Archie FAQ

What is ARCHIE
Archie is a service which helps  users to locate files and direc-
tories on anonymous FTP servers anywhere on the Internet.

Administrators all over the world  register anonymous FTP servers
with the archie service;  once a  month the archie service runs a
program which  scans the directories  and filenames  contained in
each of the registered FTP servers,  and generates a grand merged
list of all the files and directories contained in all the regis-
tered servers.  More than 1000 anonymous FTP sites are now repre-
sented in this list, which is referred to as the archie database.
The archie database currently contains  more than 2,100,000 file-

The archie database is made  available on several archie servers,
all of which contain the same information.

Administrators can also  provide a short description  of software
packages contained in the files or directories at their site, but
do not have to do so.  The descriptions may or may not be kept up
to date: there is no pressure on administrators to do this.

Files  made available  at anonymous  FTP  sites contain  software
packages for various systems (Windows, MS-DOS,  Macintosh,  Unix,
etc.), utilities, information or documentation,  mailing lists or
Usenet group discussion archives. At most FTP sites, the resourc-
es are  organized hierarchically  in directories  and subdirecto-
ries.  The archie  database contains both the  directory path and
the file names.

Who can use ARCHIE
The archie  database is available to  all users of  the Internet,
and can  also be accessed via  electronic mail.  See  the section
Using ARCHIE below for details.

How to get to ARCHIE
The archie database is maintained in the following locations:

|                                                               |
|  Host                       Country                           |
|                                                               |
|                  Australia                         |
| Austria                           |
|        Austria                           |
|             Canada                            |
|            Finland                           |
|     Germany                           |
|        Great-Britain                     |
|               Israel                            |
|            Italy                             |
|  Japan                             |
|          Japan                             |
|                  Korea                             |
|        Korea                             |
|                  New Zealand                       |
|          Spain                             |
|             Sweden                            |
|           Switzerland                       |
|          Taiwan                            |
|             USA                               |
|        USA                               |
|         USA                               |
|            USA                               |
|             USA                               |
|                                                               |

There are three ways to access  the archie database:  via a local
client, interactive Telnet session or electronic mail.  Each type
of access is described below in the Using ARCHIE section.

You are requested to respect a few  basic rules when you look for
information on an archie server:
*   avoid connecting  during working hours;   most of  the archie
    servers are  not dedicated machines  - they have  local func-
    tions as well.
*   make your queries as specific as possible;  the response will
    be quicker and shorter.
*   user interfaces installed on your computer help to reduce the
    load on the server sites, so please use them.
*   use the  archie server  closest to  you and,   in particular,
    don't overload the transatlantic lines.

The three  ways of  accessing the archie  database,  via  a local
client,  via  an interactive Telnet  session or  using electronic
mail, are described below.

Note that version 3.0 of the archie server is now available,  and
some of the commands for interactive access and the e-mail inter-
face are slightly different from  previous versions of the server
(2.11 and earlier).  Command formats marked with a (+)  are valid
in version 3.0 only, those marked with a (*)  are acceptable only
in previous versions.    You can use the version  command to find
out which version is installed at any particular server.

Using a local client:
You  are encouraged  to use  a  local archie  client because  the
archie server does not then have  to provide you with an interac-
tive interface:   requests  from your local client  to the archie
server will  be non-interactive,  and will  thus place less  of a
burden on the server.   Server  performance will be increased and
response time will improve for all users.

Public domain clients for accessing  archie servers are available
for:   Macintosh, MS-DOS,  OS/2,  VMS,  NeXT,  Unix and X-Windows
system. All these platforms support a simple command line client;
the xarchie client for the  X-Windows system provides a graphical
user interface.  The clients are  available from the archie sites
using   anonymous    FTP,    and    are   in    the   directories
/pub/archie/clients or /archie/clients.

