peripherals you have hanging off of it.

Useful Subjects

The Subject: line of an article is what will first attract
people to read it---if it's vague or doesn't describe what's
contained within, no one will read the article. At the same time,
Subject: lines that're too wordy tend to be irritating. For

Subject: Building Emacs on a Sun Sparc under 4.1

Subject: Tryin' to find Waldo in NJ.

Subject: I can't get emacs to work !!!

Subject: I'm desperately in search of the honorable Mr. Waldo in
the state

Simply put, try to think of what will best help the reader when he
or she encounters your article in a newsreading session.

Tone of Voice

Since common computers can't portray the inflection or tone in a
person's voice, how articles are worded can directly affect the
response to them. If you say

Anybody using a Vic-20 should go buy themselves a life.

you'll definitely get some responses---telling you to take a leap.
Rather than be inflammatory, phrase your articles in a way that
rationally expresses your opinion, like

What're the practical uses of a Vic-20 these days?

which presents yourself as a much more level-headed individual.

Also, what case (upper or lower) you use can indicate how you're
trying to speak---netiquette dictates that if you USE ALL CAPITAL
LETTERS, people will think you're ``shouting.'' Write as you would in
a normal letter to a friend, following traditional rules of English
(or whatever language you happen to speak).

Computer Religion

No matter what kind of computer a person is using, theirs is always
the best and most efficient of them all. Posting articles
asking questions like What computer should I buy? An Atari ST or
an Amiga? will lead only to fervent arguments over the merits and
drawbacks of each brand. Don't even ask The Net---go to a local
user group, or do some research of your own like reading some magazine
reviews. Trying to say one computer is somehow better than another
is a moot point.

The Anatomy of an Article

Frequently Asked Questions

A number of groups include Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) lists,
which give the answers to questions or points that have been raised
time and time again in a newsgroup. They're intended to help cut
down on the redundant traffic in a group. For example, in the
newsgroup, one recurring question is Did you notice
that there's a different blackboard opening at the beginning of
every Simpsons episode? As a result, it's part of the FAQ for that

Usually, FAQ lists are posted at the beginning of each month, and
are set to expire one month later (when, supposedly, the next FAQ will
be published). Nearly every FAQ is also crossposted to news.answers,
which is used as a Usenet repository for them.

The Pit-Manager Archive

MIT, with Jonathan Kamens, has graciously dedicated a machine to
the archiving and storage of the various periodic postings that are
peppered throughout the various Usenet groups. To access them, FTP
to the system and look in the directory

``Be it true or false, so it be news.''
Ben Jonson, News from the New World


Telnet is the main Internet protocol for creating a connection
with a remote machine. It gives the user the opportunity to be on one
computer system and do work on another, which may be across the street
or thousands of miles away. Where modems are limited, in the majority,
by the quality of telephone lines and a single connection, telnet
provides a connection that's error-free and nearly always faster than
the latest conventional modems.

Using Telnet

As with FTP (Anonymous FTP), the actual command for negotiating a
telnet connection varies from system to system. The most common is
telnet itself, though. It takes the form of:

telnet somewhere.domain

To be safe, we'll use your local system as a working example. By
now, you hopefully know your site's domain name. If not, ask or try
to figure it out. You'll not get by without it.

To open the connection, type


If the system were, for example, the
command would look like


The system will respond with something similar to

Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.

The escape character, in this example ^] (Control-]), is the
character that will let you go back to the local system to close
the connection, suspend it, etc. To close this connection, the user
would type ^], and respond to the telnet> prompt with the command
close. Local documentation should be checked for information on
specific commands, functions, and escape character that can be

Telnet Ports

Many telnet clients also include a third option, the port on
which the connection should take place. Normally, port 23 is the
default telnet port; the user never has to think about it. But
sometimes it's desirable to telnet to a different port on a system,
where there may be a service available, or to aid in debugging a
problem. Using

telnet somewhere.domain port

will connect the user to the given port on the system
somewhere.domain. Many libraries use this port method to offer
their facilities to the general Internet community; other services are
also available. For instance, one would type

telnet 3000

to connect to the geographic server at the University of Michigan
(Geographic Server). Other such port connections follow the
same usage.

Publicly Accessible Libraries

Over the last several years, most university libraries have switched
from a manual (card) catalog system to computerized library catalogs.
The automated systems provide users with easily accessible and
up-to-date information about the books available in these
libraries. This has been further improved upon with the advent of local area
networks, dialup modems, and wide area networks. Now many of us can
check on our local library's holdings or that of a library halfway
around the world!

Many, many institutions of higher learning have made their library
catalogs available for searching by anyone on the Internet. They
include Boston University, the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries
(CARL), and London University King's College.

To include a listing of some of the existing sites would not only be
far too long for this document, it would soon be out of date.
Instead, several lists are being maintained and are available either
by mail or via FTP. Also, the Internet Resource Guide (IRG) also
describes a few libraries that are accessible---IRG for further

Art St. George and Ron Larsen are maintaining a list of
Internet-accessible libraries and databases often referred to as
``the St. George directory.'' It began with only library catalogs
but has expanded to include sections on campus-wide information
systems, and even bulletin board systems that are not on the
Internet. The library catalog sections are divided into those that
are free, those that charge, and international (i.e. non-U.S.)
catalogs; they are arranged by state, province, or country within
each section. There is also a section giving dialup information
for some of the library catalogs. It's available for FTP (Anonymous
FTP) on in the directory
cerfnet/cerfnet_info/library_catalog. The file internet-catalogs
has a date suffix; check for the most current date. The information
is updated periodically.

Billy Barron, Systems Manager at the University of North Texas,
produces a directory as an aid to his user community. It
complements the St. George guide by providing a standard format for
all systems which lists the Internet address, login instructions,
the system vendor, and logoff information. The arrangement is
alphabetic by organization name. It's available for FTP on in the subdirectory library as the file libraries.txt.

For announcements of new libraries being available and discussion
on related topics, consult the Usenet newsgroup
comp.internet.library (Usenet News to learn how to read news).

Bulletin Board Systems

The Cleveland Freenet

Freenets are open-access, free, community computer systems. One
such system is the Cleveland Freenet, sponsored by CWRU (Case Western
Reserve University). Anyone and everyone is welcome to join and
take part in the exciting project---that of a National Telecomputing
Public Network, where everyone benefits. There's no charge for the
registration process and no charge to use the system.

To register, telnet to any one of

After you're connected, choose the entry on the menu that signifies
you're a guest user. Another menu will follow; select Apply for
an account, and you'll be well on your way to being a FreeNet

You will need to fill out a form and send it to them through the
Postal Service---your login id and password will be created in a
few days. At that point you're free to use the system as you wish.
They provide multi-user chat, email, Usenet news, and a variety of other
things to keep you occupied for hours on end.


There are a few systems that are maintained to provide the Internet
community with access to lists of information---users,
organizations, etc. They range from fully dedicated computers with access to
papers and research results, to a system to find out about the faculty
members of a university.


Knowbot is a ``master directory'' that contains email address
information from the NIC WHOIS database (Whois), the PSI White
Pages Pilot Project, the NYSERNET X.500 database and MCI Mail.
Most of these services are email registries themselves, but Knowbot
provides a very comfortable way to access all of them in one place.
Telnet to on port 185.

White Pages

PSI maintains a directory of information on individuals. It will
list the person's name, organization, and email address if it is
given. Telnet to and log in as fred. The White Pages
Project also includes an interface to use Xwindows remotely.

Faculty and Staff Listings

Many universities offer access to information on current faculty
and staff. Included are:

Cornell Telnet to on port 3000.
NC State Telnet to and log in as info.
Rutgers Telnet to on port 98.
U of Maryland Telnet to and log in as lookup.
UNC Chapel Hill Telnet to and log in as info.
Yale Telnet to on port 300.


For information on database services, Commercial Databases.
Not all databases on the Internet require payment for use, though.
There do exist some, largely research-driven databases, which are
publicly accessible. New ones spring up regularly.

