Ftp Basics | Ftp Commands|
The File Transfer Protocol (FTP), as its name states, is a set of rules that dictates how files should be transfered over the TCP/IP protocol. A basic FTP connection consists of a client and a server. The client gets a file by opening a connection to the server. Usually, the server is run on port 21, however, the system administrator can change this if he or she wishes.
Once the client has connected to the server, the server will send a greeting to the client. A greeting usually looks something like the following:
220 SpiderMan's FTP server. Please login!
After the server has sent its greeting, the client sends a request. A request is made up of a verb and, for some verbs, a parameter. Common verbs are:
|CWD||Change the current directory on the server.|
|PWD||Print the current directory on the server.|
|CDUP||Moves up to the parent directory.|
|LIST||List the contents of a directory.|
|MKD||Creates a directory on the server.|
|RMD||Removes a directory from the server.|
|DELE||Removes a file from the server.|
|USER||Sends the username for the login.|
|PASS||Sends the password for the login.|
|ABOR||Abort the transfer.|
|QUIT||Closes the connection with the server.|
|STAT||Gets the current status of the server.|
|TYPE||Toggles the binary flag on the server.|
|PORT||Asks the server to connect to the client.|
|PASV||Requests a data connection on a new port.|
|RETR||Requests the server to send a file.|
|STOR||Sends a file from the client to the server|
|APPE||Same as STOR, except data is appended.|
|REST||Start a download at a certain position.|
|SYST||Gets the OS information of the server.|
|HELP||Get help on a verb.|
After sending a request, the client should wait for the server to respond before the client sends another request; however, the client can send an ABOR, STAT, or QUIT request without waiting for the server to respond. Typically, after the server has sent the greeting, the client will respond with a USER request in which the client sends the username to log into the FTP server with.
After the client has sent the server a request, the server replies with a response. A response consists of a completion code followed by one, or more, lines. Generally, if the second digit of the completion code is a 0, it is a syntax error message; if the second digit of the completion code is a 2, it is a hello or goodbye message.
Once the client is logged in, he or she would then get the file he or she wishes to retrieve. A typical session would look similar to this:
220 SpiderMan's FTP server. Please login! USER SpiderMan 331 Username okay. Send password! PASS password 230 Password accepted, user logged in. LIST 150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for /bin/ls 226 Transfer complete TYPE I 200 Type set to I PASV 227 Entering passive mode (206,84,161,87,28,46) RETR datafile.zip 150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for datafile.zip 226 Transfer complete
I should elaborate on the PASV and PORT request since they are very important to FTP. You may be wondering just what the PASV request is used for and what the odd looking response from the server is supposed to mean. When the client sends a PASV request, the server opens up a temporary socket and sends a reply to the client which informs the client of port to connect to. The reply would look like this:
PASV 227 Entering passive mode (206,84,161,87,28,46)
The PORT request is similar to the PASV request, however, when the client sends a PASV request, the server opens another socket and the client connects to it. When a client sends a PORT request, the server connects to the client—usually on port 20.
With the advent of IPv6, you may be wondering how FTP will be carried out since the servers are replying to the PASV requests with an IPv4 IP. One solution, proposed by D. Bernstein, would be to have IPv6 servers send a nonexistent IP address and have IPv6 clients ignore the IP and skip straight to the port number. This way, older clients using IPv4 will connect to a fake IP and give up trying to connect to the server.
Now that you know how FTP works, I'll show you how to log into a server, look around, and then get a file. Before I begin, I should tell you about anonymous FTP servers. An anonymous FTP server is just like a normal server, however, you can login using the username “anonymous” and an e-mail as the password. In this example, I'll use a fake e-mail of firstname.lastname@example.org. Most anonymous FTP servers only read up to the @ sign, so if you're lazy you can just type in “guest@”. A lot of sites offer anonymous FTP because it is an easy way to let the public get files without assigning each person a login. On with the example!
First, I connect to the server and send my username and password.
220 SpiderMan's FTP server. Please login! USER anonymous 331 Anonymous login okay, send e-mail as password. PASS email@example.com 230 Password accepted, logged in as anonymous.
CWD ./files 250 CWD command successful. TYPE I 200 Type set to I PASV 227 Entering passive mode (210,52,165,168,15,26) RETR code.zip 150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for code.zip 226 Transfer complete
CWD .. 250 Okay CWD ./jokes 250 CWD command successful. TYPE A 200 Type set to A PASV 227 Entering passive mode (210,52,165,168,15,26) RETR jokes.txt 150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for jokes.txt 226 Transfer complete
221 Goodbye, please come back!