The Internet Metayoga Pages

(Information and Useful Things)

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 cfl1992 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

Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this booklet
under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided that the entire resulting
derived work is distributed under the terms of a permission notice identical
to this one.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute translations of this booklet into
another language, under the above conditions for modified versions, except
that this permission notice may be stated in a translation approved by the


Table of Contents

Preface                                                       1

Acknowledgements                                              3

1    Network Basics                                           5

        1.1  Domains                                          5
        1.2  Internet Numbers                                 7
        1.3  Resolving Names and Numbers                      7
        1.4  The Networks                                     8
        1.5  The Physical Connection                          8

2    Electronic  Mail                                        11

        2.1  Email Addresses                                 11
                2.1.1  %@!.: Symbolic Cacophony              11
                2.1.2  Sending and Receiving Mail            12
                2.1.3  Anatomy of a Mail Header              13
                2.1.4  Bounced Mail                          14
        2.2  Mailing Lists                                   15
                2.2.1  Listservs                             16

3    Anonymous FTP                                           19

        3.1  FTP Etiquette                                   19
        3.2  Basic Commands                                  20
                3.2.1  Creating the Connection               20
                3.2.2  dir                                   21
                3.2.3  cd                                    22
                3.2.4  get and put                           22
                ASCII vs Binary             23
                mget and mput               24
        3.3  The archie Server                               25
                3.3.1  Using archie Today                    25
                3.3.2  archie Clients                        26
                3.3.3  Mailing archie                        27
                3.3.4  The whatis database                   27

4    Usenet  News                                            29

        4.1  What Usenet Is                                  29

ii                                             Zen and the Art of the Internet

        4.2  The Diversity of Usenet                         29
        4.3  What Usenet Is Not                              29
        4.4  Propagation of News                             31
        4.5  Group Creation                                  32
        4.6  If You're Unhappy                               33
        4.7  The History of Usenet (The ABCs)                33
        4.8  Hierarchies                                     34
        4.9  Moderated vs Unmoderated                        35
        4.10  news.groups & news.announce.newgroups          36
        4.11  How Usenet Works                               36
        4.12  Mail Gateways                                  37
        4.13  Usenet "Netiquette"                            37
                4.13.1  Signatures                           37
                4.13.2  Posting Personal Messages            38
                4.13.3  Posting Mail                         38
                4.13.4  Test Messages                        39
                4.13.5  Famous People Appearing              39
                4.13.6  Summaries                            39
                4.13.7  Quoting                              40
                4.13.8  Crossposting                         41
                4.13.9  Recent News                          41
                4.13.10  Quality of Postings                 41
                4.13.11  Useful Subjects                     42
                4.13.12  Tone of Voice                       42
                4.13.13  Computer Religion                   43
        4.14  Frequently Asked Questions                     43
                4.14.1  The Pit-Manager Archive              43

5    Telnet                                                  45

        5.1  Using Telnet                                    45
                5.1.1  Telnet Ports                          45
        5.2  Publicly Accessible Libraries                   46
        5.3  The Cleveland Freenet                           47
        5.4  Directories                                     47
                5.4.1  Knowbot                               48
                5.4.2  White Pages                           48
        5.5  Databases                                       48
                5.5.1  Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (CARL) 48
                5.5.2  PENpages                                       49
                5.5.3  Clemson Univ. Forestry & Agricultural Network  49
                5.5.4  University of Maryland Info Database           49
                5.5.5  University of Michigan Weather Underground     50
                5.5.6  Geographic Name Server                         50
                5.5.7  FEDIX_Minority Scholarship Information         50


                5.5.8  Science & Technology Information System        51
                5.5.9  Ocean Network Information Center               51
                5.5.10  NASA/IPAC ExtragalacticDatabase (NED)         51
                5.5.11  U.S. Naval Observatory Automated Data Service 52

6    Various  Tools                                          53

        6.1  Finger                                          53
        6.2  Ping                                            54
        6.3  Talk                                            55
        6.4  The WHOIS Database                              55
                6.4.1  Other Uses of WHOIS                   57

7    Commercial  Services                                    59

        7.1  Electronic Journals                             59
        7.2  Commercial Databases                            60
        7.3  Clarinet News                                   60

8    Things You'll Hear About                                63

        8.1  The Internet Worm                               63
        8.2  The Cuckoo's Egg                                64
        8.3  Organizations                                   64
                8.3.1  The Association for Computing Machinery          65
                8.3.2  Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility 65
                8.3.3  The Electronic Frontier Foundation               66
                8.3.4  The Free SoftwareFoundation                      68
                8.3.5  The League for Programming Freedom               68
        8.4  Networking Initiatives                          69
                8.4.1  NREN                                  69

9    Finding Out More                                        71

        9.1  Internet Resource Guide                         71
        9.2  Requests for Comments                           71

Conclusion                                                   73

Appendix A    Getting to Other Networks                      75

Appendix B    Retrieving Files via Email                     77

        ArchiveServers                                       77
        FTP-by-MailServers                                   77

iv                                            Zen and the Art of the Internet

Appendix C    Newsgroup Creation                             79

        Discussion                                           79
        Voting                                               79
        The Result of a Vote                                 81
        Creation of the Group                                81

Glossary                                                     83

Bibliography                                                 91

        Books                                                91
        Periodicals & Papers                                 92

Index                                                        95

Preface                                                                      1


   The composition of this booklet was originally started because the Com-
puter Science department at WidenerUniversity 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 thereader with much of what's
currently availableover 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 anyone.

   Some typographical conventions are maintained throughout this guide.
All abstract items like possible filenames, usernames, etc., are all represented
in italics. Likewise,definite filenames and email addresses are represented in
a quoted `typewriter' font. A user's sessionis usually offset from the rest
of the paragraph, as such:

     prompt> command
          The results are usually displayedhere.

   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 onany 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 be-
come a fantastic time-sink. Hours can slip by, people can come and go, and
you'll be locked into Cyberspace. Remember to do your work!

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

                                                                  Chester, PA

2                                             Zen and the Art of the Internet

Acknowledgements                                                          3


   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 PeterDeutsch 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 resourcesthat are already out there.  I'd like to
thank the folks who gave thisa 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.

  fflAndy Blankenbiller, Army at Aberdeen

  fflAlan Emtage, McGill University Computer Science Department

  fflBrian Fitzgerald, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

  fflJohn Goetsch, Rhodes University, South Africa

  fflJeff Kellem, BostonUniversity's Chemistry Department

  fflBill Krauss, Moravian College

  fflSteve Lodin, Delco Electronics

  fflMike Nesel, NASA

  fflBob Neveln, Widener University Computer Science Department

  fflWanda Pierce, McGill University Computing Centre

  fflJoshua Poulson, Widener University Computing Services

  fflDave Sill, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

  fflBob Smart, CitiCorp/TTI

  fflEd Vielmetti, Vice President of MSEN

  fflCraig Ward, USC/Information Sciences Institute (ISI)

  fflGlee Willis, University of Nevada, Reno

  fflChip Yamasaki, OSHA

4                                             Zen and the Art of the Internet

Chapter 1: Network Basics                                                 5

1  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 successfulin 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 bo dyof knowledge hereto-
fore 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 networkis 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.

1.1  Domains

   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 addresson a computer: user@somewhere.domain
     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

6                                             Zen and the Art of the Internet

system or location, and what kind of organization it is. The trailing domain
is often one of the following:

com          Usually a company or other commercial institution or organiza-
             tion, like Convex Computers (`').

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

gov          A government site; for example, NASA is `'.

mil          A military site, like the Air Force (`').

net          Gateways and other administrative hosts for a network (it does
             not mean all of the hosts in a network).1 One such gateway is

org          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 (see Section 8.3.3 [EFF],
             page 66), 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.