To find out more about the databases in this section, contact the
people directly responsible for them. Their areas of concentration
and the software used to implement them are widely disparate, and are
probably beyond the author's expertise. Also, don't forget to
check with your local library---the reference librarian there can provide
information on conventional resources, and possibly even those
available over the Internet (they are becoming more common).

Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (CARL)

The Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (CARL), in association
with CARL Systems Inc., operates a public access catalog of
services. Offered are a number of library databases, including searches for
government periodicals, book reviews, indices for current articles,
and access to to other library databases around the country. Other
services are available to CARL members including an online
encyclopedia. Telnet to, or write to [email protected]
for more details.


PENpages is an agriculturally-oriented database administered by
Pennsylvania State University. Information entered into PENpages is
provided by numerous sources including the Pennsylvania Dept. of
Agriculture, Rutgers University, and Penn State. Easy-to-use menus
guide users to information ranging from cattle and agricultural
prices to current weather information, from health information to
agricultural news from around the nation. A keyword search option
also allows users to search the database for related information
and articles. The database is updated daily, and a listing of most
recent additions is displayed after login. Telnet to and log in as the user PNOTPA.

Clemson Univ. Forestry & Agricultural Network

Clemson maintains a database similar to PENpages in content, but
the information provided tends to be localized to the Southeastern
United States. A menu-driven database offers queries involving the
weather, food, family, and human resources. Telnet to
and log in as PUBLIC. You need to be on a good VT100 emulator (or a
real VT terminal).

University of Maryland Info Database

The Computer Science department of the University of Maryland
maintains a repository of information on a wide variety of topics.
They wish to give a working example of how network technology can
(and should) provide as much information as possible to those who
use it. Telnet to and log in as info. The information
contained in the database is accessible through a screen-oriented
interface, and everything therein is available via anonymous FTP.

There is a mailing list used to discuss the UMD Info Database,
welcoming suggestions for new information, comments on the
interface the system provides, and other related topics. Send mail to
[email protected] with a body of

subscribe INFO-L Your Full Name

Listservs for more information on using the Listserv system.

University of Michigan Weather Underground

The University of Michigan's Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic,
& Space Sciences maintains a database of weather and related
information for the United States and Canada. Available are
current weather conditions and forecasts for cities in the U.S., a national
weather summary, ski conditions, earthquake and hurricane updates,
and a listing of severe weather conditions. Telnet to on port 3000 to use the system.

Geographic Name Server

A geographic database listing information for cities in the United
States and some international locations is maintained by Merit,
Inc. The database is searchable by city name, zip code, etc. It will
respond with a lot of information: the area code,
elevation, time zone, and longitude and latitude are included. For
example, a query of 19013 yields

0 Chester
1 42045 Delaware
2 PA Pennsylvania
3 US United States
F 45 Populated place
L 39 50 58 N 75 21 22 W
P 45794
E 22
Z 19013
Z 19014
Z 19015
Z 19016

To use the server, telnet to on port
3000. The command help will yield further instructions, along
with an explanation for each of the fields in a reponse.

FEDIX---Minority Scholarship Information

FEDIX is an on-line information service that links the higher
education community and the federal government to facilitate research,
education, and services. The system provides accurate and timely
federal agency information to colleges, universities, and other
research organizations. There are no registration fees and no access
charges for FEDIX whatsoever.

FEDIX offers the Minority On-Line Information Service (MOLIS), a
database listing current information about Black and Hispanic colleges
and universities.

Daily information updates are made on federal education and research
programs, scholarships, fellowships, and grants, available used
research equipment, and general information about FEDIX itself.
To access the database, telnet to and log in as

Science & Technology Information System

The STIS is maintained by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and
provides access to many NSF publications. The full text of
publications can be searched online and copied from the system,
which can accommodate up to ten users at one time. Telnet to and log in as public. Everything on the system is also available
via anonymous FTP. For further information, contact:

STIS, Office of Information Systems, Room 401
National Science Foundation
1800 G. Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20550
[email protected]
(202) 357-7492
(202) 357-7663 (Fax)

Ocean Network Information Center

The University of Delaware College of Marine Studies offers access to
an interactive database of research information covering all aspects
of marine studies, nicknamed OCEANIC. This includes the World Oceanic
Circulation Experiment (WOCE) information and program information,
research ship schedules and information, and a Who's Who of email and
mailing addresses for oceanic studies. Data from a variety of
academic institutions based on research studies is also available.
Telnet to and log in as INFO.

NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED)

The NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) is an ongoing project,
funded by NASA, to make data and literature on extragalactic objects
available over computer networks. NED is an object-oriented database
which contains extensive information for nearly 132,000 extragalactic
objects taken from about major catalogs of galaxies, quasars, infrared
and radio sources. NED provides positions, names, and other basic
data (e.g. magnitude types, sizes and redshifts as well as
bibliographic references and abstracts). Searches can be done by
name, around a name, and on an astronomical position. NED contains
a tutorial which guides the user through the retrieval process.
Telnet to and log in as ned.

U.S. Naval Observatory Automated Data Service

Operated by the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., this
automated data service provides database access to information
ranging from current navigational satellite positioning, astronomical
data, and software utilities. A wide variety of databases can be
searched and instructions for file transfer are given. Telnet to and log in as ads.

``My consciousness suddenly switched locations, for the first time in
my life, from the vicinity of my head and body to a point about
twenty feet away from where I normally see the world.''
Howard Rheingold, Virtual Reality p255

Various Tools

New and interesting ways to use the Internet are being dreamed up
every day. As they gain wide-spread use, some methods become
near-standard (or actual written standard) tools for Internet users
to take advantage of. A few are detailed here; there are undoubtedly
others, and new ideas spring up all the time. An active user of
the Internet will discover most of the more common ones in time.
Usually, these services are free. Commercial Services for applications
that are commercially available over the Internet.

Usenet is often used to announce a new service or capability on
the Internet. In particular, the groups comp.archives and
comp.protocols.tcp-ip are good places to look. Information
will drift into other areas as word spreads. Usenet News for
information on reading news.


On many systems there exists the finger command, which yield
information about each user that's currently logged in. This
command also has extensions for use over the Internet, as well. Under
normal circumstances, the command is simply finger for a summary of who's
logged into the local system, or finger username for specific
information about a user. It's also possible to go one step further
and go onto the network. The general usage is

finger @hostname

To see who's currently logged in at Widener University, for
instance, use

% finger
Login Name TTY Idle When Where
brendan Brendan Kehoe p0 Fri 02:14 tattoo.cs.widene
sven Sven Heinicke p1 Fri 04:16 xyplex3.cs.widen

To find out about a certain user, they can be fingered specifically
(and need not be logged in):

% finger [email protected]
Login name: bart In real life: Bart Simpson
Directory: /home/springfield/bart Shell: /bin/underachiever
Affiliation: Brother of Lisa Home System:
Last login Thu May 23 12:14 (EDT) on ttyp6 from
No unread mail
Project: To become a "fluff" cartoon character.
Don't have a cow, man.

Please realize that some sites are very security conscious, and
need to restrict the information about their systems and users available
to the outside world. To that end, they often block finger requests from
outside sites---so don't be surprised if fingering a computer or
a user returns with Connection refused.

Internet Relay Chat

The Lamont View Server System
On in pub/gb.tar.Z.


The ping command allows the user to check if another system is
currently ``up'' and running. The general form of the command
is ping system. {The usage will, again, vary.}
For example,


will tell you if the main machine in Widener University's Computer
Science lab is currently online (we certainly hope so!).

Many implementations of ping also include an option to let you
see how fast a link is running (to give you some idea of the load
on the network). For example:

% ping -s
PING 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=251 time=66 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=251 time=45 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=251 time=46 ms
--- ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 3 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max = 45/52/66 ms

This case tells us that for it takes about 46
milliseconds for a packet to go from Widener to Swarthmore College
and back again. It also gives the average and worst-case speeds, and
any packet loss that may have occurred (e.g. because of network

While ping generally doesn't hurt network performance, you
shouldn't use it too often---usually once or twice will leave
you relatively sure of the other system's state.


