7.1 Tons of Files
Big Dummy's Guide to the Internet

Go to Table of Contents. Visit Gifcom.

     Hundreds of systems connected to Internet have file libraries, or
archives, accessible to the public. Much of this consists of free or low-
cost shareware programs for virtually every make of computer.  If you
want a different communications program for your IBM, or feel like
playing a new game on your Amiga, you'll be able to get it from the Net.
     But there are also libraries of documents as well.  If you
want a copy of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, you can find it on
the Net.  Copies of historical documents, from the Magna Carta to the
Declaration of Independence are also yours for the asking, along with a
translation of a telegram from Lenin ordering the execution of
rebellious peasants.  You can also find song lyrics, poems, even
summaries of every "Lost in Space" episode ever made.  You can also find
extensive files detailing everything you could ever possibly want to know
about the Net itself.  First you'll see how to get these files; then
we'll show you where they're kept.
     The commonest way to get these files is through the file transfer
protocol, or ftp.  As with telnet, not all systems that connect to the
Net have access to ftp.  However, if your system is one of these, you'll
be able to get many of these files through e-mail (see the next chapter).
     Starting ftp is as easy as using telnet. At your host system's command
line, type
 
          ftp site.name
 
and hit enter, where "site.name" is the address of the ftp site you want
to reach.  One major difference between telnet and ftp is that it is
considered bad form to connect to most ftp sites during their business
hours (generally 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time).  This is because
transferring files across the network takes up considerable computing
power, which during the day is likely to be needed for whatever the
computer's main function is.  There are some ftp sites that are
accessible to the public 24 hours a day, though.  You'll find these noted
in the list of ftp sites in section 7.6