   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 ob-
vious 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


 1 The Matrix, 111.

Chapter 1: Network Basics                                                 7

1.2  InternetNumbers

   Every single machine on the Internet has a unique address,2 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 numbers.

   Each piece of an Internet address (like 192) iscalled an "octet," rep-
resenting 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 or via regular mail.

1.3  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 all?

   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.

 2 At least one address, possibly two or even three; but we won't go into


8                                             Zen and the Art of the Internet

   Rarely will a user have to remember the Internet number of a site (al-
though often you'll catch yourself remembering an apparently obscure num-
ber, 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 do-
main name a certain college, university, or company might have, given just
their name.

1.4  The Networks

Internet     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, com-
             municating at amazing speeds with the TCP/IP protocol. All
             activity takes place in "real-time."
UUCP         The UUCP network is a loose association of systems all com-
             municating 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       BITNET (the "Because It'sTime 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

1.5  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 56-kilobit-per-secondconnections) and T1 links (spe-
cial phone lines with 1Mbps connections). Also installed are T3 links, acting

Chapter 1: Network Basics                                                 9

as backbones between major locations to carry a massive 45Mbps load of

   These links are paid for by each institution to a local carrier (for exam-
ple, 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
Section 1.4 [The Networks], page 8, 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 network.

                                    "The Glory and the Nothing of a Name"
                                                     Byron, Churchill's Grave

10                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Chapter 2: Electronic Mail                                                11

2  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 preva-
lent application of this in computer networking.  It allows people to write
back and forth without havingto 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.

2.1  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, 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.

2.1.1  %@!.: 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 `'.  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 "rout-
ing"  method.   For  example, if  the  UUCP site  dream  is  connected  to

 1 See  [Archive Servers], page 77, for a description.

12                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet, but doesn't have an Internet domain name of its own,
a user debbie on dream can be reached by writing to the address

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 for
ordering information.

2.1.2  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 this:

     % mail
     Subject: print job'sstuck

     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 joeuser@foo.widene Tue May  5 20:36   29/956   print job's stuck

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:

Chapter 2: Electronic Mail                                                13

     ? 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.

2.1.3  Anatomy of a Mail Header

   An electronic mail message has a specific structure to it that's common
across every type of computer system.2  Asample would be:

     From SatMay 25 17:06:01 1991
     Received: from by with SMTP id AA21901
       (4.1/SMI for; Sat, 25 May 91 17:05:56 -0400
     Date: Sat, 25 May 9117:05:56 -0400
     From: The President
     Message-Id: <>
     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

 2 The standard is written down in RFC-822. See [RFCs],page 73 for more

   info on how to get copies of the various RFCs.

14                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

(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 rout-
ing, and is rarely of interest to normal users. Every `Message-ID:' is guar-
anteed 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

2.1.4  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; acommon 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.

     From: Mail DeliverySubsystem 
     Date: Sat, 25 May 9116:45:14 -0400
     Subject: Returned mail: User unknown

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

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

 3 Though if she asked, we'd certainly give her one.

Chapter 2: Electronic Mail                                                15

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 -0400
     Date: Sat, 25 May 9116:45:14 -0400
     From: Matt Groening
     Message-Id: <>
     Subject: Scripting your future episodes

     : : :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

2.2  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 ad-
dresses. For example, the Sun Managers mailing list (of interest to people
that administer computers manufactured by Sun) has the address `sun-'. Any mail sent to that address will "explode" out
to each person named in a file maintained on a computer at Northwestern

   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 Man-
agers list should be sent to `'.

   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

16                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

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 oftime, 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 afile 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 (, and is posted in
parts to the newsgroup news.lists semi-regularly. (See Chapter 4 [Usenet
News], page 29, for info on how to read that and other newsgroups.)

2.2.1  Listservs

   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 aset 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
`LISTSERV@BITNIC.BITNET' 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.

Chapter 2: Electronic Mail                                                17

   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 ofthe available listserv commands, write to
`LISTSERV@BITNIC.BITNET', 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 mostcom-
plete 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

18                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Chapter 3: Anonymous FTP                                              19

3  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

   There is a good way around this restriction: the anonymous FTP  ser-
vice.  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 en-
tire disks or even entire computers to maintaining extensive archives of
source code and information.  They include (Digi-
tal), (Washington University in Saint Louis),  and (The Ohio State University).

   The process involves the "foreign" user (someone noton the system it-
self) creating an FTP connection and logging into the system as the user
`anonymous', with an arbitrary password:

     Name ( anonymous

Custom and netiquette dictate that people respond to the Password: query
with an email address so that the sitescan track the level of FTP usage, if
they desire. (See Section 2.1 [Addresses], page 11 for information on email

   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 (see Section 1.5 [The Physical Connection],
page 8, 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 transfer.

3.1  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

20                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

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 destructiveat 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.

3.2  BasicCommands

   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 op-
erate an FTP session.

3.2.1  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'reable to use hostnames for simplicity's sake. The form is

     ftp somewhere.domain

See Section 1.1 [Domains], page 5 for help with reading and using domain
names (in the example below, somewhere.domain is

   You must first know the name of thesystem you want to connect to.
We'll use `' asan 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:

Chapter 3: Anonymous FTP                                              21

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

to which you should respond with anonymous:

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

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

     331 Guest login ok,send ident as password.
     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.

3.2.2  dir

   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
                               : :e:tc etc : : :
     -rw-rw-r--  1 7        14          42390 May 20 02:24 newthisweek.Z
                               : :e:tc 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

22                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

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 connec-
tion; 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 outfilename.

3.2.3  cd

   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 [-]'.

3.2.4  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 onthe remote system. Again using as
an example, the file `newthisweek.Z' can be retrieved with

Chapter 3: Anonymous FTP                                              23

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

The section below on using binary mode instead of ASCII will describe why
this particular choice will resultin 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 sup-
posedly 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 useless.

   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.)

24                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Note that each command need only be done once to take effect; if the 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 bytes).
     226 Transfer complete.
     local: newthisweek.Zremote: newthisweek.Z
     42390 bytes receivedin 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 wild-
cards 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 ofthe local files that end with .c:

     ftp> mput *.c

   Rather than reiterate what's been written a hundred times before,con-
sult 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 off.

     ftp> prompt
     Interactive mode off.

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

Chapter 3: Anonymous FTP                                              25

3.3  The Archie Server

   A group of people at McGill University in Canada got together and cre-
ated a query system called archie. Itwas 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 FTP mail servers for those not on the Internet.  (See
[FTP-by-Mail Servers], page 77, for info on using FTPmail servers.)

3.3.1  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 reasonablyup to date.

   To access archie interactively,  telnet to one of the existing servers.1
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 theservers, enter `archie' to log in.  A
greeting will be displayed,detailing information about ongoing work in the
archie project; the user willb e 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

 1 See Chapter 5 [Telnet], page 45, for notes on using the telnet program.

26                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

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

     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

3.3.2  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) avail-
able 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 direc-
tory `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.

Chapter 3: Anonymous FTP                                              27

3.3.3  Mailing archie

   Users limited to email connectivity to the Internetshould send a message
to the address `'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

3.3.4  Thewhatis 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 Internet.

   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 publiclyaccessible 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 `'.

                                                          "Was fur plundern!"
                                                ("What a place to plunder!")
                                                  Gebhard Leberecht Blucher

28                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Chapter 4: Usenet News                                                   29

4  Usenet News

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

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

4.1  What Usenet Is

   Usenet is the set of machines that exchange articlestagged 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', `roundtable', `SIG', etc. are incorrect. If
you want to be understood, be accurate.)