Sometimes email is clumsy and difficult to manage when one really
needs to have an interactive conversation. The Internet provides
for that as well, in the form of talk. Two users can literally see
each other type across thousands of miles.

To talk with Bart Simpson at Widener, one would type


which would cause a message similar to the following to be
displayed on Bart's terminal:

Message from [email protected] at 21:45 ...
talk: connection requested by [email protected]
talk: respond with: talk [email protected]

Bart would, presumably, respond by typing talk [email protected].
They could then chat about whatever they wished, with instantaneous
response time, rather than the write-and-wait style of email. To
leave talk, on many systems one would type Ctrl-C (hold down
the Control key and press C). Check local documentation to be

There are two different versions of talk in common use today. The
first, dubbed ``old talk,'' is supported by a set of Unix systems
(most notably, those currently sold by Sun). The second, ntalk
(aka ``new talk''), is more of the standard. If, when attempting to
talk with another user, it responds with an error about protocol
families, odds are the incompatibilities between versions of talk
is the culprit. It's up to the system administrators of sites which
use the old talk to install ntalk for their users.

Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS)

The WHOIS Database

The main WHOIS database is run at the Network Information Center
(NIC). The whois command will let you search a database of every
registered domain (e.g. and of registered users. It's
primarily used by system postmasters or listowners to find the
Points of Contact for a site, to let them know of a problem or contact
them for one reason or another. You can also find out their postal
address. For example:

% whois
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) MIT.EDU
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT-DOM)

Note that there are two entries for; we'll go for the second.

% whois mit-dom
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT-DOM)
Cambridge, MA 02139

Domain Name: MIT.EDU

Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
Schiller, Jeffrey I. (JIS) [email protected]
(617) 253-8400

Record last updated on 22-Jun-88.

Domain servers in listed order:

To see this host record with registered users, repeat the command with
a star ('*') before the name; or, use '%' to show JUST the
registered users.

Much better! Now this information (sought, possibly, by a system
administrator) can be used to find out how to notify MIT of a security
issue or problem with connectivity.

Queries can be made for individuals as well; the following would
yield an entry for the author:

% whois brendan
Kehoe, Brendan (BK59) [email protected]
Widener University
Department of Computer Science
Kirkbride 219
P.O. Box 83 Widener University
Chester, PA 19013

Record last updated on 02-May-91.

Included is the author's name, his handle (a unique sequence of
letters and numbers), information on how to contact him, and the last time
the record was modified in any way.

Anyone can register with the whois database. People who are
administrative or technical contacts for domains are registered
automatically when their domain applications are processed. For
normal users, one must simply fill out a form from the NIC. FTP
to and get the file netinfo/user-template.txt. The
completed form should be mailed to [email protected].

Other Uses of WHOIS

Also, many educational sites run WHOIS servers of their own, to
offer information about people who may be currently on the staff or
attending the institution. To specify a WHOIS server, many
implementations include some sort of option or qualifier---in VMS
under MultiNet, it's /HOST, in Unix -h. To receive information about
using the Stanford server, one might use the command

whois -h help

A large list of systems offering WHOIS services is being maintained
by Matt Power of MIT ([email protected]). It is available via
anonymous FTP from, in the directory
pub/whois. The file is named whois-servers.list.

The systems available include, but are certainly not limited to,
Syracuse University (, New York University
(, the University of California at San Diego
(, and Stanford University (

``Fingers were made before forks.''
Jonathan Swift, Polite Conversation

Commercial Services

Many services can be accessed through the Internet. As time
progresses and more outlets for commercial activity appear,
once-restricted traffic (by the NSFnet Acceptable Use Policy) may
now flow freely. Now that there are other networks for that
information to travel on, businesses are making their move.

Internet Service Providers

Providers (AlterNet, PSI, etc)...

The Internet Resource Guide (IRG) contains a chapter on
computer time that's available for a fee. Rather than reproduce
it here, which would fast become out-of-date as well as triple the
size of this guide, it's suggested that the reader consult the IRG if
such services are of interest.

Electronic Journals

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) publishes a hard-copy
directory of electronic journals, newsletters, and scholarly
discussion lists. It is a compilation of entries for hundreds of

sts, dozens of journals and newsletters, and a many
``other'' titles, including newsletter-digests, into one reference
source. Each entry includes instructions on how to access the
referenced publication or list.

The documents are available electronically by sending the commands

get ejournl1 directry
get ejournl2 directry

to the server at [email protected].
Listservs for further instructions on using a listserv.

The directory, along with a compilation by Diane Kovacs called
Directories of Academic E-Mail Conferences, is available in
print and on diskette (DOS WordPerfect and MacWord) from:

Office of Scientific & Academic Publishing
Association of Research Libraries
1527 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
[email protected]
(202) 232--2466
(202) 462--7849 (Fax)

The ARL is a not-for-profit organization representing over one
hundred research libraries in the United States and Canada. The
publication is available to ARL members for $10 and to non-members
for $20 (add $5 postage per directory for foreign addresses).
Orders of six or more copies will receive a 10% discount; all orders must
be prepaid and sent to the ARL.

Commercial Databases

The American Institute of Physics maintains the Physics Information
Network. It contains the bibliographic SPIN and General Physics
Advanced Abstracts databases. Also available is access to bulletin
boards and several searchable lists (job notices, announcements, etc).

Telnet to; new users must log in as NEW
and give registration information.

Some of the databases accessible through WAIS (WAIS) are available for a fee.

Clarinet News

Clarinet's an electronic publishing network service that provides
professional news and information, including live UPI wireservice
news, in the Usenet file format.

Clarinet lets you read an ``electronic newspaper'' right on the local
system; you can get timely industry news, technology related
wirestories, syndicated columns and features, financial information,
stock quotes and more.

Clarinet's provided by using the Usenet message interchange format,
and is available via UUCP and other delivery protocols, including NNTP.

The main feature is ClariNews, an ``electronic newspaper,''
gathered live from the wire services of United Press International
(UPI). ClariNews articles are distributed in 100 newsgroups based on
their subject matter, and are keyworded for additional topics and the
geographical location of the story. ClariNews includes headlines,
industry news, box scores, network TV schedules, and more. The main
products of ClariNews are:

ClariNews General, the general news``paper'' with news,
sports, and features, averaging about 400 stories per day.

TechWire, special groups for stories on science,
technology, and industry stories around them.

ClariNews-Biz, business and financial stories.

Newsbytes, a daily computer industry newsmagazine.

Syndicated Columns, including Dave Barry (humor) and Mike Royko (opinion).

Full information on ClariNet, including subscription information,
is available from

Clarinet Communications Corp.
124 King St. North
Waterloo, Ontario N2J 2X8
(800) USE-NETS

or with anonymous FTP in the directory /Clarinet on (Anonymous FTP).

``Needless to say, Aristotle did not envisage modern finance.''
Frederick Copleston, S.J.
A History of Philosophy: Vol 1 Greece & Rome Part II, p95

Things You'll Hear About

There are certain things that you'll hear about shortly after you
start actively using the Internet. Most people assume that
everyone's familiar with them, and they require no additional explanation.
If only that were true!

This section addresses a few topics that are commonly encountered
and asked about as a new user explores Cyberspace. Some of them are
directly related to how the networks are run today; other points
are simply interesting to read about.

