TNFTP(1) BSD General Commands Manual TNFTP(1)
tnftp — Internet file transfer program
tnftp [-46AadefginpRtVv?] [-N netrc] [-o output] [-P port] [-q quittime]
[-r retry] [-s srcaddr] [-T dir,max[,inc]] [-x xfersize]
[[user@]host [port]] [[user@]host:[path][/]] [file:///path]
tnftp -u url file ...
tnftp is the user interface to the Internet standard File Transfer Proto‐
col. The program allows a user to transfer files to and from a remote
The last five arguments will fetch a file using the FTP or HTTP proto‐
cols, or by direct copying, into the current directory. This is ideal
for scripts. Refer to AUTO-FETCHING FILES below for more information.
Options may be specified at the command line, or to the command inter‐
-4 Forces tnftp to only use IPv4 addresses.
-6 Forces tnftp to only use IPv6 addresses.
-A Force active mode FTP. By default, tnftp will try to use
passive mode FTP and fall back to active mode if passive is
not supported by the server. This option causes tnftp to al‐
ways use an active connection. It is only useful for con‐
necting to very old servers that do not implement passive
-a Causes tnftp to bypass normal login procedure, and use an
anonymous login instead.
-d Enables debugging.
-e Disables command line editing. This is useful for Emacs
-f Forces a cache reload for transfers that go through the FTP
or HTTP proxies.
-g Disables file name globbing.
-i Turns off interactive prompting during multiple file trans‐
-N netrc Use netrc instead of ~/.netrc. Refer to THE .netrc FILE for
-n Restrains tnftp from attempting “auto-login” upon initial
connection for non auto-fetch transfers. If auto-login is
enabled, tnftp will check the .netrc (see below) file in the
user's home directory for an entry describing an account on
the remote machine. If no entry exists, tnftp will prompt
for the remote machine login name (default is the user iden‐
tity on the local machine), and, if necessary, prompt for a
password and an account with which to login. To override the
auto-login for auto-fetch transfers, specify the username
(and optionally, password) as appropriate.
-o output When auto-fetching files, save the contents in output.
output is parsed according to the FILE NAMING CONVENTIONS be‐
low. If output is not ‘-’ or doesn't start with ‘|’, then
only the first file specified will be retrieved into output;
all other files will be retrieved into the basename of their
-P port Sets the port number to port.
-p Enable passive mode operation for use behind connection fil‐
tering firewalls. This option has been deprecated as tnftp
now tries to use passive mode by default, falling back to ac‐
tive mode if the server does not support passive connections.
Quit if the connection has stalled for quittime seconds.
-R Restart all non-proxied auto-fetches.
-r wait Retry the connection attempt if it failed, pausing for wait
-s srcaddr Uses srcaddr as the local IP address for all connections.
-t Enables packet tracing.
Set the maximum transfer rate for direction to maximum
bytes/second, and if specified, the increment to increment
bytes/second. Refer to rate for more information.
-u url file ...
Upload files on the command line to url where url is one of
the ‘ftp://’ URL types as supported by auto-fetch (with an
optional target filename for single file uploads), and file
is one or more local files to be uploaded.
-V Disable verbose and progress, overriding the default of en‐
abled when output is to a terminal.
-v Enable verbose and progress. This is the default if output
is to a terminal (and in the case of progress, tnftp is the
foreground process). Forces tnftp to show all responses from
the remote server, as well as report on data transfer statis‐
Set the size of the socket send and receive buffers to
xfersize. Refer to xferbuf for more information.
-? Display help to stdout, and exit.
The client host with which tnftp is to communicate may be specified on
the command line. If this is done, tnftp will immediately attempt to es‐
tablish a connection to an FTP server on that host; otherwise, tnftp will
enter its command interpreter and await instructions from the user. When
tnftp is awaiting commands from the user the prompt ‘ftp>’ is provided to
the user. The following commands are recognized by tnftp:
! [command [args]]
Invoke an interactive shell on the local machine. If there
are arguments, the first is taken to be a command to execute
directly, with the rest of the arguments as its arguments.
$ macro-name [args]
Execute the macro macro-name that was defined with the macdef
command. Arguments are passed to the macro unglobbed.