4.2  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 computersof 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.

4.3  What Usenet Is Not

Usenet is not an organization.

             Usenet has no central authority. In fact, it has no central any-
             thing. Thereis a vague notion of "upstream" and "downstream"

30                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

             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.

             Ademocracy can be loosely defined as "government of the peo-
             ple, by the people, for the people." However, as explained above,
             Usenet is not an organization, and only an organization can be
             run as a demo cracy.  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 wishthat Usenet were a democracy. Many people
             pretend thatit is. Both groups are sadly deluded.

Usenet is not fair.

             After all, who shall decide what's fair? For that matter, if some-
             one 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' com-
             puters to say what they wish in whatever way they wish, and
             the owners of said computers have no right to stop them.

             Those people arewrong. Freedom of speech also means freedom
             not to speak; if I choose notto 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 Usenetsites 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, Usenetoriginated 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 mayb e grudgingly tolerated. Even so, it is usually separated
             somehow from non-commercial traffic; see comp.newprod.

Chapter 4: Usenet News                                                   31

Usenet is not the Internet.

             The Internet is a wide-ranging network, parts of which are subsi-
             dized by various governments. The Internet carries manykinds
             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 assumethat everyone is using "rn" on a Unix machine.
             There are Vaxen running VMS, IBM mainframes, Amigas, and
             MS-DOS PCsreading and posting to Usenet.  And, yes, some
             of them use(shudder) EBCDIC. Ignore them if you like, but
             they're outthere.

Usenet is not software.

             There are dozens of software packages used at varioussites to
             transport and read Usenet articles. So no one program or pack-
             age 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.

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

   Well, enough negativity.

4.4  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 Usenetfeeds thinkable for
smaller companies.  There is only one pre-eminent UUCP  transport site

32                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

today in the U.S.,namely UUNET. But UUNET isn't a player in the propa-
gation wars, becauseit 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 cen-
tral registries. This is all very unlike the traditional mode of U.S. sites (pi*
a name, get the software, geta feed, you're on).  Europe's "benign mo-
nopolies", long uncontested, now face competition from looser organizations
patterned after the U.S. model.

4.5  GroupCreation

   As discussed above, Usenet is not a democracy.  Nevertheless,currently
the most popular way to create a new newsgroup involves a "vote" to de-
termine popular support for (and opposition to) a proposed newsgroup. See
Appendix C [Newsgroup Creation], page 79, 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 toenforce the results of a newsgroup vote (or any
other decision, for that matter). Therefore, for your new newsgroup tob e
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 im-
patient to wait six months, then you really need to learn;read news.groups
for a year instead. If you just can'twait, find a Usenet old hand to run the
vote for you.

   Readers may think this advice unnecessarily strict.  Ignore itat your
peril. It is embarrassing to speak before learning. It isfo olish 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.

Chapter 4: Usenet News                                                   33

4.6  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, afterall?

   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

   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, onlythe administrator and/or owner of that site have any authority to
do anything about it. Persuade them thatthe 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.

4.7  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.1 Steve Bellovin later rewrote the scripts
into Cprograms, but they were never releasedb eyond unc and duke. Shortly

34                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

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 MattGlickman 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 was2.10.1.

   Rick Adams, then at the Center for Seismic Studies, took over coordi-
nation of the maintenance and enhancement of the news software with the
2.10.2 release in 1984. By this time, theincreasing volume of news was be-
coming 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, ver-
sion 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 proceedings.

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

4.8  Hierarchies

   Newsgroups are organized according to their specific areas of concentra-
tion. Since the groups are in a tree structure, the various areas arecalled
hierarchies. There are seven major categories:
 1 The Usenix conferences are semi-annual meetings where members of the

   Usenix Association, a group of Unix enthusiasts, meet andtrade notes.

Chapter 4: Usenet News                                                   35

`comp'       Topics of interest to both computer professionals and hobby-
             ists, including topics in computer science, software sources, and
             informationon hardware and software systems.

`misc'       Group addressing themes not easily classified into any of the
             other headings or which incorporate themes from multiple cat-
             egories. Subjects include fitness, job-hunting, law,and invest-

`sci'        Discussionsmarked by special knowledge relating to research in
             or application of the established sciences.

`soc'        Groups primarily addressing social issues and socializing.  In-
             cluded are discussions related to many different world cultures.

`talk'       Groups largely debate-oriented and tending to feature long dis-
             cussions without resolution and without appreciable amounts of
             generally useful information.

`news'       Groups concerned with the news network, group maintenance,

`rec'        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 en-
joy such wide distribution,however. The European Usenet and Eunet sites
take only a selected subset of themore "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 (b eing actual executable programs).

   Also available are a number of "alternative" hierarchies:

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

`gnu'        Groups concentrating on interests and software with the GNU
             Project of the Free Software Foundation.  For further info on
             what the FSFis, see Section 8.3.4 [FSF], page 68.

`biz'        Business-related groups.

4.9  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

36                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

individually to Usenet, or posts a composite digest of the articlesfor the
past day or two. This is how many mailing list gateways work (for example,
the Risks Digest).

4.10  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  in-
cludes following the discussion inthe groups news.groups and the notes
in news.announce.newgroups. It is there thatdiscussion 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.

4.11  How UsenetWorks

   The transmission of Usenet news is entirely cooperative. Feeds are gener-
ally provided out of good will and the desireto distribute news everywhere.
There are places which providefeeds for a fee (e.g.  UUNET), but for the
large part no exchange of money isinvolved.

   There are two major transport methods, UUCP andNNTP. 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

   With UUCP, news is stored in batcheson 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 latitudewith how news
is sent.  The traditional store-and-forward method is, of course, available.
Given the "real-time" nature of theInternet, though, other methods have
been devised.  Programs now keep constantconnections 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 neigh-
bor, 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

Chapter 4: Usenet News                                                   37

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 thedo cumentation for the Cnews and NNTP pack-
ages, as well as in RFC-1036, the Standard for Interchange of USENET
Messages and RFC-977, Network News Transfer Protocol: A Proposed Stan-
dard for the Stream-Based Transmission of News. The RFCs do tend to be
rather dry reading, particularly to thenew user.  See  [RFCs], page 73 for
information on retrieving RFCs.

4.12  MailGateways

   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 anewsgroup can
be sent to the moderator of the mailing list, or tothe 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 theprob-
lem of a single message being deliveredto a number of people at the same
site_instead, anyone can justsubscribe to the group.  Also, mailing list
maintenance is lowered substantially, since the moderators don't have to be
constantly removing and addingusers to and from the list.  Instead, the
people can read and not read the newsgroup attheir leisure.

4.13  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.

4.13.1  Signatures

   At the end of most articles is a small blurb called a person'ssignature.
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 thep erson p osting the article, including

38                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

their email address, phone numb er,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 getyou
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-writtensignature or faces or even the space
shuttle. This is not cute, andwill bother people to no end.

   Similarly, it's not necessary to include yoursignature_if you forget to
append it to an article, don't worry ab outit.  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.

4.13.2  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 personreading the group is very
high, all of the other peoplereading 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 intouch 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.

4.13.3  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 permis-
sion to redistribute it. While the legal issues can be heavilydebated, most
everyone agrees that email should be treated as anything one would receive
via normal snailmail,2, with all of the assumed rights that are carried with


 2 The slang for the normal land and air postal service.

Chapter 4: Usenet News                                                   39

4.13.4  Test Messages

   Many people, particularly new users, want to try outp osting before actu-
ally 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 netiquettefaux 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 resp ond to the posts, often including
the article so the poster can see how itgot to the person's site. Also, many
regional hierarchies havetest groups, like phl.test in Philadelphia.