Archie client command and parameters
A graphical  interface (GUI),  enables  you to access  the archie
functions  by pressing  mouse  buttons in  order  to select  menu

Archie clients written for use without a graphical user interface
require you  to type in the  command archie,  followed by  one or
more parameters.  If you omit the parameters you are given a list
of the possible parameters with a  short description of each one.
A  description of  the parameters  is given  below,  where  angle
brackets (<>)  indicate an optional  parameter and a vertical bar
(|) indicates a choice of parameters.

|                                                               |
|  archie    <-parameters> string | pattern                     |
|                                                               |

where the optional parameters are:
o     specifies an  output file  name to  store the  results (not
      available with all clients).
l     lists the result one match per line.  This form is suitable
      for parsing by programs.
t     sorts the result by date.
m#    specifies maximum number of matches to return (# within the
      range 0 to 1000). The default value is 95.
h archie-server
      specifies  which archie  server should  be  used;  if  this
      parameter is not given,  then the query will be sent to the
      default archie server, if one is defined.
L     lists known servers and current default server.

The following group of optional parameters determines the kind of
search performed on the database. They are mutually exclusive.
s     a match occurs if the  file/directory name contains string.
      The search is case insensitive.
c     as above, but the search is case sensitive.
e     string  must  EXACTLY  match (including  case)   the  file/
      directory name in the database.  This is the DEFAULT search
r     searches the  database using pattern.  It  contains special
      characters which must be  interpreted before performing the

There may  be slight  differences in  the options  available with
different clients on different platforms.

The result is a list of FTP site addresses which contain files or
directories matching the argument,  together with the size of the
file,  its last modification date and its directory.  By default,
the list  is sorted  by host address.   See the  Examples section
below for an example of archie output.

Using Telnet:
You can use  Telnet to connect to an  archie server interactively
(see the  list of  servers in the  section How  to get  to ARCHIE
above).   At the login: prompt enter archie.  The login procedure
leaves the user at the prompt  archie> indicating that the server
is ready for user requests.

Archie servers respond to the commands listed below; the way they
respond  can be  defined using  the special  command set,   which
changes the values of a set of  variables described at the end of
this section.