Supply a supplemental password required by a remote system
for access to resources once a login has been successfully
completed. If no argument is included, the user will be
prompted for an account password in a non-echoing input mode.
append local-file [remote-file]
Append a local file to a file on the remote machine. If
remote-file is left unspecified, the local file name is used
in naming the remote file after being altered by any ntrans
or nmap setting. File transfer uses the current settings for
type, format, mode, and structure.
ascii Set the file transfer type to network ASCII. This is the de‐
bell Arrange that a bell be sounded after each file transfer com‐
mand is completed.
binary Set the file transfer type to support binary image transfer.
bye Terminate the FTP session with the remote server and exit
tnftp. An end of file will also terminate the session and
case Toggle remote computer file name case mapping during get,
mget and mput commands. When case is on (default is off),
remote computer file names with all letters in upper case are
written in the local directory with the letters mapped to
Change the working directory on the remote machine to
cdup Change the remote machine working directory to the parent of
the current remote machine working directory.
chmod mode remote-file
Change the permission modes of the file remote-file on the
remote system to mode.
close Terminate the FTP session with the remote server, and return
to the command interpreter. Any defined macros are erased.
cr Toggle carriage return stripping during ascii type file re‐
trieval. Records are denoted by a carriage return/linefeed
sequence during ascii type file transfer. When cr is on (the
default), carriage returns are stripped from this sequence to
conform with the UNIX single linefeed record delimiter.
Records on non-UNIX remote systems may contain single line‐
feeds; when an ascii type transfer is made, these linefeeds
may be distinguished from a record delimiter only when cr is
Toggle debugging mode. If an optional debug-value is speci‐
fied it is used to set the debugging level. When debugging
is on, tnftp prints each command sent to the remote machine,
preceded by the string ‘-->’.
Delete the file remote-file on the remote machine.
dir [remote-path [local-file]]
Print a listing of the contents of a directory on the remote
machine. The listing includes any system-dependent informa‐
tion that the server chooses to include; for example, most
UNIX systems will produce output from the command ‘ls -l’.
If remote-path is left unspecified, the current working di‐
rectory is used. If interactive prompting is on, tnftp will
prompt the user to verify that the last argument is indeed
the target local file for receiving dir output. If no local
file is specified, or if local-file is ‘-’, the output is
sent to the terminal.
disconnect A synonym for close.
edit Toggle command line editing, and context sensitive command
and file completion. This is automatically enabled if input
is from a terminal, and disabled otherwise.
epsv, epsv4, epsv6
Toggle the use of the extended EPSV and EPRT commands on all
IP, IPv4, and IPv6 connections respectively. First try
EPSV/EPRT, and then PASV/PORT. This is enabled by default.
If an extended command fails then this option will be tempo‐
rarily disabled for the duration of the current connection,
or until epsv, epsv4, or epsv6 is executed again.
exit A synonym for bye.
features Display what features the remote server supports (using the
Retrieve the files listed in localfile, which has one line
Set the file transfer form to format. The default (and only
supported) format is “non-print”.
ftp host [port]
A synonym for open.
gate [host [port]]
Toggle gate-ftp mode, which used to connect through the TIS
FWTK and Gauntlet FTP proxies. This will not be permitted if
the gate-ftp server hasn't been set (either explicitly by the
user, or from the FTPSERVER environment variable). If host
is given, then gate-ftp mode will be enabled, and the gate-
ftp server will be set to host. If port is also given, that
will be used as the port to connect to on the gate-ftp
get remote-file [local-file]
Retrieve the remote-file and store it on the local machine.
If the local file name is not specified, it is given the same
name it has on the remote machine, subject to alteration by
the current case, ntrans, and nmap settings. The current
settings for type, form, mode, and structure are used while
transferring the file.
glob Toggle filename expansion for mdelete, mget, mput, and
mreget. If globbing is turned off with glob, the file name
arguments are taken literally and not expanded. Globbing for
mput is done as in csh(1). For mdelete, mget, and mreget,
each remote file name is expanded separately on the remote
machine and the lists are not merged. Expansion of a direc‐
tory name is likely to be different from expansion of the
name of an ordinary file: the exact result depends on the
foreign operating system and FTP server, and can be previewed
by doing ‘mls remote-files -’. Note: mget, mput and mreget
are not meant to transfer entire directory subtrees of files.
That can be done by transferring a tar(1) archive of the sub‐
tree (in binary mode).
Toggle hash-sign (‘#’) printing for each data block trans‐
ferred. The size of a data block defaults to 1024 bytes.
This can be changed by specifying size in bytes. Enabling
hash disables progress.
Print an informative message about the meaning of command.
If no argument is given, tnftp prints a list of the known
Set the inactivity timer on the remote server to seconds sec‐
onds. If seconds is omitted, the current inactivity timer is
image A synonym for binary.
Change the working directory on the local machine. If no
directory is specified, the user's home directory is used.
less file A synonym for page.
Display local-file with the program specified by the set
lpwd Print the working directory on the local machine.
ls [remote-path [local-file]]
A synonym for dir.
Define a macro. Subsequent lines are stored as the macro
macro-name; a null line (consecutive newline characters in a
file or carriage returns from the terminal) terminates macro
input mode. There is a limit of 16 macros and 4096 total
characters in all defined macros. Macro names can be a maxi‐
mum of 8 characters. Macros are only applicable to the cur‐
rent session they are defined within (or if defined outside a
session, to the session invoked with the next open command),
and remain defined until a close command is executed. To in‐
voke a macro, use the $ command (see above).