The Internet Worm

from a letter by Severo M. Ornstein, in ACM June 89 Vol32 No6
and the appeal notice

On November 2, 1988, Robert Morris, Jr., a graduate student in
Computer Science at Cornell, wrote an experimental, self-replicating,
self-propagating program called a worm and injected it into the Internet.
He chose to release it from MIT, to disguise the fact that the worm came
from Cornell. Morris soon discovered that the program was replicating
and reinfecting machines at a much faster rate than he had
anticipated---there was a bug. Ultimately, many machines at
locations around the country either crashed or became ``catatonic.''
When Morris realized what was happening, he contacted a friend at
Harvard to discuss a solution. Eventually, they sent an anonymous
message from Harvard over the network, instructing programmers how
to kill the worm and prevent reinfection. However, because the
network route was clogged, this message did not get through until it was
too late. Computers were affected at many sites, including
universities, military sites, and medical research facilities. The estimated
cost of dealing with the worm at each installation ranged from $200 to
more than $53,000. {Derived in part from a letter by Severo M.
Ornstein, in the Communications of the ACM, Vol 32 No 6, June 1989.}

The program took advantage of a hole in the debug mode of the Unix
sendmail program, which runs on a system and waits for other
systems to connect to it and give it email, and a hole in the finger daemon
fingerd, which serves finger requests (Finger). People at the
University of California at Berkeley and MIT had copies of the
program and were actively disassembling it (returning the program
back into its source form) to try to figure out how it worked.

Teams of programmers worked non-stop to come up with at least a
temporary fix, to prevent the continued spread of the worm. After
about twelve hours, the team at Berkeley came up with steps that
would help retard the spread of the virus. Another method was also
discovered at Purdue and widely published. The information didn't
get out as quickly as it could have, however, since so many sites
had completely disconnected themselves from the network.

After a few days, things slowly began to return to normalcy and
everyone wanted to know who had done it all. Morris was later
named in The New York Times as the author (though this hadn't yet been
officially proven, there was a substantial body of evidence
pointing to Morris).

Robert T. Morris was convicted of violating the computer Fraud and
Abuse Act (Title 18), and sentenced to three years of probation,
400 hours of community service, a fine of $10,050, and the costs of his
supervision. His appeal, filed in December, 1990, was rejected the
following March.

The Cuckoo's Egg

First in an article entitled ``Stalking the Wily Hacker,'' and
later in the book The Cuckoo's Egg, Clifford Stoll detailed his
experiences trying to track down someone breaking into a system at Lawrence
Berkeley Laboratory in California. {See the bibliography for full

A 75-cent discrepancy in the Lab's accounting records led Stoll on
a chase through California, Virginia, and Europe to end up in a small
apartment in Hannover, West Germany. Stoll dealt with many levels
of bureaucracy and red tape, and worked with the FBI, the CIA, and the
German Bundespost trying to track his hacker down.

The experiences of Stoll, and particularly his message in speaking
engagements, have all pointed out the dire need for communication
between parties on a network of networks. The only way everyone
can peacefully co-exist in Cyberspace is by ensuring rapid recognition
of any existing problems.


The indomitable need for humans to congregate and share their
common interests is also present in the computing world. User groups
exist around the world, where people share ideas and experiences.
Similarly, there are organizations which are one step ``above''
user groups; that is to say, they exist to encourage or promote an idea
or set of ideas, rather than support a specific computer or application
of computers.

The Association for Computing Machinery

The Association for Computing Machinery (the ACM) was founded in
1947, immediately after Eckert and Mauchly unveiled one of the
first electronic computers, the ENIAC, in 1946. Since then, the ACM has
grown by leaps and bounds, becoming one of the leading educational
and scientific societies in the computer industry.

The ACM's stated purposes are:

To advance the sciences and arts of information processing;

To promote the free interchange of information about the sciences
and arts of information processing both among specialists and among the public;

To develop and maintain the integrity and competence of individuals
engaged in the practices of the sciences and arts of information processing.

Membership in the ACM has grown from seventy-eight in September, 1947,
to over 77,000 today. There are local chapters around the world, and
many colleges and universities endorse student chapters. Lecturers
frequent these meetings, which tend to be one step above the normal
``user group'' gathering. A large variety of published material
is also available at discounted prices for members of the association.

The ACM has a number of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that
concentrate on a certain area of computing, ranging from graphics
to the Ada programming language to security. Each of the SIGs also
publishes its own newsletter. There is a Usenet group,,
for the discussion of ACM topics. Usenet News for more information on
reading news.

For more information and a membership application, write to:

Assocation for Computing Machinery
1515 Broadway
New York City, NY 10036
[email protected]
(212) 869-7440

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
from their letter to prospective members

The CPSR is an alliance of computer professionals concentrating on
certain areas of the impact of computer technology on society. It
traces its history to the fall of 1981, when several researchers
in Palo Alto, California, organized a lunch meeting to discuss their
shared concerns about the connection between computing and the
nuclear arms race. Out of that meeting and the discussions which
followed, CPSR was born, and has been active ever since. {This
section is part of the CPSR's letter to prospective members.}

The national CPSR program focuses on the following project areas:

Reliability and Risk This area reflects on the concern that
overreliance on computing technology can lead to unacceptable risks
to society. It includes, but isn't limited to, work in analyzing
military systems such as SDI.

Civil Liberties and Privacy This project is concerned with such
topics as the FBI National Crime Information Center, the growing
use of databases by both government and private industry, the right of
access to public information, extension of First Amendment rights
to electronic communication, and establishing legal protections for
privacy of computerized information.

Computers in the Workplace The CPSR Workplace Project has
concentrated its attention on the design of software for the
workplace, and particularly on the philosophy of ``participatory
design,'' in which software designers work together with users to
ensure that systems meet the actual needs of that workplace.

The 21st Century Project This is a coalition with other
professional organizations working towards redirecting national
research priorities from concentrating on military issues to
anticipating and dealing with future problems as science and
technology enter the next century.

For more information on the CPSR, contact them at:

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
P.O. Box 717
Palo Alto, CA 94302
[email protected]
(415) 322--3778
(415) 322--3798 (Fax)

The Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was established to help
civilize the ``electronic frontier''---the Cyberspacial medium
becoming ever-present in today's society; to make it truly useful
and beneficial not just to a technical elite, but to everyone; and to
do this in a way which is in keeping with the society's highest
traditions of the free and open flow of information and
communication. {This section was derived from eff.about, available
along with other material via anonymous FTP from}

The mission of the EFF is to engage in and support educational
activities which increase popular understanding of the
opportunities and challenges posed by developments in computing and

to develop among policy-makers a better understanding of the
issues underlying free and open telecommunications, and support the
creation of legal and structural approaches which will ease the
assimilation of these new technologies by society;

to raise public awareness about civil liberties issues arising from
the rapid advancement in the area of new computer-based
communications media and, where necessary, support litigation in
the public interest to preserve, protect, and extend First Amendment
rights within the realm of computing and telecommunications

to encourage and support the development of new tools which will
endow non-technical users with full and easy access to
computer-based telecommunications;

The Usenet newsgroups and are
dedicated to discussion concerning the EFF. They also have mailing
list counterparts for those that don't have access to Usenet,
e[email protected] and [email protected]. The first
is an informal arena (aka a normal newsgroup) where anyone may voice
his or her opinions. The second,, is a moderated
area for regular postings from the EFF in the form of EFFector Online.
To submit a posting for the EFFector Online, or to get general
information about the EFF, write to [email protected]. There is also a
wealth of information available via anonymous FTP on

The EFF can be contacted at

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Inc.
155 Second St. #1
Cambridge, MA 02141
[email protected]
(617) 864-0665
(617) 864-0866 (Fax)

The Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation was started by Richard Stallman
(creator of the popular GNU Emacs editor). It is dedicated to eliminating
restrictions on copying, redistributing, and modifying software.

The word ``free'' in their name does not refer to price; it refers
to freedom. First, the freedom to copy a program and redistribute it
to your neighbors, so that they can use it as well as you. Second,
the freedom to change a program, so that you can control it instead of
it controlling you; for this, the source code must be made available
to you.

The Foundation works to provide these freedoms by developing free
compatible replacements for proprietary software. Specifically,
they are putting together a complete, integrated software system called
``GNU'' that is upward-compatible with Unix. {As an aside, the
editor of the GNU project, emacs, contains a built-in LISP interpreter and
a large part of its functionality is written in LISP. The name GNU
is itself recursive (the mainstay of the LISP language); it stands for
``Gnu's Not Unix.''}

When it is released, everyone will be permitted to copy it and
distribute it to others. In addition, it will be distributed with
source code, so you will be able to learn about operating systems
by reading it, to port it to your own machine, and to exchange the
changes with others.