The following commands are available:
exit, quit, bye
               exits archie.
               invokes the  on-line help.   If a  command-name is
               given, the help request is restricted to that com-
               mand.  Pressing the RETURN key  exits from the on-
               line help.
               provides a list of the FTP servers in the database
               and the time at which they were last updated.  The
               result is a list of site  names,  with the site IP
               address and date  of the last update  in the data-
               base.  The  optional parameter limits the  list to
               sites matching pattern:   the command list with no
               pattern will list all sites  in the database (more
               than 1000 sites!). E.g.
                    list \.de$
               will list all German sites
site(*)  site-name
               lists the  directories and subdirectories  held in
               the  database from  a  particular site-name.   The
               result may be very long.
whatis  string searches the database of software package descrip-
               tions for string. The search is case-insensitive.
prog  string  |  pattern
find(+)  string  |  pattern
               searches  the  database  for  string  or  pattern.
               Searches may be performed in a number of different
               ways specified in the variable search,  which also
               determines whether  the parameter is treated  as a
               string or as a pattern. The search produces a list
               of  FTP  site addresses  which  contain  filenames
               matching the pattern or containing the string, the
               size of the file,  its  last modification date and
               its directory path.  The number of matches is lim-
               ited by  the maxhits  variable.  The  list can  be
               sorted in different ways,   depending on the value
               of the sortby variable.  By default, the variables
               search, maxhits and sortby are set to, respective-
               ly,  exact match search on  string,  1000 hits and
               unsorted resulting list.  A  search can be aborted
               by typing  the keyboard interrupt  character;  the
               list produced at that point will be displayed. See
               the Examples section  below for an example  of the
               prog command and its results.
mail    <,email2...>
               places the  result of the  last command in  a mail
               message    and   dispatches    specified    e-mail
               address(es).  If no mail address is specified as a
               parameter, the result is sent to the address spec-
               ified in the variable mailto.
               displays  the value  of  the  given variable.   If
               issued with  no argument,   it displays  all vari-
               ables.  The archie variables  are shown below with
               the details of the set command.
set  variable  value
               changes the  value of  the specified  archie vari-
               able.  The variables specify how other archie com-
               mands should operate.
Variables and values are:
compress(+)  compress-method
               specifies  the compression  method  (none or  com-
               press) to be used before mailing a result with the
               mail command. The default is none.
encode(+)  encode-method
               specifies the  encoding method (none  or uuencode)
               to be used  before mailing a result  with the mail
               command.  This variable is  ignored if compress is
               not set. The default is none.
mailto  email  <,email2 ...>
               specifies the e-mail address(es)   to be used when
               the mail command is issued with no arguments.
maxhits  number
               specifies the maximum number  of matches prog will
               generate (within the range 0 to 1000). The default
               value is 1000.
search  search-value
               determines  the kind  of search  performed on  the
               database by  the command:  prog string  | pattern.
               search-values are:
               sub    a partial  and case  insensitive search  is
                      performed  with  string  on  the  database,
                      "is" will match "islington" and "this" and
                      as above but the  search is case sensitive,
                      "TeX" will match "LaTeX" but not "Latex"
               exact  the parameter of prog (string) must EXACTLY
                      match the string in the database (including
                      case).  The  fastest search method  of all,
                      and the default.
               regex  pattern is  used as a Unix  regular expres-
                      sion to match filenames during the database
               sortby  sort-value
                      describes how  to sort the result  of prog.
                      sort-values are:
                      hostname on the FTP site address in lexical
                      time     by  the modification  date,   most
                               recent first.
                      size     by the size of the files or direc-
                               tories in the list, largest first.
                      filename on file or directory name in lexi-
                               cal order.
                      none     unsorted (default)
                      Reverse sorts  can be  carried out  by pre-
                      pending r  to the sortby value  given (e.g.
                      rhostname instead of hostname).
               term  terminal-type   >
                      tells the archie server what type of termi-
                      nal you are using,  and optionally its size
                      in rows and columns, e.g.:
                           set term xterm 24 100

Using electronic mail:
Users  limited to  electronic mail  connectivity  can access  the
archie servers. The domain addresses of the servers are listed in
the section How to get to ARCHIE (e.g.

The electronic  mail interface to  an archie server  recognizes a
subset  of the  commands described  in Using  Telnet.  These  are
described below.  An  empty message,  or a  message containing no
valid requests, is treated as a help request.

Archie commands  are sent in the  body part of the  mail message,
but the Subject: line is processed as if it were part of the main
body.  Command lines begin in the first column; all lines that do
not match a valid command are ignored.

help      sends you the help file. The help command is exclusive,
          so other commands in the same message are ignored.
path  return-address
set mailto(+)  return-address
          specifies a  return e-mail address different  from that
          which is extracted from the  message header.  If you do
          not receive a reply from  the archie server within sev-
          eral hours,   you might need to  add a path  command to
          your message request.
list  pattern  
          requests a list of the sites in the database that match
          pattern, with the time at which they were last updated.
          The result is a list with site names, sites IP address-
          es and date of each site's last update in the database.
site(*)  site-name
          lists the  directories and subdirectories  of site-name
          in the database.
whatis  string  
          searches the descriptions of software packages for each
          string. The search is case insensitive.
prog  pattern  
find(+)  pattern  
          uses pattern as a Unix regular expression to be matched
          when searching the database.   If multiple patterns are
          placed on one line,  the results will be mailed back in
          one message. If several lines are sent, each containing
          a  prog  command,   then   multiple  messages  will  be
          returned, one for each prog line. Results are sorted by
          FTP site address in lexical order.  If pattern contains
          spaces, it must be quoted with single (') or double (")
          quotes. The search is case insensitive.
          causes the  result of  the current  request to  be com-
          pressed and uuencoded.  When you receive the reply, you
          should run it through uudecode,   to produce a .Z file.
          You can then run uncompress on  the .Z file and get the
          result of your request.
set compress(+)  compress-method
          specifies the compression method (none or compress)  to
          be  used  before  mailing the  result  of  the  current
          request. The default is none.
set encode(+)  encode-method
          specifies the encoding method (none or uuencode)  to be
          used before mailing the result  of the current request.
          This variable is  ignored if compress is  not set.  The
          default is none.
      Note:  set compress compress and set encode uuencode
          would produce  the same result  as the  former compress
quit      nothing past  this point is  interpreted.  Useful  if a
          signature is automatically appended at  the end of your
          mail messages.

