FTP (``File Transfer Protocol'') is the set of programs that are used for transferring files between systems on the Internet. Most UNIX, VMS, and MS-DOS systems on the Internet have a program called ftp which you use to transfer these files, and if you have Internet access, the best way to download the Linux software is by using ftp. This appendix covers basic ftp usage---of course, there are many more functions and uses of ftp than are given here.
At the end of this appendix there is a listing of FTP sites where Linux software can be found. Also, if you don't have direct Internet access but are able to exchange electronic mail with the Internet, information on using the ftpmail service is included below.
If you're using an MS-DOS, UNIX, or VMS system to download files from the Internet, then ftp is a command-driven program. However, there are other implementations of ftp out there, such as the Macintosh version (called Fetch) with a nice menu-driven interface, which is quite self-explanatory. Even if you're not using the command-driven version of ftp, the information given here should help.
ftp can be used to both upload (send) or download (receive) files from other Internet sites. In most situations, you're going to be downloading software. On the Internet there are a large number of publicly-available FTP archive sites, machines which allow anyone to ftp to them and download free software. One such archive site is sunsite.unc.edu, which has a lot of Sun Microsystems software, and acts as one of the main Linux sites. In addition, FTP archive sites mirror software to each other---that is, software uploaded to one site will be automatically copied over to a number of other sites. So don't be surprised if you see the exact same files on many different archive sites.