For more information on the Free Software Foundation and the status
of the GNU Project, or for a list of the current tasks that still need
to be done, write to [email protected].


Need IEEE...

The League for Programming Freedom

The League for Programming Freedom is a grass-roots organization
of professors, students, businessmen, programmers and users dedicated
to ``bringing back'' the freedom to write programs, which they contend
has been lost over the past number years. The League is not
opposed to the legal system that Congress intended--copyright on individual
programs. Their aim is to reverse the recent changes made by judges
in response to special interests, often explicitly rejecting the
public interest principles of the Constitution.

The League works to abolish the new monopolies by publishing
articles, talking with public officials, boycotting egregious offenders, and
in the future may intervene in court cases. On May 24, 1989, the
League picketed Lotus headquarters because of their lawsuits, and then
again on August 2, 1990. These marches stimulated widespread media
coverage for the issue. They welcome suggestions for other
activities, as well as help in carrying them out.

For information on the League and how to join, write to

League for Programming Freedom
1 Kendall Square #143
P.O. Box 9171
Cambridge, MA 02139
[email protected]

Networking Initiatives

Research and development are two buzz words often heard when
discussing the networking field---everything needs to go faster,
over longer distances, for a lower cost. To ``keep current,'' one
should read the various trade magazines and newspapers, or frequent the
networking-oriented newsgroups of Usenet. If possible, attend
trade shows and symposia like Usenix, Interop, et. al.



The National Research and Education Network (NREN) is a five-year
project approved by Congress in the Fall of 1991. It's intended
to create a national electronic ``super-highway.'' The NREN will be
50 times faster than the fastest available networks (at the time of
this writing). Proponents of the NREN claim it will be possible to
transfer the equivalent of the entire text of the Encyclopedia
Britannica in one second. Further information, including the
original text of the bill presented by Senator Al Gore (D--TN), is
available through anonymous FTP to, in the directory
nsfnet. In addition, Vint Cerf wrote on the then-proposed NREN in
RFC-1167, Thoughts on the National Research and Education Network.
RFCs for information on obtaining RFCs.

A mailing list, [email protected], is available for
discussion of the NREN; write to
[email protected] to be added.

``To talk in publick, to think in solitude,
to read and to hear, to inquire, and to answer inquiries,
is the business of a scholar.''
Samuel Johnson
Chapter VIII
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

Finding Out More

Internet Resource Guide

The NSF Network Service Center (NNSC) compiles and makes available
an Internet Resource Guide (IRG). The goal of the guide is to
increase the visibility of various Internet resources that may help
users do their work better. While not yet an exhaustive list, the
guide is a useful compendium of many resources and can be a helpful
reference for a new user.

Resources listed are grouped by types into sections. Current
sections include descriptions of online library catalogs, data archives,
online white pages directory services, networks, network information
centers, and computational resources, such as supercomputers. Each entry
describes the resource, identifies who can use the resource, explains
how to reach the local network via the Internet, and lists contacts
for more information. The list is distributed electronically by the
NNSC. To receive a guide, or to get on a mailing list that alerts you
to when it is updated, send a message to [email protected].

The current edition of the IRG is available via anonymous FTP from, in the directory /resource-guide.

Requests for Comments

The internal workings of the Internet are defined by a set of
documents called RFCs (Request for Comments). The general process
for creating an RFC is for someone wanting something formalized to
write a document describing the issue and mailing it to Jon Postel
([email protected]). He acts as a referee for the proposal. It is
then commented upon by all those wishing to take part in the discussion
(electronically, of course). It may go through multiple revisions.
Should it be generally accepted as a good idea, it will be assigned
a number and filed with the RFCs.

The RFCs can be divided into five groups: required, suggested,
directional, informational and obsolete. Required RFCs (e.g.,
RFC-791, The Internet Protocol) must be implemented on any host
connected to the Internet.

Suggested RFCs are generally implemented by network hosts. Lack
of them does not preclude access to the Internet, but may impact its
usability. RFC-793, Transmission Control Protocol, is a must for
those implementing TCP.

Directional RFCs were discussed and agreed to, but their
application has never come into wide use. This may be due to the
lack of wide need for the specific application (RFC-937, The Post Office
Protocol) or that, although technically superior, ran against other pervasive
approaches (RFC-891, Hello). It is suggested that, should the
facility be required by a particular site, an implementation be done in
accordance with the RFC. This ensures that, should the idea be one
whose time has come, the implementation will be in accordance with
some standard and will be generally usable.

Informational RFCs contain factual information about the Internet
and its operation (RFC-990, Assigned Numbers).

There is also a subset of RFCs called FYIs (For Your Information).
They are written in a language much more informal than that used
in the other, standard RFCs. Topics range from answers to common
questions for new and experienced users to a suggested bibliography.

Finally, as the Internet has grown and technology has changed, some
RFCs become unnecessary. These obsolete RFCs cannot be ignored,
however. Frequently when a change is made to some RFC that causes a
new one to obsolete others, the new RFC only contains explanations and
motivations for the change. Understanding the model on which the
whole facility is based may involve reading the original and
subsequent RFCs on the topic.

RFCs and FYIs are available via FTP from many sources, including:

The archive, as /rfc/rfc-xxxx.txt, where
xxxx is the number of the RFC.

from, in the directory /RFC.

They're also available through mail by writing to
[email protected], with a Subject: line of send RFC-xxxx.TXT,
again with xxxx being the RFC number.

``Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we
know where we can find information upon it.''
Samuel Johnson
Letter to Lord Chesterfield
February, 1755
a book of quotes said April 18, 1775 .. the book of Johnson's works
said it's 1755; I'll go with the latter.


This guide is far from complete---the Internet changes on a daily
(if not hourly) basis. However, this booklet should provide enough
information to make the incredible breadth and complexity of the
Internet a mite less imposing. Coupled with some exploration and
experimentation, every user has the potential to be a competent net
citizen, using the facilities that are available to their fullest.

You, the reader, are strongly encouraged to suggest improvements
to any part of this booklet. If something was unclear, left you with
doubts, or wasn't addressed, it should be fixed. If you find any
problems, inaccuracies, spelling errors, etc., please report them

Brendan Kehoe
Department of Computer Science
Widener University
Chester, PA 19013

Internet: [email protected]
UUCP: ...!widener!guide-bugs

If you are interested in future updates to this guide (aside from
normal new editions), discussion about information to be included
or removed, etc., write to [email protected] to be placed
on a mailing list for such things.

@dots is actually `. . . .'
``I've seed de first an de last @dots I seed de beginnin,
en now I sees de endin.''
William Faulkner
The Sound & The Fury
April 8, 1928


Getting to Other Networks

Inter-connectivity has been and always will be one of the biggest
goals in computer networking. The ultimate desire is to make it
so one person can contact anyone else no matter where they are. A
number of ``gateways'' between networks have been set up. They include:

Quantum Services sells access to AppleLink, which is similar to
QuantumLink for Commodore computers and PCLink for IBM PCs and
compatibles. It also provides email access through the address
[email protected].

AT&T sells a commercial email service called ATTMail. Its users
can be reached by writing to [email protected].

Users on BIX (the Byte Information eXchange) can be reached
through the DAS gateway at [email protected].

CompuServe (CI$)
To reach a user on the commercial service CompuServe, you must
address the mail as [email protected], with being their CompuServe user ID. Normally CompuServe
ids are represented as being separated by a comma (like
71999,141); since most mailers don't react well to having
commas in addresses, it was changed to a period. For the above
address, mail would be sent to [email protected].

Digital sells a service called EasyNet; users that subscribe to it
can be reached with the addresses [email protected] or
user%[email protected].

The FidoNet computer network can be reached by using a special
addressing method. If John Smith is on the node 1:2/3.4 on
FidoNet, his or her email address would be
[email protected]
(notice how the numbers fall in place?).