Description of pattern
A pattern is a specification of a character string which includes
characters which take a special  meaning.  The special meaning is
lost when "\" is put before the character. The special characters

.         (period)    this   is  the   wildcard   character  that
          replaces any single character,  e.g.  "...." will match
          any 4-character string.
    (caret)  if  "" appears at  the beginning  of the
          pattern, then only strings which start with the substr-
          ing following the "" will  match the pattern.  If
          the substring  occurs anywhere  else in  the string  it
          does not match the pattern, e.g.:
               "efghi" will match "efghi" or "efghijlk" but
               not "abcefghi"
$         (dollar) if "$" appears at the end of the pattern, then
          the searched string must end with the substring preced-
          ing the "$".  If the  substring occurs anywhere else in
          the searched  string,  it is  not considered  to match,
                      "efghi$" will match "efghi" or "abcdefghi" but not
If you are using an archie client, and enter the command:
     archie -s eudora
or if you send,  by e-mail or  during a Telnet session,  the com-
     prog eudora
     find eudora
then archie will send you the following results:

Host    (
Last updated 03:38  8 Aug 1993
 Location: /pub/MAC
   DIRECTORY  drwxrwxr-x 2048 bytes 00:00  6 May 1992  eudora
Host    (
Last updated 03:38  8 Aug 1993
 Location: /pub/MAC/eudora
   FILE  -r--r--r-- 281139 bytes 00:00 21 Oct 1991  eudo-
Host    (
Last updated 04:53  9 Aug 1993
 Location: /pub/NetNews/comp.binaries.mac
   FILE  -rw-r--r-- 438 bytes 12:04 10 Jul 1993  Eudora1.3.readme
Host    (
Last updated 04:53  9 Aug 1993
 Location: /pub/NetNews/comp.binaries.mac
   FILE  -rw-r--r-- 278912 bytes 12:04 10 Jul 1993  Eudo-

If you send the command list \.de$  by e-mail or in a Telnet ses-
sion, then you will get the following results:  12:31  8 Aug 1993  12:25  8 Aug 1993   15:21  6 Aug 1993     00:18 31 Jul 1993  12:10  8 Aug 1993        16:08 31 Jul 1993

If you send the command whatis compression by e-mail or in a Tel-
net session, then you will get the following results:

RFC 468      Braden, R.T. FTP data compression 1973 March 8; 5p.
arc          PC compression program
deltac       Image compression using delta modulation
spl          Splay tree compression routines
squeeze      A file compression program
uncrunch     Uncompression program
unsqueeze    Uncompression programs

Learning more about ARCHIE
However you communicate with the  archie server,  on-line help is

If you  have any  questions about  archie,  write  to the  Archie
Group, Bunyip Information Systems Inc. at

Bug reports,  comments,  suggestions,  etc.   should be mailed to  In addition, the database administrator
at   a   particular   archie   server   can   be   contacted   at
archie-admin@address.of.archie.server,                      e.g.:

Mailing list:
To subscribe send a mail to:

Archie was developed by Alan Emtage, Peter Deutsch, and Bill Hee-
lan from the McGill University Computing Center,  Canada.  Archie
is now supported by Bunyip Information System Inc., Canada.