The macro processor interprets ‘$’ and ‘\’ as special charac‐
ters. A ‘$’ followed by a number (or numbers) is replaced by
the corresponding argument on the macro invocation command
line. A ‘$’ followed by an ‘i’ signals the macro processor
that the executing macro is to be looped. On the first pass
‘$i’ is replaced by the first argument on the macro invoca‐
tion command line, on the second pass it is replaced by the
second argument, and so on. A ‘\’ followed by any character
is replaced by that character. Use the ‘\’ to prevent spe‐
cial treatment of the ‘$’.
Delete the remote-files on the remote machine.
mdir remote-files local-file
Like dir, except multiple remote files may be specified. If
interactive prompting is on, tnftp will prompt the user to
verify that the last argument is indeed the target local file
for receiving mdir output.
Expand the remote-files on the remote machine and do a get
for each file name thus produced. See glob for details on
the filename expansion. Resulting file names will then be
processed according to case, ntrans, and nmap settings.
Files are transferred into the local working directory, which
can be changed with ‘lcd directory’; new local directories
can be created with ‘! mkdir directory’.
Make a directory on the remote machine.
mls remote-files local-file
Like ls, except multiple remote files may be specified, and
the local-file must be specified. If interactive prompting
is on, tnftp will prompt the user to verify that the last ar‐
gument is indeed the target local file for receiving mls out‐
Display the contents of remote-path (which should default to
the current directory if not given) in a machine-parsable
form, using MLSD. The format of display can be changed with
‘remopts mlst ...’.
Display the details about remote-path (which should default
to the current directory if not given) in a machine-parsable
form, using MLST. The format of display can be changed with
‘remopts mlst ...’.
Set the file transfer mode to mode-name. The default (and
only supported) mode is “stream”.
Show the last modification time of the file on the remote ma‐
chine, in RFC 2822 format.
more file A synonym for page.
Expand wild cards in the list of local files given as argu‐
ments and do a put for each file in the resulting list. See
glob for details of filename expansion. Resulting file names
will then be processed according to ntrans and nmap settings.
As per mget, but performs a reget instead of get.
A synonym for mput.
newer remote-file [local-file]
Get the file only if the modification time of the remote file
is more recent that the file on the current system. If the
file does not exist on the current system, the remote file is
considered newer. Otherwise, this command is identical to
nlist [remote-path [local-file]]
A synonym for ls.
nmap [inpattern outpattern]
Set or unset the filename mapping mechanism. If no arguments
are specified, the filename mapping mechanism is unset. If
arguments are specified, remote filenames are mapped during
mput commands and put commands issued without a specified re‐
mote target filename. If arguments are specified, local
filenames are mapped during mget commands and get commands
issued without a specified local target filename. This com‐
mand is useful when connecting to a non-UNIX remote computer
with different file naming conventions or practices. The
mapping follows the pattern set by inpattern and outpattern.
inpattern is a template for incoming filenames (which may
have already been processed according to the ntrans and case
settings). Variable templating is accomplished by including
the sequences ‘$1’, ‘$2’, ..., ‘$9’ in inpattern. Use ‘\’ to
prevent this special treatment of the ‘$’ character. All
other characters are treated literally, and are used to de‐
termine the nmap [inpattern] variable values. For example,
given inpattern ‘$1.$2’ and the remote file name
‘mydata.data’, ‘$1’ would have the value ‘mydata’, and ‘$2’
would have the value ‘data’.
The outpattern determines the resulting mapped filename. The
sequences ‘$1’, ‘$2’, ..., ‘$9’ are replaced by any value re‐
sulting from the inpattern template. The sequence ‘$0’ is
replaced by the original filename. Additionally, the se‐
quence “[seq1, seq2]” is replaced by seq1 if seq1 is not a
null string; otherwise it is replaced by seq2. For example,
nmap $1.$2.$3 [$1,$2].[$2,file]
would yield the output filename ‘myfile.data’ for input file‐
names ‘myfile.data’ and ‘myfile.data.old’, ‘myfile.file’ for
the input filename ‘myfile’, and ‘myfile.myfile’ for the in‐
put filename ‘.myfile’. Spaces may be included in
outpattern, as in the example:
nmap $1 sed s/ *$// > $1
Use the ‘\’ character to prevent special treatment of the
‘$’, ‘[’, ‘]’, and ‘,’ characters.
ntrans [inchars [outchars]]
Set or unset the filename character translation mechanism.
