TheLinuxGurus.org: Automating FTP

[ Thanks to David Culp
for this link. ]

“FTP, which stands for File Transfer Protocol, is a very
powerful way to transfer files from one computer system to another.
Even if you don’t know it, you probably have used it. If you have
clicked on a file in your browser to download it from a website
then it was probably transfered via FTP ( though it doesn’t have to
be). There are currently a slew of graphical FTP utilities to make
the tedious effort of typing in those FTP commands easier.
Personally, I prefer FTP from the command line, all those GUI
FTP clients are really cool looking but you lose one of FTPs most
powerful abilities, the ability to automate FTP. In other words,
the ability to make a connection, transfer files and break the
connection without you even being around.

“Exactly why would this be a good idea? OK, let us say you work
in an office, and everyday you have to download the days financial
report, do some form of processing on it and re-upload it. Would it
not be nice to automate this task to be performed even if you are
not there. Take for instance my situation, in addition to running
this website (I know I don’t do a good job, so sue me) I have a
more than full time job of teaching science. On the front page of
the site is Linux related news which I currently have to constantly
peruse news sites looking for interesting news to post. This takes
a lot of time and effort of which I do not always have either to
spare. Most of the news sites (including the best Linux news site,
Linux Today) have a back-end file you can download, parse and then
post. However, most stipulate that you only download the file once
every half hour, so that eliminates writing a dynamic CGI script
that gets called every time a page loads. However, by writing a
short script to grab the back-end files, parsing them and uploading
them to my server via automating FTP and putting the whole system
on a cron my problem is solved. Note: I have not finished
implementing this system yet.”

“The way to automate FTP is through the .netrc file. You can use
any standard text editor such as vi, emacs or a GUI editor to edit


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