   By all means, experiment and test_just do it in its proper place.

4.13.5  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 peo-
ple. One should act with skepticismwhenever a notable personality is "seen"
in a newsgroup.

4.13.6  Summaries

   Authors of articles occasionally say that readers should replyby 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.

40                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

   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

   Also, sometimes people will respond but request to remain anonymous
(one example is the employeesof 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)'.

4.13.7  Quoting

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

     In article <>, 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:

     : :e:tc : : :

   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.3  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 knowwho 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 thatthe 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 peoplebicker incessantly.


 3 But not changing their words, of course.

Chapter 4: Usenet News                                                   41

4.13.8  Crossp osting

   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 andcomp.simulation. It's
usually safe to crosspost to up to three or four groups.  To list more than
that is considered "excessive noise."

   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 discus-
sion should be directed to. Forthe 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.

4.13.9  Recent News

   One should avoid posting "recent" events_sp orts 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.4)

4.13.10  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 youhave trouble

 4 Note that the Clarinet News service (see Section 7.3 [Clarinet], page 60)

   offers news items in a Usenet format as a precise alternative to the morn-
   ing paper, et. al.

42                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

with grammar and punctuation,try to get a book on English grammar and
composition (found in many bookstores and at garagesales).  By allmeans
pay attention to what yousay_it makes you who you are on The Net.

   Likewise, try to be clear in what youask. 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 thep ostif it's needed, but don't tell
everybody what peripherals you havehanging off of it.

4.13.11  Useful Subjects

   The `Subject:' line of an article is what will first attract peopleto 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. Forexample:

Good         Subject: Building Emacs on aSun Sparc under 4.1

Good         Subject: Tryin' to find Waldo in NJ.

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

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

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

4.13.12  Tone of Voice

   Since common computers can't portray the inflection or tone ina p erson'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 youUSE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS,
people will think you're "shouting." Write asyou would in a normal letter

Chapter 4: Usenet News                                                   43

to a friend, following traditional rules of English (or whatever language you
happen to speak).

4.13.13  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 STor 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.

4.14  Frequently Asked Questions

   A  number  of  groups  include  Frequently  Asked  Question  (FAQ) lists,
which give the answers toquestions 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 theFAQ for that group.

   Usually, FAQ lists are p osted 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 isalso crossposted to news.answers, which
is used as a Usenet repository for them.

4.14.1  ThePit-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 Usenetgroups.  To access them, FTP to the system and look in the directory`/pub/usenet'.

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

44                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Chapter 5: Telnet                                                          45

5  Telnet

   Telnet is the main Internet protocol for creating a connectionwith 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.

5.1  UsingTelnet

   As with FTP (see Section 3.2.2 [Anonymous FTP], page 21), 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 similarto

     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 ^], andrespond to the
telnet> prompt with the command close. Local documentation should
be checked for information onsp ecific commands,  functions,  and escape
character that can be used.

5.1.1  Telnet Ports

   Many telnet clients also include a third option, the port on whichthe
connection should take place. Normally, port 23is the default telnet port;

46                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

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 givenp ort 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 serverat the University of Michigan (see Sec-
tion 5.5.6 [Geographic Server],page 50). Other such port connections follow
the same usage.

5.2  Publicly AccessibleLibraries

   Over the last several years, mostuniversity libraries have switched from
a manual (card) catalog system to computerized library catalogs.  The au-
tomated systems provide users witheasily accessible and up-to-date infor-
mation 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 cata-
logs 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 so on be outof 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_see Section 9.1 [IRG], page 71 for further information.

   Art  St. George  and  Ron  Larsen  are  maintaining  a  list  of  Internet-
accessible libraries and databases oftenreferred to as "the St. George   di-
rectory."  It  began  with  only  library  catalogs  but  has  expanded  to  in-
clude  sections  on  campus-wide  information  systems,  and  even  bulletin
board  systems  that  are  not  on  the  Internet.   The  library  catalog  sec-
tions are divided into those that are free,  those that charge,  and inter-
national (i.e. non-U.S.) catalogs; they are arranged by state, province, or
country  within  each  section.   There  is  also  a  section  giving  dialup  *
formation  for  some  of  the  library catalogs.   It's  available  for  FTP  (*

Chapter 5: Telnet                                                          47

Section  3.2.2  [Anonymous  FTP], page  21)  on  in  the  di-
rectory `cerfnet/cerfnet_info/library_catalog'.  The file `internet-
catalogs' has a date suffix;check for the most current date. The informa-
tion is updated periodically.

   Billy Barron, Systems Manager at the University of North Texas, pro-
duces a directory as an aid to his usercommunity. 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 informa-
tion.  The arrangement is alphabetic by organization name.  It's available
for FTP on in the subdirectory `library' as the file

   For announcements of new libraries being available and discussion on
related topics, consult the Usenet newsgroup comp.internet.library (see
Chapter 4 [Usenet News], page 29 to learn how to read news).

5.3  The Cleveland Freenet

   Freenets are open-access, free, communitycomputer systems.  One such
system is the Cleveland Freenet, sponsored by CWRU (Case Western Re-
serve University). Anyone and everyone is welcome tojoin 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 member.

   You will need to fill out a form and send it tothem 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 systemas you wish.  They provide multi-user
chat, email, Usenet news, and a variety of other things to keep you occupied
for hours on end.

5.4  Directories

   There are a few systems that are maintained to provide the Internet com-

48                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

munity with access to lists ofinformation_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.

5.4.1  Knowbot

   Knowbot is a "master directory" that contains email address information
from the NIC WHOIS database (see Section6.4.1 [Whois], page 57), the
PSI White Pages Pilot Project, the NYSERNET X.500 database and MCI
Mail. Most of these services are email registries themselves, but Knowb ot
provides a very comfortable way to access all of them in one place. Telnet
to on port 185.

5.4.2  WhitePages

   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.

5.5  Databases

   For  information  on  database  services, see  Section  7.2  [Commercial
Databases], page 60.  Not all databases on the Internetrequire payment
for use, though.  There do exist some, largelyresearch-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 checkwith 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

5.5.1  Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (CARL)

   The Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (CARL), in asso ciation with
CARL Systems Inc., operates a public access catalog of services. Offered are
a number of library databases, includingsearches for government periodi-
cals, book reviews, indices for current articles, and access to to other library

Chapter 5: Telnet                                                          49

databases around the country.  Other services are available to CARL mem-
bers including an online encyclopedia. Telnet to, or write to
`' for more details.

5.5.2  PENpages

   PENpages is an agriculturally-oriented database administered by Penn-
sylvania State University. Information entered into PENpages is provided by
numerous sources including the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture, Rutgers
University,and Penn State.  Easy-to-usemenus guide users to information
ranging from cattle and agricultural prices to current weather information,
from health information to agriculturalnews 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'.

5.5.3  Clemson Univ.  Forestry & Agricultural Network

   Clemson maintains a database similar to PENpages in content, but the
information provided tends to be localized tothe 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).

5.5.4  University of Maryland Info Database

   The Computer Science department of the University of Maryland main-
tains 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 tothose 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, welcom-
ing suggestions for new information,comments on the interface the system
provides, and other related topics. Send mail to
with a body of

     subscribe INFO-L Your Full Name

See Section 2.2.1 [Listservs], page 16 for more information on using the
Listserv system.

50                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

5.5.5  University of Michigan Weather Underground

   The University of Michigan's Department ofAtmospheric, Oceanic, &
Space Sciences maintains a databaseof 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.

5.5.6  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.