If no arguments are specified, the filename character trans‐
lation mechanism is unset. If arguments are specified, char‐
acters in remote filenames are translated during mput com‐
mands and put commands issued without a specified remote tar‐
get filename. If arguments are specified, characters in lo‐
cal filenames are translated during mget commands and get
commands issued without a specified local target filename.
This command is useful when connecting to a non-UNIX remote
computer with different file naming conventions or practices.
Characters in a filename matching a character in inchars are
replaced with the corresponding character in outchars. If
the character's position in inchars is longer than the length
of outchars, the character is deleted from the file name.
open host [port]
Establish a connection to the specified host FTP server. An
optional port number may be supplied, in which case, tnftp
will attempt to contact an FTP server at that port. If the
set auto-login option is on (default), tnftp will also at‐
tempt to automatically log the user in to the FTP server (see
page file Retrieve file and display with the program specified by the
set pager option.
Toggle passive mode (if no arguments are given). If auto is
given, act as if FTPMODE is set to ‘auto’. If passive mode
is turned on (default), tnftp will send a PASV command for
all data connections instead of a PORT command. The PASV
command requests that the remote server open a port for the
data connection and return the address of that port. The re‐
mote server listens on that port and the client connects to
it. When using the more traditional PORT command, the client
listens on a port and sends that address to the remote
server, who connects back to it. Passive mode is useful when
using tnftp through a gateway router or host that controls
the directionality of traffic. (Note that though FTP servers
are required to support the PASV command by RFC 1123, some do
Perform dir [remote-path], and display the result with the
program specified by the set pager option.
Perform ls [remote-path], and display the result with the
program specified by the set pager option.
Perform mlsd [remote-path], and display the result with the
program specified by the set pager option.
preserve Toggle preservation of modification times on retrieved files.
progress Toggle display of transfer progress bar. The progress bar
will be disabled for a transfer that has local-file as ‘-’ or
a command that starts with ‘|’. Refer to FILE NAMING
CONVENTIONS for more information. Enabling progress disables
prompt Toggle interactive prompting. Interactive prompting occurs
during multiple file transfers to allow the user to selec‐
tively retrieve or store files. If prompting is turned off
(default is on), any mget or mput will transfer all files,
and any mdelete will delete all files.
When prompting is on, the following commands are available at
a Answer ‘yes’ to the current file, and automatically
answer ‘yes’ to any remaining files for the current
n Answer ‘no’, and do not transfer the file.
p Answer ‘yes’ to the current file, and turn off
prompt mode (as is “prompt off” had been given).
q Terminate the current operation.
y Answer ‘yes’, and transfer the file.
? Display a help message.
Any other response will answer ‘yes’ to the current file.
Execute an FTP command on a secondary control connection.
This command allows simultaneous connection to two remote FTP
servers for transferring files between the two servers. The
first proxy command should be an open, to establish the sec‐
ondary control connection. Enter the command ‘proxy ?’ to
see other FTP commands executable on the secondary connec‐
tion. The following commands behave differently when pref‐
aced by proxy: open will not define new macros during the
auto-login process, close will not erase existing macro defi‐
nitions, get and mget transfer files from the host on the
primary control connection to the host on the secondary con‐
trol connection, and put, mput, and append transfer files
from the host on the secondary control connection to the host
on the primary control connection. Third party file trans‐
fers depend upon support of the FTP protocol PASV command by
the server on the secondary control connection.
put local-file [remote-file]
Store a local file on the remote machine. If remote-file is
left unspecified, the local file name is used after process‐
ing according to any ntrans or nmap settings in naming the
remote file. File transfer uses the current settings for
type, format, mode, and structure.
pwd Print the name of the current working directory on the remote
quit A synonym for bye.
quote [arg ...]
The arguments specified are sent, verbatim, to the remote FTP
rate direction [maximum [increment]]
Throttle the maximum transfer rate to maximum bytes/second.
If maximum is 0, disable the throttle.
direction may be one of:
all Both directions.
get Incoming transfers.
put Outgoing transfers.
maximum can be modified on the fly by increment bytes (de‐
fault: 1024) each time a given signal is received:
SIGUSR1 Increment maximum by increment bytes.
SIGUSR2 Decrement maximum by increment bytes. The re‐
sult must be a positive number.
If maximum is not supplied, the current throttle rates are
Note: rate is not yet implemented for ascii mode transfers.
Set the size of the socket receive buffer to size.
recv remote-file [local-file]
A synonym for get.
reget remote-file [local-file]
reget acts like get, except that if local-file exists and is
smaller than remote-file, local-file is presumed to be a par‐
tially transferred copy of remote-file and the transfer is
continued from the apparent point of failure. This command
is useful when transferring very large files over networks
that are prone to dropping connections.
remopts command [command-options]
Set options on the remote FTP server for command to
command-options (whose absence is handled on a command-spe‐
cific basis). Remote FTP commands known to support options
include: MLST (used for MLSD and MLST).
rename [from [to]]
Rename the file from on the remote machine, to the file to.
reset Clear reply queue. This command re-synchronizes command/re‐
ply sequencing with the remote FTP server. Resynchronization
may be necessary following a violation of the FTP protocol by
the remote server.