MCI Mail
MCI also sells email accounts (similar to ATTMail). Users can be
reached with [email protected].

Users on the PeaceNet network can be reached by writing to [email protected].

The Well
Users on the service The Well can be reached by writing to The Well is directly connected to the Internet.

This table is far from complete. In addition to sites not being
listed, some services are not (nor do they plan to be) accessible
from the ``outside'' (like Prodigy); others, like GEnie, are
actively investigating the possibility of creating a gateway into their
system. For the latest information, consult a list called the
Inter-Network Mail Guide. It's available from a number of FTP
sites, including UUNET; Anonymous FTP, for more information on getting a
copy of it using anonymous FTP.

Retrieving Files via Email

For those who have a connection to the Internet, but cannot FTP,
there do exist a few alternatives to get those files you so desperately
need. When requesting files, it's imperative that you keep in mind
the size of your request---odds are the other people who may be
using your link won't be too receptive to sudden bursts of really heavy
traffic on their normally sedate connection.

Archive Servers

An alternative to the currently well over-used FTPmail system is
taking advantage of the many archive servers that are presently
being maintained. These are programs that receive email messages
that contain commands, and act on them. For example, sending an archive
server the command help will usually yield, in the form of a
piece of email, information on how to use the various commands that
the server has available.

One such archive server is [email protected]. Maintained by
the Network Information Center (NIC) in Chantilly, VA, the server
is set up to make all of the information at the NIC available for
people who don't have access to FTP. This also includes the WHOIS service
(Whois). Some sample Subject: lines for queries to the
NIC server are:

Subject: help Describes available
Subject: rfc 822 Sends a copy of RFC-822.
Subject: rfc index Sends an index of the
available RFCs.
Subject: netinfo domain-template.txt Sends a domain application.
Subject: whois widener Sends WHOIS information on

More information on using their archive server can be obtained by
writing to their server address [email protected] with a
Subject: of help.

There are different ``brands'' of archive server, each with its own
set of commands and services. Among them there often exists a
common set of commands and services (e.g. index, help, etc).
Be that as it may, one should always consult the individual help
for a specific server before assuming the syntax---100K surprises can be
hard on a system.

FTP-by-Mail Servers
Some systems offer people the ability to receive files through a
mock-FTP interface via email. Anonymous FTP for a general overview
of how to FTP. The effects of providing such a service varies,
although a rule of thumb is that it will probably use a substantial amount
of the available resources on a system.

The ``original'' FTP-by-Mail service, BITFTP, is available to
BITNET users from the Princeton node PUCC. It was once accessible to
anyone, but had to be closed out to non-BITNET users because of the
heavy load on the system.

In response to this closure, Paul Vixie designed and installed a
system called FTPmail on one of Digital's gateway computers, Write to [email protected] with help in the
body of the letter for instructions on its use. The software is
undergoing constant development; once it reaches a stable state,
other sites will be encouraged to adopt it and provide the service

Newsgroup Creation

Everyone has the opportunity to make a Call For Votes on the
Usenet and attempt to create a newsgroup that he/she feels would
be of benefit to the general readership. The rules governing newsgroup
creation have evolved over the years into a generally accepted
method. They only govern the ``world'' groups; they aren't applicable to
regional or other alternative hierarchies.


A discussion must first take place to address issues like the
naming of the group, where in the group tree it should go (e.g.
rec.sports.koosh vs, and whether or not it should
be created in the first place. The formal Request For Discussion
(RFD) should be posted to news.announce.newgroups, along with any
other groups or mailing lists at all related to the proposed topic.
news.announce.newgroups is moderated. You should place it first in
the Newsgroups: header, so that it will get mailed to the moderator
only. The article won't be immediately posted to the other
newsgroups listed; rather, it will give you the opportunity to have
the moderator correct any inconsistencies or mistakes in your RFD.
He or she will take care of posting it to the newsgroups you
indicated. Also the Followup-To: header will be set so that the
actual discussion takes place only in news.groups. If a user has
difficulty posting to a moderated group, he or she may mail
submissions intended for news.announce.newgroups to the address
[email protected].

The final name and charter of the group, and whether it will be
moderated or unmoderated, will be determined during the discussion
period. If it's to be moderated, the discussion will also decide
who the moderator will be. If there's no general agreement on these
points among those in favor of a new group at the end of 30 days,
the discussion will be taken into mail rather than continued
posting to news.groups; that way, the proponents of the group can iron out
their differences and come back with a proper proposal, and make
a new Request For Discussion.

After the discussion period (which is mandatory), if it's been
determined that a new group really is desired, a name and charter
are agreed upon, and it's been determined whether the group will be
moderated (and by whom), a Call For Votes (CFV) should be posted
to news.announce.newgroups, along with any other groups that
the original Request For Discussion was posted to. The CFV should
be posted (or mailed to the news.announce.newgroups moderator) as
soon as possible after the discussion ends (to keep it fresh in
everyone's mind).

The Call for Votes should include clear instructions on how to cast
a vote. It's important that it be clearly explained how to both vote
for and against a group (and be of equivalent difficulty or
ease). If it's easier for you or your administrator, two separate
addresses can be used to mail yes and no votes to, providing that
they're on the same machine. Regardless of the method, everyone
must have a very specific idea of how to get his/her vote counted.

The voting period can last between 21 and 31 days, no matter what the
preliminary results of the vote are. A vote can't be called off
simply because 400 ``no'' votes have come in and only two ``yes''
votes. The Call for Votes should include the exact date that the
voting period will end---only those votes arriving on the vote-taker's
machine before this date can be counted.

To keep awareness high, the CFV can be repeated during the vote,
provided that it gives the same clear, unbiased instructions for
casting a vote as the original; it also has to be the same proposal as
was first posted. The charter can't change in mid-vote. Also,
votes that're posted don't count---only those that were mailed to the
vote-taker can be tallied.

Partial results should never be included; only a statement of
the specific proposal, that a vote is in progress on it, and how
to cast a vote. A mass acknowledgement (``Mass ACK'' or ``Vote ACK'')
is permitted; however, it must be presented in a way that gives no
indication of which way a person voted. One way to avoid this is
to create one large list of everyone who's voted, and sort it in
alphabetical order. It should not be two sorted lists (of the yes
and no votes, respectively).

Every vote is autonomous. The votes for or against one group can't
be transferred to another, similar proposal. A vote can only count
for the exact proposal that it was a response to. In particular, a
vote for or against a newsgroup under one name can't be counted as a
vote for or against another group with a different name or charter, a
different moderated/unmoderated status, or, if it's moderated, a
different moderator or set of moderators. Whew!

Finally, the vote has to be explicit; they should be of the form
I vote for the group as proposed or I vote against the group as proposed. The wording doesn't have to be exact, your
intention just has to be clear.

The Result of a Vote

At the end of the voting period, the vote-taker has to post (to
news.announce.newgroups) the tally and email addresses of the votes
received. Again, it can also be posted to any of the groups listed
in the original CFV. The tally should make clear which way a person
voted, so the results can be verified if it proves necessary to do

After the vote result is posted to news.announce.newgroups,
there is a mandatory five-day waiting period. This affords
everyone the opportunity to correct any errors or inconsistencies in the
voter list or the voting procedure.

Creation of the Group

If, after the waiting period, there are no serious objections that
might invalidate the vote, the vote is put to the ``water test.''
If there were 100 more valid YES/create votes than NO/don't create
votes, and at least two-thirds of the total number of votes are in
favor of creation, then a newgroup control message can be sent out
(often by the moderator of news.announce.newgroups). If the
100-vote margin or the two-thirds percentage isn't met, the group has failed
and can't be created.

If the proposal failed, all is not lost---after a six-month waiting
period (a ``cooling down''), a new Request For Discussion can be
posted to news.groups, and the whole process can start over again. If
after a couple of tries it becomes obvious that the group is not
wanted or needed, the vote-taker should humbly step back and accept
the opinion of the majority. (As life goes, so goes Usenet.)