5.5.7  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 informa-
tion to colleges, universities, andother research organizations. There are no
registration fees and no access charges for FEDIX whatsoever.

Chapter 5: Telnet                                                          51

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

   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 `fedix'.

5.5.8  Science & Technology Information System

   The STIS is maintained by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and
provides access to many NSFpublications. 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
     (202) 357-7663 (Fax)

5.5.9  OceanNetwork 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

5.5.10  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 avail-
able over computer networks.  NED is an object-oriented database which

52                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

contains extensive informationfor nearly 132,000 extragalactic objects taken
from about major catalogs of galaxies, quasars, infraredand radio sources.
NED provides  positions,  names,  and  other  basic  data  (e.g.  magnitude
types, sizes and redshifts aswell as bibliographic references and abstracts).
Searches can be done by name, around a name, and on an astronomical po-
sition. NED contains a tutorial which guides the user through the retrieval
process. Telnet to ipac.caltech.eduand log in as `ned'.

5.5.11  U.S.Naval Observatory Automated Data Service

   Operated by the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., this au-
tomated data service provides database access to information ranging from
current navigational satellitep ositioning, astronomical data, and software
utilities. A wide variety of databases can be searched andinstructions for
file transfer are given. Telnet to and log in as `ads'.

        "My consciousness suddenly switchedlo cations, 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

Chapter 6: Various Tools                                                   53

6  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 ideasspring 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. See Chapter 7 [Com-
mercial Services], page 59 for applicationsthat are commercially available
over the Internet.

   Usenet is often used to announce a new service or capability on the Inter-
net. 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. See Chapter 4 [Usenet News], page 29 for information on reading

6.1  Finger

   On many systems there exists the `finger' command,which yield infor-
mation 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 lo-
cal system, or `fingerusername' 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):

54                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

     % finger
     Login name: bart                        In real life: Bart Simpson
     Directory: /home/springfield/bart        Shell: /bin/underachiever
     Affiliation: Brotherof 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 usersavailable 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 userreturns with `Connection

6.2  Ping

   The `ping' command allows the user to check ifanother system is cur-
rently "up" and running. The general form of the command is `ping sys-
tem'.1 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 millisec-
onds for a packet to go from Widener to Swarthmore College and back again.


 1 The usage will, again, vary.

Chapter 6: Various Tools                                                   55

It also gives the averageand worst-case speeds, and any packet loss that may
have occurred (e.g. because of network congestion).

   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.

6.3  Talk

   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 at 21:45 ...
     talk: connection requested by
     talk: respond with:  talk

Bart would, presumably, respond by typing `talk'.
They could then chat about whateverthey wished, with instantaneous re-
sponse 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 sure.

   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.

6.4  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 regis-
tered domain (e.g. `') and of registered users. It's primarily used by
system postmasters or listowners to findthe Points of Contact for a site, to

56                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

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)                    MIT.EDU

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

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

        Domain Name: MIT.EDU  ) Domain name

        Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
           Schiller, Jeffrey I.  (JIS)  JIS@MIT.EDU
           (617) 253-8400

        Record last updated on 22-Jun-88.   ) Last change made to the record

        Domain servers in listed order:     ) Systems that can tell you the Int*
                                                     addresses for a site

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

Much better! Now this information (sought, possibly, by a system admin-
istrator) can be used to find out how tonotify 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:

Chapter 6: Various Tools                                                   57

     % whois brendan
     Kehoe, Brendan (BK59)
        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), informationon 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 adminis-
trative or technical contacts for domains are registered automatically when
their domain applications are processed. For normal users, one must sim-
ply fill out a form from the NIC. FTP to nic.ddn.miland get the file
`netinfo/user-template.txt'. The completed form should be mailed to

6.4.1  OtherUses of WHOIS

   Also, many educational sites run WHOIS servers of their own, to offer
information about people who may be currentlyon the staff or attending the
institution. To specify a WHOIS server, many implementations include some
sort of option or qualifier_in VMSunder 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( It is availablevia anonymous
FTP from, in the directory `pub/whois'.  The file is named

   The systems available include, but are certainly not limited to, Syra-
cuse University (, New YorkUniversity (,
the University of California at San Diego (, and Stanford Univer-
sity (

                                           "Fingers were made before forks."
                                         Jonathan Swift, Polite Conversation

58                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Chapter 7: Commercial Services                                          59

7  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.

7.1  ElectronicJournals

   The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) publishes a hard-copy di-
rectory of electronic journals, newsletters, and scholarly discussion lists. It
is a compilation of entries for hundreds of scholarly lists, 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 `LISTSERV@OTTAWA.BITNET'.  See Section 2.2.1 [Listservs],
page 16 for further instructions on using a listserv.

   The directory, along with a compilation by Diane Kovacs called Directo-
ries 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
     (202) 462-7849 (Fax)

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

60                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

7.2  CommercialDatabases

   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' andgive registration information.

7.3  ClarinetNews

   Clarinet's an electronic publishing network servicethat provides profes-
sional news and information, including live UPI wireservice news, in the
Usenet file format. See Chapter 4 [Usenet News], page 29 for more informa-
tion about Usenet.

   Clarinet lets you read an "electronic newspaper" right onthe 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 andother delivery protocols, including NNTP.

   The main feature is ClariNews, an "electronic newspaper," gathered live
from the wire services of United Press International (UPI). ClariNews arti-
cles 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:

  fflClariNews General, the general news"paper" with news, sports, and
     features, averaging about 400 stories per day.

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

  fflClariNews-Biz, business and financial stories.

  fflNewsbytes, a daily computer industry newsmagazine.

  fflSyndicated Columns, including Dave Barry (humor) and Mike Royko

Full information on ClariNet, including subscription information, is available

     Clarinet Communications Corp.
     124 King St. North
     Waterlo o, Ontario  N2J 2X8

Chapter 7: Commercial Services                                          61


or with anonymous FTP in thedirectory `/Clarinet' on (see
Section 3.2.2 [Anonymous FTP], page21).

               "Needless to say, Aristotle did not envisage modern finance."
                                                     Frederick Copleston, S.J.
                                                 A History of Philosophy, v.1

62                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Chapter 8: Things You'll Hear Ab out                                     63

8  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

   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.

8.1  The Internet Worm

   On November 2, 1988, Robert Morris, Jr., a graduate student in Com-
puter  Science  at  Cornell,  wrote  an exp erimental,  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 rein-
fecting 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 realizedwhat was happening,
he contacted a friend at Harvard to discuss a solution. Eventually,they sent
an anonymous message from Harvard over the network, instructing program-
mers how to kill the worm andprevent 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 $53,000.1

   The program took advantage of a hole in the debug mode ofthe Unix
sendmail program, which runs on asystem 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 (see Section6.1 [Finger], page 53).  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-stopto come up with at least a tem-
porary fix, to prevent the continued spread of the worm. After about twelve

 1 Derived in part from a letter by Severo M. Ornstein, in the Communica-

   tions of the ACM, Vol 32 No 6, June 1989.

64                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

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 somany 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 evidencep ointing 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.

8.2  The Cucko o'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

   A 75-cent discrepancy in theLab'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 withthe FBI, the CIA, and the German Bundespost
trying to track his hacker down.

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

8.3  Organizations

   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 "ab ove" user groups; that is to say, they

 2 See the bibliography for full citations.

Chapter 8: Things You'll Hear Ab out                                     65

exist to encourage or promote an idea orset of ideas, rather than support a
specific computer or application of computers.