Restart the immediately following get or put at the indicated
marker. On UNIX systems, marker is usually a byte offset
into the file.
Request help from the remote FTP server. If a command-name
is specified it is supplied to the server as well.
Delete a directory on the remote machine.
With no arguments, show status of remote machine. If
remote-file is specified, show status of remote-file on re‐
runique Toggle storing of files on the local system with unique file‐
names. If a file already exists with a name equal to the
target local filename for a get or mget command, a ‘.1’ is
appended to the name. If the resulting name matches another
existing file, a ‘.2’ is appended to the original name. If
this process continues up to ‘.99’, an error message is
printed, and the transfer does not take place. The generated
unique filename will be reported. Note that runique will not
affect local files generated from a shell command (see be‐
low). The default value is off.
send local-file [remote-file]
A synonym for put.
sendport Toggle the use of PORT commands. By default, tnftp will at‐
tempt to use a PORT command when establishing a connection
for each data transfer. The use of PORT commands can prevent
delays when performing multiple file transfers. If the PORT
command fails, tnftp will use the default data port. When
the use of PORT commands is disabled, no attempt will be made
to use PORT commands for each data transfer. This is useful
for certain FTP implementations which do ignore PORT commands
but, incorrectly, indicate they've been accepted.
set [option value]
Set option to value. If option and value are not given, dis‐
play all of the options and their values. The currently sup‐
ported options are:
anonpass Defaults to $FTPANONPASS
ftp_proxy Defaults to $ftp_proxy.
http_proxy Defaults to $http_proxy.
https_proxy Defaults to $https_proxy.
no_proxy Defaults to $no_proxy.
pager Defaults to $PAGER.
prompt Defaults to $FTPPROMPT.
rprompt Defaults to $FTPRPROMPT.
site [arg ...]
The arguments specified are sent, verbatim, to the remote FTP
server as a SITE command.
Return size of remote-file on remote machine.
Set the size of the socket send buffer to size.
status Show the current status of tnftp.
Set the file transfer structure to struct-name. The default
(and only supported) structure is “file”.
sunique Toggle storing of files on remote machine under unique file
names. The remote FTP server must support FTP protocol STOU
command for successful completion. The remote server will
report unique name. Default value is off.
system Show the type of operating system running on the remote ma‐
tenex Set the file transfer type to that needed to talk to TENEX
throttle A synonym for rate.
trace Toggle packet tracing.
Set the file transfer type to type-name. If no type is spec‐
ified, the current type is printed. The default type is net‐
Set the default umask on the remote server to newmask. If
newmask is omitted, the current umask is printed.
Unset option. Refer to set for more information.
Print the usage message for command.
user user-name [password [account]]
Identify yourself to the remote FTP server. If the password
is not specified and the server requires it, tnftp will
prompt the user for it (after disabling local echo). If an
account field is not specified, and the FTP server requires
it, the user will be prompted for it. If an account field is
specified, an account command will be relayed to the remote
server after the login sequence is completed if the remote
server did not require it for logging in. Unless tnftp is
invoked with “auto-login” disabled, this process is done au‐
tomatically on initial connection to the FTP server.
verbose Toggle verbose mode. In verbose mode, all responses from the
FTP server are displayed to the user. In addition, if ver‐
bose is on, when a file transfer completes, statistics re‐
garding the efficiency of the transfer are reported. By de‐
fault, verbose is on.
Set the size of the socket send and receive buffers to size.
A synonym for help.
Command arguments which have embedded spaces may be quoted with quote ‘"’
Commands which toggle settings can take an explicit on or off argument to
force the setting appropriately.
Commands which take a byte count as an argument (e.g., hash, rate, and
xferbuf) support an optional suffix on the argument which changes the in‐
terpretation of the argument. Supported suffixes are:
b Causes no modification. (Optional)
k Kilo; multiply the argument by 1024
m Mega; multiply the argument by 1048576
g Giga; multiply the argument by 1073741824
If tnftp receives a SIGINFO (see the status argument of stty(1)) or
SIGQUIT signal whilst a transfer is in progress, the current transfer
rate statistics will be written to the standard error output, in the same
format as the standard completion message.
In addition to standard commands, this version of tnftp supports an auto-
fetch feature. To enable auto-fetch, simply pass the list of host‐
names/files on the command line.
The following formats are valid syntax for an auto-fetch element:
“Classic” FTP format.
If path contains a glob character and globbing is enabled, (see
glob), then the equivalent of ‘mget path’ is performed.