This glossary is only a tiny subset of all of the various terms and
other things that people regularly use on The Net. For a more
complete (and very entertaining) reference, it's suggested you get
a copy of The New Hacker's Dictionary, which is based on a VERY large
text file called the Jargon File. Edited by Eric Raymond
([email protected]), it is available from the MIT Press,
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02142; its ISBN number is 0-262-68069-6.
Also see RFC-1208, A Glossary of Networking Terms.

This odd symbol is one of the ways a person can portray ``mood''
in the very flat medium of computers---by using ``smilies.'' This is
`metacommunication', and there are literally hundreds of them, from
the obvious to the obscure. This particular example expresses
``happiness.'' Don't see it? Tilt your head to the left 90
degrees. Smilies are also used to denote sarcasm.

Network addresses are usually of two types:

the physical or hardware address of a network interface card; for
ethernet this 48-bit address might be 0260.8C00.7666. The hardware
address is used to forward packets within a physical network.
Fortunately, network users do not have to be concerned about
hardware addresses since they are automatically handled by the networking

The logical or Internet address is used to facilitate moving data
between physical networks. The 32-bit Internet address is made up
of a network number, a subnetwork number, and a host number. Each
host computer on the Internet, has a unique address. For example, all
Internet addresses at Colorado State have a network number of
129.82, a subnet number in the range of 1-254, and a host number
in the range of 1-254. All Internet hosts have a numeric address and an
English-style name. For example, the Internet address for UCC's
CYBER 840 is; its Internet name is csugreen.UCC.ColoState.EDU.

address resolution
Conversion of an Internet address to the corresponding physical
address. On an ethernet, resolution requires broadcasting on the local area

Administrative tasks, most often related to the maintenance of
mailing lists, digests, news gateways, etc.

anonymous FTP
Also known as ``anon FTP''; a service provided to make files
available to the general Internet community---Anonymous FTP.

The American National Standards Institute disseminates basic
standards like ASCII, and acts as the United States' delegate to the ISO.
Standards can be ordered from ANSI by writing to the ANSI Sales
Department, 1430 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, or by telephoning (212)

A service which provides lookups for packages in a database of the
offerings of countless of anonymous FTP sites. archie for a
full description.

archive server
An email-based file transfer facility offered by some systems.

ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency)
Former name of DARPA, the government agency that funded ARPAnet and
later the DARPA Internet.

A pioneering long haul network funded by ARPA. It
served as the basis for early networking research as well as a
central backbone during the development of the Internet. The
ARPAnet consisted of individual packet switching computers
interconnected by leased lines. The ARPAnet no longer exists as
a singular entity.

Transmission by individual bytes, not related to specific timing
on the transmitting end.

Something which happens pseudo-automatically, and is usually too
complex to go into any further than to say it happens ``auto-magically.''

A high-speed connection within a network that connects shorter,
usually slower circuits. Also used in reference to a system that
acts as a ``hub'' for activity (although those are becoming much less
prevalent now than they were ten years ago).

The capacity of a medium to transmit a signal. More informally,
the mythical ``size'' of The Net, and its ability to carry the files
and messages of those that use it. Some view certain kinds of traffic
(FTPing hundreds of graphics images, for example) as a ``waste of
bandwidth'' and look down upon them.

BITNET (Because It's Time Network)
An NJE-based international educational network.

The return of a piece of mail because of an error in its delivery.

An abbreviation for ``by the way.''

CFV (Call For Votes)
Initiates the voting period for a Usenet newsgroup. At least one
(occasionally two or more) email address is customarily included
as a repository for the votes. See Newsgroup Creation
for a full description of the Usenet voting process.

The fee-based Usenet newsfeed available from ClariNet

The user of a network service; also used to describe a computer
that relies upon another for some or all of its resources.

A term coined by William Gibson in his fantasy novel
Neuromancer to describe the ``world'' of computers, and the
society that gathers around them.

The basic unit of information passed across the Internet. It
contains a source and destination address along with data. Large messages
are broken down into a sequence of IP datagrams.

Converting a binary program into human-readable machine language

DNS (Domain Name System)
The method used to convert Internet names to their corresponding
Internet numbers.

A part of the naming hierarchy. Syntactically, a domain name
consists of a sequence of names or other words separated by dots.

dotted quad
A set of four numbers connected with periods that make up an
Internet address; for example,

The vernacular abbreviation for electronic mail.

email address
The UUCP or domain-based address that a user is referred to with.
For example, the author's address is [email protected].

A 10-million bit per second networking scheme originally developed
by Xerox Corporation. Ethernet is widely used for LANs because it can
network a wide variety of computers, it is not proprietary, and
components are widely available from many commercial sources.

FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface)
An emerging standard for network technology based on fiber optics
that has been established by ANSI. FDDI specifies a 100-million bit per
second data rate. The access control mechanism uses token ring

A piece of mail or a Usenet posting which is violently

FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name)
The FQDN is the full site name of a system, rather than just its
hostname. For example, the system lisa at Widener University
has a FQDN of

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
The Internet standard high-level protocol for transferring files
from one computer to another.

An abbreviation for the phrase ``for your information.'' There is
also a series of RFCs put out by the Network Information Center
called FYIs; they address common questions of new users and many other
useful things. RFCs for instructions on retrieving FYIs.

A special-purpose dedicated computer that attaches to two or more
networks and routes packets from one network to the other. In
particular, an Internet gateway routes IP datagrams among the
networks it connects. Gateways route packets to other gateways until they
can be delivered to the final destination directly across one physical

The portion of a packet, preceding the actual data, containing
source and destination addresses and error-checking fields. Also part of
a message or news article.

The name given to a machine. (See also FQDN.)

IMHO (In My Humble Opinion)
This usually accompanies a statement that may bring about personal
offense or strong disagreement.

A concatenation of many individual TCP/IP campus, state, regional,
and national networks (such as NSFnet, ARPAnet, and Milnet) into one
single logical network all sharing a common addressing scheme.

Internet number
The dotted-quad address used to specify a certain system. The
Internet number for the site is A
resolver is used to translate between hostnames and Internet

The ability of multi-vendor computers to work together using a
common set of protocols. With interoperability, PCs, Macs, Suns, Dec
VAXen, CDC Cybers, etc, all work together allowing one host computer to
communicate with and take advantage of the resources of another.

ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
Coordinator of the main networking standards that are put into use today.

The level of an operating system or networking system that contains
the system-level commands or all of the functions hidden from the user.
In a Unix system, the kernel is a program that contains the device
drivers, the memory management routines, the scheduler, and system calls.
This program is always running while the system is operating.

LAN (Local Area Network)
Any physical network technology that operates at high speed over
short distances (up to a few thousand meters).

mail gateway
A machine that connects to two or more electronic mail systems
(especially dissimilar mail systems on two different networks) and
transfers mail messages among them.

mailing list
A possibly moderated discussion group, distributed via email from
a central computer maintaining the list of people involved in the

mail path
A series of machine names used to direct electronic mail from one
user to another.

The material used to support the transmission of data. This can
be copper wire, coaxial cable, optical fiber, or electromagnetic wave
(as in microwave).

The division of a single transmission medium into multiple logical
channels supporting many simultaneous sessions. For example, one
network may have simultaneous FTP, telnet, rlogin, and SMTP
connections, all going at the same time.

An inhabitant of Cyberspace. One usually tries to be a good
net.citizen, lest one be flamed.

A pun on ``etiquette''; proper behavior on The Net. Usenet

A group of machines connected together so they can transmit
information to one another. There are two kinds of networks: local networks
and remote networks.

NFS (Network File System)
A method developed by Sun Microsystems to allow computers to share
files across a network in a way that makes them appear as if
they're ``local'' to the system.

The Network Information Center.

A computer that is attached to a network; also called a host.

The national backbone network, funded by the National Science
Foundation and operated by the Merit Corporation, used to interconnect
regional (mid-level) networks such as WestNet to one another.

The unit of data sent across a packet switching network. The term
is used loosely. While some Internet literature uses it to refer
specifically to data sent across a physical network, other
literature views the Internet as a packet switching network and describes
IP datagrams as packets.