8.3.1  The Asso ciation for Computing Machinery

   The Association for Computing Machinery (the ACM) wasfounded in
1947, immediately after Eckert and Mauchly unveiled one of the first elec-
tronic 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:

  fflTo advance the sciences and arts of information processing;

  fflTo promote the free interchange of information about the sciences and
     arts of informationpro cessing both among specialists and among the

  fflTo develop and maintain the integrity and competence of individuals
     engaged in the practices of the sciences and arts of information process-

   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 universitiesendorse 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 dis-
counted prices for members of the asso ciation.

   The ACM has a number of Special InterestGroups (SIGs) that concen-
trate on a certain area of computing, ranging from graphicsto 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. SeeChapter 4 [Usenet News], page 29 for more information on
reading news.

   For more information and a membership application, write to:

     Assocation for ComputingMachinery
     New York City, NY  10036

8.3.2  Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility

   The CPSR is an alliance of computer professionals concentrating on cer-

66                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

tain 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 con-
nection 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.3

   The national CPSR program focuses on the following project areas:

  fflReliability and Risk This area reflects on the concern that overreliance
     on computing technology can lead to unacceptable risks to society. It
     includes, but isn'tlimited to, work in analyzing military systems such
     as SDI.

  fflCivil Liberties and Privacy This project is concerned with such top-
     ics as the FBINational Crime Information Center, the growing use of
     databases by both government and private industry,the right of access
     to public information,  extension of FirstAmendment rights to elec-
     tronic communication, and establishing legal protections for privacy of

  fflComputers in the Workplace The CPSR Workplace Project has con-
     centrated itsattention on the design of software for the workplace,and
     particularly on thephilosophy of "participatory design," in which soft-
     ware designerswork together with users to ensure that systems meet
     the actual needs ofthat workplace.

  fflThe 21st Century Pro jectThis 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, contactthem at:

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

8.3.3  The Electronic Frontier Foundation

   The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was established to help civilize

 3 This section is part of the CPSR's letter to prospective memb ers.

Chapter 8: Things You'll Hear Ab out                                     67

the "electronic frontier"_the Cyberspacial medium becoming ever-present
in today's society;to make it truly useful and beneficial not just to a technic*
elite, but to everyone; and to do this in a way which is in keeping with the
society's highest traditions of the freeand open flow of information and

   The mission of the EFF is

  fflto engage in and supp orteducational activities which increase popular
     understanding of theopp ortunities and challenges posed by develop-
     ments in computing and telecommunications;

  fflto develop among p olicy-makers a better understanding of the issues
     underlying free andop entelecommunications, and support the creation
     of legal and structural approaches which will ease the assimilation of
     these new technologies by society;

  fflto 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 technology;

  fflto encourage and supp ortthe development of new tools which will en-
     dow non-technical users with full and easy access to computer-based

   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, eff-talk- and The first is an informal
arena (aka a normal newsgroup)where anyone may voice his or her opinions.
The second,, is a moderatedarea 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 There is also a wealth of information available via anonymous
FTP on

   The EFF can be contacted at


 4 This section was derived from `eff.about', available along with other

   material via anonymous FTP from

68                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

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

8.3.4  The Free Software Foundation

   The Free Software Foundation was started by Richard Stallman (creator
of the popular GNUEmacs 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 asyou.  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.5   Whenit is released,  everyone will be
permitted to copy it and distribute it to others.   Inaddition,  it will be
distributed with source code, so you will b eable to learn about operating
systems by reading it,to port it to your own machine, and to exchangethe
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

8.3.5  The League for Programming Freedom

   The League for Programming Freedom is a grass-ro otsorganization 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 numb er years. The League is not opposed to the le-
gal system that Congress intended-copyright on individual programs. Their

 5 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."

Chapter 8: Things You'll Hear Ab out                                     69

aim is to reverse the recent changes made by judges in response to spe-
cial interests, often explicitly rejecting the public interest principles of the

   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

   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

8.4  Networking Initiatives

   Research and development are two buzz words often heard when dis-
cussing the networking field_everything needs to go faster, over longer dis-
tances, for alower 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.

8.4.1  NREN

   The National Research and Education Network (NREN)  is a five-year
project approved by Congress in theFall 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).  Propo-
nents of the NREN claim it will be possible to transfer the equivalent of
the entire text of the Encyclopedia Britannica in one second. Further infor-
mation, including the original text of the bill presented by Senator Al Gore
(D-TN), is available through anonymous FTP to, in the di-
rectory `nsfnet'. In addition,Vint Cerf wrote on the then-proposed NREN
in RFC-1167, Thoughtson the National Research and Education Network.
See  [RFCs], page 73 for information on obtaining RFCs.

70                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

   A mailing list, `', is available for discussion of
the NREN; write to `' 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, Princeof Abissinia

Chapter 9: Finding Out More                                             71

9  Finding Out More

9.1  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, theguide 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 com-
putational resources, such as supercomputers.  Each entry describes the re-
source, identifies who can use theresource, 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

   The current edition of the IRG is availablevia anonymous FTP from, in the directory `/resource-guide'.

9.2  Requests for Comments

   The internal workings of the Internet are defined by a set of documents
called RFCs (Request for Comments).   The general processfor creating
an RFC is for someone wanting something formalized to write a document
describing the issue and mailing it to Jon Postel (  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, direc-
tional,  informational and obsolete.  Required RFCs (e.g.,  RFC-791,  The
Internet Protocol) must be implemented on any host connected to the In-

   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

72                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

   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 OfficeProtocol ) orthat,  al-
though technically superior, ran against other pervasive approaches (RFC-
891, Hello). It is suggested that, should the facility be required by a par-
ticular site, an implementationb e done in accordance with the RFC. This
ensures that, should the idea be one whose time has come, the implementa-
tion will be in accordance with some standardand will be generally usable.

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

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

   Finally, as the Internet has grown and technologyhas changed, some
RFCs become unnecessary. These obsolete RFCs cannot be ignored,how-
ever. Frequently when a change is made to some RFC that causes a new
one to obsolete others,the new RFC only contains explanationsand motiva-
tions for the change. Understanding the model on which thewhole 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:

  fflThe archive, as `/rfc/rfc-xxxx.txt', where xxxx is the
     number of theRFC.

  fflfrom, inthe directory `/RFC'.

   They're also available through mail by writing to,
with a `Subject:' line of sendRFC-xxxx.TXT, again with xxxx being the
RFC number. To learnab out archive servers,  [Archive Servers], page 77.)

           "Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, orwe
                               know where we can find information upon it."
                                                              Samuel Johnson
                                                   Letter toLord Chesterfield
                                                                February, 1755

Conclusion                                                                 73


   This guide is far from complete_the Internet changeson a daily (if not
hourly) basis.  However, this booklet should provide enough information
to make the incredible breadth andcomplexity 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 to:

     Department ofComputer Science
     Chester, PA 19013

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 `' to be placedon a mailing list for such

                          "I've seed de first an de last : :I:seed de beginnin,
                                                      en now I sees de endin."
                                                      The Sound & The Fury
                                                                 April 8, 1928

74                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Appendix A: Getting to Other Networks                                  75

Appendix A  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:

AppleLink    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
ATTMail      AT&T  sells a commercial email service called ATTMail.  Its
             users can be reached by writing to `'.
BIX          Users on BIX(the Byte Information eXchange) can be reached
             through theDAS gateway at `'.
CompuServe (CI$)

             To reach a user on the commercial service CompuServe, you
             must address  the  mail  as,  with
    being their CompuServe user ID. Normally Com-
             puServe ids are represented as being separated by a comma (like
             71999,141);since most mailers don't react well to having com-
             mas in addresses,  it was changed to a period.  For the above
             address, mail would be sent to `'.
EasyNet      Digital sells a service called EasyNet; users that subscribe to it
             can be reached with the addresses or
FidoNet      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
             `' (notice how the num-
             bers fall in place?).
MCI Mail     MCIalso sells email accounts (similar to ATTMail). Users can
             be reached with `user'.
PeaceNet     Users on thePeaceNet network can be reached by writing to

   This table is far from complete.  In addition to sitesnot b eing listed,
some services are not (nor do they planto b e)accessible from the "outside"
(like Prodigy); others, likeGEnie, 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; see Section 3.2.2 [Anonymous FTP], page 21,
for more information on getting a copy of it using anonymous FTP.