If the directory component of path contains no globbing characters,
it is stored locally with the name basename (see basename(1)) of
path, in the current directory. Otherwise, the full remote name is
used as the local name, relative to the local root directory.
An FTP URL, retrieved using the FTP protocol if set ftp_proxy isn't
defined. Otherwise, transfer the URL using HTTP via the proxy de‐
fined in set ftp_proxy. If set ftp_proxy isn't defined and user is
given, login as user. In this case, use password if supplied, oth‐
erwise prompt the user for one.
If a suffix of ‘;type=A’ or ‘;type=I’ is supplied, then the trans‐
fer type will take place as ascii or binary (respectively). The
default transfer type is binary.
In order to be compliant with RFC 3986, tnftp interprets the path
part of an ‘ftp://’ auto-fetch URL as follows:
• The ‘/’ immediately after the host[:port] is interpreted as a
separator before the path, and not as part of the path itself.
• The path is interpreted as a ‘/’-separated list of name compo‐
nents. For all but the last such component, tnftp performs the
equivalent of a cd command. For the last path component, tnftp
performs the equivalent of a get command.
• Empty name components, which result from ‘//’ within the path,
or from an extra ‘/’ at the beginning of the path, will cause
the equivalent of a cd command without a directory name. This
is unlikely to be useful.
• Any ‘%XX’ codes (per RFC 3986) within the path components are
decoded, with XX representing a character code in hexadecimal.
This decoding takes place after the path has been split into
components, but before each component is used in the equivalent
of a cd or get command. Some often-used codes are ‘%2F’ (which
represents ‘/’) and ‘%7E’ (which represents ‘~’).
The above interpretation has the following consequences:
• The path is interpreted relative to the default login directory
of the specified user or of the ‘anonymous’ user. If the / di‐
rectory is required, use a leading path of ‘%2F’. If a user's
home directory is required (and the remote server supports the
syntax), use a leading path of ‘%7Euser/’. For example, to re‐
trieve /etc/motd from ‘localhost’ as the user ‘myname’ with the
password ‘mypass’, use
• The exact cd and get commands can be controlled by careful
choice of where to use ‘/’ and where to use ‘%2F’ (or ‘%2f’).
For example, the following URLs correspond to the equivalents
of the indicated commands:
ftp://host/dir1/dir2/file “cd dir1”, “cd dir2”, “get
ftp://host/%2Fdir1/dir2/file “cd /dir1”, “cd dir2”, “get
ftp://host/dir1%2Fdir2/file “cd dir1/dir2”, “get file”.
ftp://host/%2Fdir1%2Fdir2/file “cd /dir1/dir2”, “get file”.
ftp://host/dir1%2Fdir2%2Ffile “get dir1/dir2/file”.
ftp://host/%2Fdir1%2Fdir2%2Ffile “get /dir1/dir2/file”.
• You must have appropriate access permission for each of the in‐
termediate directories that is used in the equivalent of a cd
An HTTP URL, retrieved using the HTTP protocol. If set http_proxy
is defined, it is used as a URL to an HTTP proxy server. If HTTP
authorization is required to retrieve path, and user (and option‐
ally password) is in the URL, use them for the first attempt to au‐
An HTTPS URL, retrieved using the HTTPS protocol. If set
https_proxy is defined, it is used as a URL to an HTTPS proxy
server. If HTTPS authorization is required to retrieve path, and
user (and optionally password) is in the URL, use them for the
first attempt to authenticate. There is currently no certificate
validation and verification.
A local URL, copied from /path on the local host.
Display information regarding topic; no file is retrieved for this
auto-fetched element. Supported values include:
about:ftp Information about tnftp.
about:version The version of tnftp. Useful to provide when re‐
Unless noted otherwise above, and -o output is not given, the file is
stored in the current directory as the basename(1) of path. Note that if
a HTTP redirect is received, the fetch is retried using the new target
URL supplied by the server, with a corresponding new path. Using an ex‐
plicit -o output is recommended, to avoid writing to unexpected file
If a classic format or an FTP URL format has a trailing ‘/’ or an empty
path component, then tnftp will connect to the site and cd to the direc‐
tory given as the path, and leave the user in interactive mode ready for
further input. This will not work if set ftp_proxy is being used.
Direct HTTP transfers use HTTP 1.1. Proxied FTP and HTTP transfers use
If -R is given, all auto-fetches that don't go via the FTP or HTTP prox‐
ies will be restarted. For FTP, this is implemented by using reget in‐
stead of get. For HTTP, this is implemented by using the ‘Range: bytes=’
If WWW or proxy WWW authentication is required, you will be prompted to
enter a username and password to authenticate with.
When specifying IPv6 numeric addresses in a URL, you need to surround the
address in square brackets. E.g.: ‘ftp://[::1]:21/’. This is because
colons are used in IPv6 numeric address as well as being the separator
for the port number.