Connecting to another system to check for things like mail or news.

The person responsible for taking care of mail problems, answering
queries about users, and other related work at a site.

A formal description of message formats and the rules two computers
must follow to exchange those messages. Protocols can describe
low-level details of machine-to-machine interfaces (e.g., the order in which
bits and bytes are sent across a wire) or high-level exchanges between
allocation programs (e.g., the way in which two programs transfer
a file across the Internet).

The facility of a programming language to be able to call functions
from within themselves.

Translate an Internet name into its equivalent IP address or other
DNS information.

RFD (Request For Discussion)
Usually a two- to three-week period in which the particulars of
newsgroup creation are battled out.

The path that network traffic takes from its source to its

A dedicated computer (or other device) that sends packets from one
place to another, paying attention to the current state of the

RTFM (Read The Fantastic Manual).
This anacronym is often used when someone asks a simple or common
question. The word `Fantastic' is usually replaced with one much
more vulgar.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)
The Internet standard protocol for transferring electronic mail
messages from one computer to another. SMTP specifies how two mail systems
interact and the format of control messages they exchange to
transfer mail.

A computer that shares its resources, such as printers and files,
with other computers on the network. An example of this is a Network
File System (NFS) server which shares its disk space with other

signal-to-noise ratio
When used in reference to Usenet activity, signal-to-noise
ratio describes the relation between amount of actual information
in a discussion, compared to their quantity. More often than not,
there's substantial activity in a newsgroup, but a very small
number of those articles actually contain anything useful.

The small, usually four-line message at the bottom of a piece of
email or a Usenet article. In Unix, it's added by creating a file
..signature in the user's home directory. Large signatures are
a no-no.

To encapsulate a number of responses into one coherent, usable
message. Often done on controlled mailing lists or active
newsgroups, to help reduce bandwidth.

Data communications in which transmissions are sent at a fixed
rate, with the sending and receiving devices synchronized.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)
A set of protocols, resulting from ARPA efforts, used by the
Internet to support services such as remote login (telnet), file transfer
(FTP) and mail (SMTP).

The Internet standard protocol for remote terminal connection
service. Telnet allows a user at one site to interact with a remote
timesharing system at another site as if the user's terminal were
connected directly to the remote computer.

terminal server
A small, specialized, networked computer that connects many
terminals to a LAN through one network connection. Any user on the
network can then connect to various network hosts.

A free typesetting system by Donald Knuth.

twisted pair
Cable made up of a pair of insulated copper wires wrapped around
each other to cancel the effects of electrical noise.

UUCP (Unix to Unix Copy Program)
A store-and-forward system, primarily for Unix systems but
currently supported on other platforms (e.g. VMS and personal computers).

WAN (Wide-Area Network)
A network spanning hundreds or thousands of miles.

A networked personal computing device with more power than a
standard IBM PC or Macintosh. Typically, a workstation has an operating
system such as unix that is capable of running several tasks at the same
time. It has several megabytes of memory and a large, high-resolution
display. Examples are Sun workstations and Digital DECstations.

A computer program which replicates itself. The Internet worm
(The Internet Worm) was perhaps the most famous; it successfully
(and accidentally) duplicated itself on systems across the Internet.

With respect to.

``I hate definitions.''
Benjamin Disraeli
Vivian Grey, bk i chap ii


What follows is a compendium of sources that have information that
will be of use to anyone reading this guide. Most of them were
used in the writing of the booklet, while others are simply noted
because they are a must for any good net.citizen's bookshelf.


Comer, Douglas E.
Internetworking With TCP/IP, 2nd ed., 2v
Prentice Hall
Englewood Cliffs, NJ

Davidson, John
An Introduction to TCP/IP

Frey, Donnalyn, and Adams, Rick
!@%:: A Directory of Electronic Mail Addressing and Networks
O'Reilly and Associates
Newton, MA

Gibson, William
New York, NY

LaQuey, Tracy
Users' Directory of Computer Networks
Digital Press
Bedford, MA

Levy, Stephen
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
Anchor Press/Doubleday
Garden City, NY

Partridge, Craig
Innovations in Internetworking
Norwood, MA

Quarterman, John S.
The Matrix: Computer Networks and Conferencing Systems Worldwide
Digital Press
Bedford, MA

Raymond, Eric (ed)
The New Hacker's Dictionary
MIT Press
Cambridge, MA

Stoll, Clifford
The Cuckoo's Egg
New York

Tanenbaum, Andrew S.
Computer Networks, 2d ed
Englewood Cliffs, NJ

Todinao, Grace
Using UUCP and USENET: A Nutshell Handbook
O'Reilly and Associates
Newton, MA

The Waite Group
Unix Communications, 2nd ed.
Howard W. Sams & Company

Periodicals & Papers
magazine: Barlow, J
Coming Into The Country
Communications of the ACM 34:3
March 1991
Addresses ``Cyberspace''---John Barlow was a co-founder of the EFF.

proceedings: Collyer, G., and Spencer, H
News Need Not Be Slow
Proceedings of the 1987 Winter USENIX Conference
USENIX Association, Berkeley, CA
January 1987

magazine: Denning, P
The Internet Worm
American Scientist
March--April 1989

magazine: The Science of Computing: Computer Networks
American Scientist
March--April 1985

magazine: Frey, D., and Adams, R
USENET: Death by Success?
August 1987

magazine: Gifford, W. S
ISDN User-Network Interfaces
IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications
May 1986

magazine: Ginsberg, K
Getting from Here to There
January 1986

magazine: Hiltz, S. R
The Human Element in Computerized Conferencing Systems
Computer Networks
December 1978

proceedings: Horton, M
What is a Domain?
Proceedings of the Summer 1984 USENIX Conference
USENIX Association, Berkeley, CA
June 1984

magazine: Jacobsen, Ole J
Information on TCP/IP
ConneXions---The Interoperability Report
July 1988

magazine: Jennings, D., et al
Computer Networking for Scientists
28 February 1986

paper: Markoff, J
``Author of computer `virus' is son of U.S. electronic security expert.''
New York Times
Nov. 5, 1988

paper: ``Computer snarl: A `back door' ajar.''
New York Times
Nov. 7, 1988

magazine: McQuillan, J. M., and Walden, D. C
The ARPA Network Design Decisions
Computer Networks

magazine: Ornstein, S. M
A letter concerning the Internet worm
Communications of the ACM 32:6
June 1989

proceedings: Partridge, C
Mail Routing Using Domain Names: An Informal Tour
Proceedings of the 1986 Summer USENIX Conference
USENIX Association, Berkeley, CA
June 1986

magazine: Quarterman, J
Etiquette and Ethics
ConneXions---The Interoperability Report
March 1989

magazine: Notable Computer Networks
Communications of the ACM 29:10
October 1986
This was the predecessor to The Matrix.

magazine: Raeder, A. W., and Andrews, K. L
Searching Library Catalogs on the Internet: A Survey
Database Searcher 6
September 1990

proceedings: Seeley, D
A tour of the worm
Proceedings of the 1989 Winter USENIX Conference
USENIX Association, Berkeley, CA
February 1989

magazine: Shulman, G
Legal Research on USENET Liability Issues
;login: The USENIX Association Newsletter
December 1984

magazine: Smith, K
E-Mail to Anywhere
PC World
March 1988

magazine: Stoll, C
Stalking the Wily Hacker
Communications of the ACM 31:5
May 1988
This article grew into the book The Cuckoo's Egg.

proceedings: Taylor, D
The Postman Always Rings Twice: Electronic Mail in a Highly Distributed
Proceedings of the 1988 Winter USENIX Conference
USENIX Association, Berkeley, CA
December 1988

magazine: U.S.Gen'l Accounting Ofc
Computer Security: Virus Highlights Need for Improved Internet Management
Addresses the Internet worm.

``And all else is literature.''
Paul Verlaine
The Sun, New York
While he was city editor in 1873--1890.

Bill Walther, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Information on TCP/IP

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