76                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Appendix B: Retrieving Files via Email                                   77

Appendix B  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 re-
questing 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 theserver has available.

   One such archive server is `'.  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 (see Section6.4.1
[Whois], page 57).  Some sample `Subject:' linesfor queries to the NIC
server are:

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

   More information on using their archive servercan be obtained by writing
to their server address 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 ona system.

FTP-by-Mail Servers

   Some systems offer people the ability to receive files through a mock-
FTP interface via email. See Section 3.2.2 [Anonymous FTP], page 21 for

78                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

a general overview of howto 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, isavailable to BITNET
users from the Princeton node PUCC. It was once accessible to anyone, but
had to be closed out to non-BITNETusers because of the heavy load on the

   In response to this closure, Paul Vixie designed and installed asystem
called FTPmail on one of Digital's gateway computers,
Write to `' 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 also.

Appendix C: Newsgroup Creation                                         79

Appendix C  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


   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 moder-
ated. 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 willgive you the opportunity to
have the moderator correct anyinconsistencies 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 theactual 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 `'.

   The final name and charter of the group, and whether it will be moderated
or unmoderated, will be determined duringthe 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 andcome 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

80                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Call For Votes (CFV) shouldb e postedto news.announce.newgroups, along
with any other groups that the original Request For Discussion was posted
to. The CFVshould 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 equivalentdifficulty 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 comein 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, pro-
vided 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 char-
ter 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 onit, 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 sortit 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 mo derators.

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

Appendix C: Newsgroup Creation                                         81

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 makeclear which way a person voted, so the
results can be verified if it proves necessary to do so.

   After the vote result is posted to news.announce.newgroups,there is a
mandatory five-day waiting p erio d. 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 *
100 more valid `YES/create' votes than `NO/don't' create votes, and at
least two-thirds of the totalnumber 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 per-
centage 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  *
riod (a "cooling down"), a new Request For Discussion can be posted to
news.groups, and the whole pro cess 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 stepback and accept the opinion of the majority. (As
life goes, so goes Usenet.)

82                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Glossary                                                                   83


   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, whichis based on a VERY large text file called theJargon File.
Edited by Eric Raymond (, 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 `meta-
communication', andthere are literally hundreds of them, from the obvious
to the obscure.  This particular exampleexpresses "happiness."  Don't see
it?  Tilt your head to the left 90degrees.  Smilies are also used to denote

   address resolution  Conversion of an Internet address to the correspond-
ing physical address. On an ethernet, resolution requires broadcasting on
the local area network.

   administrivia  Administrative tasks, most often related to the mainte-
nance 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_see Section 3.2.2 [Anony-
mous FTP], page 21.

   ANSI  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 De-
partment, 1430 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, or by telephoning (212)

   archie  A service which provides lookups for packages in a database of
the offerings of countless of anonymous FTP sites. See Section 3.3.1 [archie],
page 25 for a full description.

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

   ARPA (AdvancedResearch Projects Agency)  Former name of DARPA,
the government agency that funded ARPAnet and later the DARPAInter-

84                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

   ARPAnet  A pioneering long haul network funded by ARPA. It served
as the basis for early networking research as well as a central backbone dur-
ing 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.

   asynchronous  Transmission byindividual bytes, not related to specific
timing on the transmitting end.

   auto-magic  Something which happens pseudo-automatically, and is usu-
ally  too  complex  to  go  into  any  further  than  to  say  it  happens  "au*

   backbone   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).

   bandwidth  The capacity of a medium to transmit a signal. More infor-
mally, 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, forexample) as a "waste of bandwidth" and
look down upon them.

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

   bounce  The return of a piece of mailb ecause of an error in its delivery.

   btw  An abbreviation for "by the way."

   CFV (Call For Votes) Initiates the voting period for a Usenet newsgroup.
At least one (occasionally twoor more) email address is customarily included
as a repository for the votes. See See Appendix C [Newsgroup Creation],
page 79 for a full description of the Usenet voting process.

   ClariNews  Thefee-based Usenet newsfeed available from ClariNet Com-

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

   Cyberspace  A term coined by William Gibson in his fantasy novel Neu-
romancer to describe the "world" of computers, and the society that gathers
around them.

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

   disassembling  Converting a binary program into human-readable ma-
chine language code.

Glossary                                                                   85

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

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

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

   email  The vernacular abbreviation for electronic mail.

   email address The UUCP or domain-based address that auser is referred
to with. For example, the author's address is

   ethernet A 10-million bit per second networking scheme originally devel-
oped 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 frommany commercial sources.

   FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface)  An emerging standard fornet-
work 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 technology.

   flame  A piece of mail or a Usenet posting which is violently argumenta-

   FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name)  The FQDN isthe 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 computerto another.

   FYI 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.
See  [RFCs], page 73 for instructions on retrieving FYIs.

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

   header  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.

   hostname  The name given toa machine. (See also FQDN.)

   IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) This usually accompanies a statement

86                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

that may bring about personal offense or strong disagreement.

   Internet  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 sys-
tem. The Internet number for thesite is
A resolver is used to translate between hostnames and Internet addresses.

   interoperate  The ability of multi-vendor computers to work together
using a common set of protocols. With interoperability, PCs, Macs, Suns,
Dec VAXen, CDCCybers, 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 thatare put into use today.

   kernel  The level ofan operating system or networking system that con-
tains the system-level commands orall 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,  andsystem calls.  This
program is always running while the system is operating.

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

   mail gateway  A machine that connectsto two or more electronic mail
systems (especially dissimilar mail systems ontwo 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 dis-

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

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

   multiplex  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 SMTPconnections,
all going at the same time.

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

   netiquette  A  pun on "etiquette";  proper behavior on TheNet.   See
Section 4.13 [Usenet Netiquette], page 37.

Glossary                                                                   87

   network  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.

   NIC  The Network Information Center.

   node  A computer that is attachedto a network; also called a host.

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

   packet 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.

   polling  Connecting to another system to check for things like mail or

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

   protocols  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 acrossa wire) or high-level exchanges between allo-
cation programs (e.g., the way in which two programs transfer a file across
the Internet).

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

   resolve 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 newsgroupcreation are battled out.

   route  The path that network traffic takes from its source to its destina-

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

   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 muchmore vulgar.

88                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

   SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)  The Internet standard proto-
col for transferring electronic mail messages from one computer to another.
SMTP specifies how two mail systemsinteract and the format of control
messages they exchange to transfermail.

   server  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 computers.

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

   signature The small, usually four-line message at theb ottom 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.

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

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

   TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Proto col)  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).

   telnet  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'sterminal were connected directly to
the remote computer.

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

   TEX  A free typesettingsystem by Donald Knuth.

   twisted pair  Cablemade 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, pri-
marily for Unix systems but currently supported on other platforms (e.g.
VMS and personal computers).

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

   workstation  A networked personal computing device with more power

Glossary                                                                   89

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 Sunworkstations and Digital DECstations.

   worm  A computer program which replicates itself.  The Internet worm
(see Section 8.1 [The Internet Worm], page 63) was perhaps the most fa-
mous; it successfully (and accidentally) duplicated itself on systems across
the Internet.

   wrt  With respect to.