To abort a file transfer, use the terminal interrupt key (usually Ctrl-
C). Sending transfers will be immediately halted. Receiving transfers
will be halted by sending an FTP protocol ABOR command to the remote
server, and discarding any further data received. The speed at which
this is accomplished depends upon the remote server's support for ABOR
processing. If the remote server does not support the ABOR command, the
prompt will not appear until the remote server has completed sending the
If the terminal interrupt key sequence is used whilst tnftp is awaiting a
reply from the remote server for the ABOR processing, then the connection
will be closed. This is different from the traditional behaviour (which
ignores the terminal interrupt during this phase), but is considered more
Files specified as arguments to tnftp commands are processed according to
the following rules.
1. If the file name ‘-’ is specified, the stdin (for reading) or stdout
(for writing) is used.
2. If the first character of the file name is ‘|’, the remainder of the
argument is interpreted as a shell command. tnftp then forks a
shell, using popen(3) with the argument supplied, and reads (writes)
from the stdout (stdin). If the shell command includes spaces, the
argument must be quoted; e.g. ‘"| ls -lt"’. A particularly useful
example of this mechanism is: ‘dir "" |more’.
3. Failing the above checks, if globbing is enabled, local file names
are expanded according to the rules used in the csh(1); see the glob
command. If the tnftp command expects a single local file (e.g.
put), only the first filename generated by the globbing operation is
4. For mget commands and get commands with unspecified local file
names, the local filename is the remote filename, which may be al‐
tered by a case, ntrans, or nmap setting. The resulting filename
may then be altered if runique is on.
5. For mput commands and put commands with unspecified remote file
names, the remote filename is the local filename, which may be al‐
tered by a ntrans or nmap setting. The resulting filename may then
be altered by the remote server if sunique is on.
The FTP specification specifies many parameters which may affect a file
transfer. The type may be one of “ascii”, “image” (binary), “ebcdic”,
and “local byte size” (for PDP-10's and PDP-20's mostly). tnftp supports
the ascii and image types of file transfer, plus local byte size 8 for
tenex mode transfers.
tnftp supports only the default values for the remaining file transfer
parameters: mode, form, and struct.
The .netrc file contains login and initialization information used by the
auto-login process. It resides in the user's home directory, unless
overridden with the -N netrc option, or specified in the NETRC environ‐
ment variable. The following tokens are recognized; they may be sepa‐
rated by spaces, tabs, or new-lines:
Identify a remote machine name. The auto-login process
searches the .netrc file for a machine token that matches the
remote machine specified on the tnftp command line or as an
open command argument. Once a match is made, the subsequent
.netrc tokens are processed, stopping when the end of file is
reached or another machine or a default token is encountered.
default This is the same as machine name except that default matches
any name. There can be only one default token, and it must be
after all machine tokens. This is normally used as:
default login anonymous password user@site
thereby giving the user an automatic anonymous FTP login to ma‐
chines not specified in .netrc. This can be overridden by us‐
ing the -n flag to disable auto-login.
Identify a user on the remote machine. If this token is
present, the auto-login process will initiate a login using the
Supply a password. If this token is present, the auto-login
process will supply the specified string if the remote server
requires a password as part of the login process. Note that if
this token is present in the .netrc file for any user other
than anonymous, tnftp will abort the auto-login process if the
.netrc is readable by anyone besides the user.
Supply an additional account password. If this token is
present, the auto-login process will supply the specified
string if the remote server requires an additional account
password, or the auto-login process will initiate an ACCT com‐
mand if it does not.
Define a macro. This token functions like the tnftp macdef
command functions. A macro is defined with the specified name;
its contents begin with the next .netrc line and continue until
a blank line (consecutive new-line characters) is encountered.
Like the other tokens in the .netrc file, a macdef is applica‐
ble only to the machine definition preceding it. A macdef en‐
try cannot be used by multiple machine definitions; rather, it
must be defined following each machine it is intended to be
used with. If a macro named init is defined, it is automati‐
cally executed as the last step in the auto-login process. For
followed by a blank line.
tnftp supports interactive command line editing, via the editline(3) li‐
brary. It is enabled with the edit command, and is enabled by default if
input is from a tty. Previous lines can be recalled and edited with the
arrow keys, and other GNU Emacs-style editing keys may be used as well.
The editline(3) library is configured with a .editrc file — refer to
editrc(5) for more information.
An extra key binding is available to tnftp to provide context sensitive
command and filename completion (including remote file completion). To
use this, bind a key to the editline(3) command ftp-complete. By de‐
fault, this is bound to the TAB key.
By default, tnftp displays a command line prompt of ‘ftp> ’ to the user.
This can be changed with the set prompt command.
