Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate

Guide to the Internet: Logging in, fetching files, reading news

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 16 December 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1626
  1. Mark Pallen (
  1. a Department of Medical Microbiology, St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, London EC1A 7BE
  1. Correspondence to:

    Aside from email and the world wide web, there are several other systems for distributing information on the Internet. Telnet is a system that allows you to log on to a remote computer from anywhere on the Internet and affords access to many useful biomedical sites on the Internet. File transfer protocol (FTP) is a method of transferring files from one computer to another over the Internet. It can be used to download files, including software, from numerous publicly accessible “anonymous FTP archives” around the world. Such archives can be searched using a tool known as Archie. Network News is a system of electronic discussion groups covering almost every imaginable subject, including many areas of medicine and the biomedical sciences; MOOs are virtual environments that allow real time electronic conferencing and teaching over the Internet. It is difficult to predict the future of medicine on the Internet. However, the net opens up many possibilities not available through previous technologies. It is now up to medical practitioners to realise the Internet's full potential.


    Telnet is a tool that allows you to use a remote computer on the Internet as if your computer were a terminal directly connected to it 1. The principal use of telnet is to manipulate files and run programs on a UNIX computer where you have an account. To create a telnet connection between your microcomputer and a UNIX machine elsewhere on the Internet, you need telnet client software such as NCSA Telnet for the Mac or DOS. You must supply the telnet program with the Internet address of the remote machine, then supply the remote machine with your login name and password.

    Fig 1

    A typical telnet session

    There are several open access sites on the Internet where anyone can log in via telnet (table) by using a …

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