                                                          "I hate definitions."
                                                            Benjamin Disraeli
                                                     Vivian Grey, bk i chapii

90                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Bibliography                                                               91


   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. (1991). Internetworking With TCP/IP, 2nd ed., 2v.
Prentice Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

   Davidson, John (1988).  An Introduction to TCP/IP. Springer-Verlag:

   Frey, Donnalyn, and Adams, Rick (1989).  !@%::  A Directory of Elec-
tronic Mail Addressing and Networks.  O'Reilly and Associates:  Newton,

   Gibson, William (1984).  Neuromancer. Ace: New York, NY.

   LaQuey, Tracy(1990).  Users' Directory of Computer Networks. Digital
Press: Bedford, MA.

   Levy, Stephen (1984).   Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution.
Anchor Press/Doubleday: Garden City, NY.

   Partridge, Craig  (1988).  Innovations  in  Internetworking.  ARTECH
House: Norwood, MA.

   Quarterman, John S. (1989). The Matrix: Computer Networks and Con-
ferencing Systems Worldwide. Digital Press: Bedford, MA.

   Raymond, Eric (ed) (1991). The New Hacker's Dictionary. MIT Press:
Cambridge, MA.

   Stoll, Clifford (1989).  The Cuckoo's Egg. Doubleday: New York.

   Tanenbaum, Andrew S. (1988).  Computer Networks, 2d ed.  Prentice-
Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

   Todinao, Grace (1986). Using UUCP and USENET: A Nutshell Hand-
book. O'Reilly and Asso ciates: Newton, MA.

   The Waite Group (1991).  Unix Communications, 2nd ed.. Howard W.
Sams & Company: Indianapolis.

92                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Periodicals & Papers

   Barlow, J. Coming Into The Country. Communications of the ACM34:3
(March 1991): 2.  Addresses "Cyberspace"_John Barlow was a co-founder
of the EFF.

   Collyer, G., and Spencer, H. News Need Not Be Slow. Proceedings of the
1987 Winter USENIX Conference: 181-90. USENIX Association, Berkeley,
CA (January 1987).

   Denning, P. The Internet Worm. American Scientist (March-April 1989):

   ________.The Science of Computing: Computer Networks. American Sci-
entist (March-April 1985): 127-129.

   Frey, D., and Adams, R. USENET:Death by Success? UNIX REVIEW
(August 1987): 55-60.

   Gifford, W. S. ISDN User-Network Interfaces. IEEE Journal on Selected
Areas in Communications (May 1986): 343-348.

   Ginsberg, K. Getting from Here to There. UNIX REVIEW (January
1986): 45.

   Hiltz, S. R. The Human Elementin Computerized Conferencing Systems.
Computer Networks (December 1978): 421-428.

   Horton, M. What is a Domain? Proceedings of the Summer 1984 USENIX
Conference: 368-372.USENIX Association, Berkeley, CA (June 1984).

   Jacobsen, Ole J. Information on TCP/IP. ConneXions_The Interoper-
ability Report (July 1988): 14-15.

   Jennings,  D.,  et  al.  Computer  Networking  for Scientists.  Science  (28
February1986): 943-950.

   Markoff, J. "Author of computer `virus'is son of U.S. electronic security
expert." New York Times (Nov.  5, 1988): A1.

   ________."Computer snarl: A `back door' ajar." New York Times (Nov.
7, 1988): B10.

   McQuillan, J. M., and Walden, D. C. The ARPA Network Design Deci-
sions. Computer Networks (1977):  243-289.

   Ornstein, S. M. A letterconcerning the Internet worm. Communications
of the ACM 32:6 (June 1989).

   Partridge, C. Mail Routing Using Domain Names: An Informal Tour.
Proceedings of the 1986 Summer USENIX Conference: 366-76. USENIX As-
sociation, Berkeley, CA (June 1986).

Bibliography                                                               93

   Quarterman, J. Etiquette and Ethics. ConneXions_The Interoperability
Report (March 1989): 12-16.

   ________.Notable Computer Networks. Communications of theACM 29:10
(October 1986).  This was the predecessor to The Matrix.

   Raeder, A. W., and Andrews, K. L. Searching Library Catalogs on the
Internet: A Survey.Database Searcher 6 (September 1990): 16-31.

   Seeley, D. A tour of the worm. Proceedings of the 1989 Winter USENIX
Conference: 287-304.USENIX Association, Berkeley, CA (February 1989).

   Shulman, G. Legal Research on USENET Liability Issues. ;login:  The
USENIX Association Newsletter (December 1984): 11-17.

   Smith, K. E-Mail to Anywhere. PC World (March 1988): 220-223.

   Stoll, C. Stalking the Wily Hacker. Communications of the ACM 31:5
(May 1988): 14.  This article grew into the book The Cuckoo's Egg.

   Taylor, D. The Postman Always Rings Twice: Electronic Mail in a Highly
Distributed Environment. Proceedings of the 1988 Winter USENIX Confer-
ence: 145-153. USENIX Association, Berkeley, CA (December 1988).

   U.S. Gen'l Accounting Ofc. Computer Security: Virus Highlights Need for
Improved Internet Management. GAO / IMTEC - 89 - 57, (1989).Addresses
the Internet worm.

                                                   "And all else isliterature."
                                                          The Sun, New York

94                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

Index                                                                       95


ACM                                    65
address, email                 11, 14, 38
address, IP (Internet)          7, 20, 47
administrivia                       15,83
ANSI                                   83
AppleLink                              75
archie                             25, 26
archiveservers                     11, 72
ARL                                    59

bang path                              11
BITFTP                                 78
BITNET                                  8
book bugs                              73
bounce, mail delivery                  14

CARL                               46, 48
Clarinet                               60
CompuServe                             75
CPSR                                   65
crossposting                           41
Cyberspace              1, 63, 64, 67, 84

databases                              60
domains                 5, 11, 14, 56, 85

EFF                                    66
EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation)    6 
Electronic Mail                        11
extragalactic database                 51

FAQs                                   43
FEDIX                                  50
finger                             53, 63
FQDN                                 6, 7
Freenet                                47
FSF (Free SoftwareFoundation)          68
FTPable Items  16, 17, 43, 47, 57, 67, 75

96                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

gateway,mail-news              35, 37, 75
GNU Project                            68

headers                                13
help,with archie                       26
help, with FTPmail                     78
help, with geo server                  50
help, with listservs                   17

InternetInumber                         7
Internet worm                      63, 89
IRG (Internet Resource Guide)          71

journals                               59

Knowbot                                48

leased line                             9
libraries                      27, 46, 71
listserv                   16, 17, 49, 59
LPF                                    68

mailing list                           15
MCI Mail                               75
minority scholarships                  50
moderation, of newsgroups  34, 35, 79, 80
Morris, Robert (Jr.)                   63

97                                           Zen and the Art of the Internet

NED                                    51
newsgroups, for testing                39
NJE protocol, for BITNET                8  
NNTP                               36, 60
Nutshell Books                         12

OCEANIC                                51
octet                                   7

ping                                   54
postmaster                  15, 16, 56,87

quotes, stock                          60

resolving                       7, 20, 86
RFC-822, email format                  13
RFCs (Requests for Comments)       37, 71

security                               54
signature files                        37
SLIP links, modem-based IP          9, 19
STIS                                   51
Stoll, Cliff                           64
subnet                                  7
Sun Managers                           15

talk                                   55

UUCP            8, 11, 13, 36, 60, 73, 85
UUNET                              20, 32

Weather                                50
White Pages Pilot Project              48
WHOIS databases                        55

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Created: 1997
Last Updated: May 28, 2000