A prompt can be displayed on the right side of the screen (after the com‐
mand input) with the set rprompt command.
The following formatting sequences are replaced by the given information:
%/ The current remote working directory.
The trailing component of the current remote working direc‐
tory, or n trailing components if a digit n is given. If n
begins with ‘0’, the number of skipped components precede the
trailing component(s) in the format “/<number>trailing” (for
‘%c’) or “...trailing” (for ‘%.’).
%M The remote host name.
%m The remote host name, up to the first dot ‘.’.
%n The remote user name.
%% A single percent character ‘%’.
tnftp uses the following environment variables.
FTPANONPASS Password to send in an anonymous FTP transfer. Defaults
FTPMODE Overrides the default operation mode. Support values are:
active active mode FTP only
auto automatic determination of passive or active
(this is the default)
gate gate-ftp mode
passive passive mode FTP only
FTPPROMPT Command-line prompt to use. Defaults to ‘ftp> ’. Refer
to COMMAND LINE PROMPT for more information.
FTPRPROMPT Command-line right side prompt to use. Defaults to empty
string. Refer to COMMAND LINE PROMPT for more informa‐
FTPSERVER Host to use as gate-ftp server when gate is enabled.
FTPSERVERPORT Port to use when connecting to gate-ftp server when gate
is enabled. Default is port returned by a
getservbyname(3) lookup of “ftpgate/tcp”.
FTPUSERAGENT The value to send for the HTTP User-Agent header.
HOME For default location of a .netrc file, if one exists.
NETRC An alternate location of the .netrc file.
PAGER Used by various commands to display files. Defaults to
more(1) if empty or not set.
SHELL For default shell.
ftp_proxy URL of FTP proxy to use when making FTP URL requests (if
not defined, use the standard FTP protocol).
See http_proxy for further notes about proxy use.
http_proxy URL of HTTP proxy to use when making HTTP URL requests.
If proxy authentication is required and there is a user‐
name and password in this URL, they will automatically be
used in the first attempt to authenticate to the proxy.
If “unsafe” URL characters are required in the username or
password (for example ‘@’ or ‘/’), encode them with RFC
3986 ‘%XX’ encoding.
Note that the use of a username and password in ftp_proxy
and http_proxy may be incompatible with other programs
that use it (such as lynx(1)).
NOTE: this is not used for interactive sessions, only for
https_proxy URL of HTTPS proxy to use when making HTTPS URL requests.
See http_proxy for further notes about proxy use.
no_proxy A space or comma separated list of hosts (or domains) for
which proxying is not to be used. Each entry may have an
optional trailing ‘:port’, which restricts the matching to
connections to that port.
Some firewall configurations do not allow tnftp to use extended passive
mode. If you find that even a simple ls appears to hang after printing a
message such as this:
229 Entering Extended Passive Mode (|||58551|)
then you will need to disable extended passive mode with epsv4 off. See
the above section The .netrc File for an example of how to make this au‐
getservbyname(3), editrc(5), services(5), ftpd(8)
tnftp attempts to be compliant with:
RFC 959 File Transfer Protocol
RFC 1123 Requirements for Internet Hosts - Application and Support
RFC 1635 How to Use Anonymous FTP
RFC 2389 Feature negotiation mechanism for the File Transfer
RFC 2428 FTP Extensions for IPv6 and NATs
RFC 2616 Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1
RFC 2822 Internet Message Format
RFC 3659 Extensions to FTP
RFC 3986 Uniform Resource Identifier (URI)
The tnftp command appeared in 4.2BSD.
Various features such as command line editing, context sensitive command
and file completion, dynamic progress bar, automatic fetching of files
and URLs, modification time preservation, transfer rate throttling, con‐
figurable command line prompt, and other enhancements over the standard
BSD tnftp were implemented in NetBSD 1.3 and later releases by Luke
IPv6 support was added by the WIDE/KAME project (but may not be present
in all non-NetBSD versions of this program, depending if the operating
system supports IPv6 in a similar manner to KAME).
Correct execution of many commands depends upon proper behavior by the
An error in the treatment of carriage returns in the 4.2BSD ascii-mode
transfer code has been corrected. This correction may result in incor‐
rect transfers of binary files to and from 4.2BSD servers using the ascii
type. Avoid this problem by using the binary image type.
tnftp assumes that all IPv4 mapped addresses (IPv6 addresses with a form
like ::ffff:10.1.1.1) indicate IPv4 destinations which can be handled by
AF_INET sockets. However, in certain IPv6 network configurations, this
assumption is not true. In such an environment, IPv4 mapped addresses
must be passed to AF_INET6 sockets directly. For example, if your site
uses a SIIT translator for IPv6-to-IPv4 translation, tnftp is unable to
support your configuration.
BSD April 25, 2021 BSD