The Novice Webmaster
The Novice Webmaster

Chances are pretty good that you access the Internet using a browser program. Chances are also pretty good that you use some version of Netscape, Internet Explorer, or something very similar to those two biggies. The gigantic, feature laden browser programs most commonly used today are just one type of program that you can use to surf the net. Granted, they provide the most visually appealing view of the Internet, and they are the most fun and entertaining to use with their image and sound capabilities. They are, in fact, largely responsible for turning the Internet into a place where people from all walks of life around the world now go to play, work, shop and learn.

Browsers are not the only programs you can use to access the Internet, they are certainly not the first, and, depending on what your needs and tasks may be, they are not always the best program to use either. After all…your email program is great for email. But it isn't necessarily the best tool to use if you want to write a book. Your browser is great for viewing the Internet, but it is not always the best tool to use for managing a website. For that, you will want something simple, fast, and basic that will let you upload, download, and access files on your site quickly, easily and with a minimum of fuss and frills. SSH and FTP are the two tools that fulfill these needs best.


Some accounts come with telnet access to the server. However, to connect to the server, the user must use an SSH program. SSH (Secure Shell) is functionally a secure version of telnet which encrypts the session so that others cannot eavesdrop. SSH provides greater security than allowing a Telnet connection to the server.

SSH is a program that emulates a computer terminal, allowing you to view information on site rather than downloading it to your personal computer for viewing. This is extremely useful if you need to view large amounts of information, such as all the files and folders on a web site, or a library catalog for example. Imagine how long it would take for you to download a web page containing the entire catalog of book titles from just a city library! With SSH, you are able to actually view the information on the library site, eliminating the download time.

SSH is not graphics capable, does not play sound files and is not one tiny bit entertaining. But it is the best tool to use for certain tasks. You will have a connection much like the old DOS screen. And, again like DOS, you will need to type in your commands.


FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. Like the name implies, its main purpose is to make transferring files from one computer to another as fast and easy as possible. Unlike SSH, FTP is not a program. It is instead a "protocol", just as HTTP is a protocol. Your browser program uses the HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) for viewing, reading, and translating HTML into the bright and colorful interactive web pages you see on your computer screen. In order to use FTP, you will need an FTP program.

Visually, you will not see either the imagery of a browser; Instead, you may see two panels, each with folders (also called directories) and files displayed. One panel will contain the folders and files on your computer. The other panel will contain the folders and files on the site you are logged into.


POP and SMTP are both protocols used for email. POP (Post Office Protocol) is used for incoming mail, while SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is used to send outgoing mail. You will need to use an email client in order to receive or send email from your account.

Linux and Unix

An OS, or "operating system" is the program you use to operate and run your computer. By far the three most universally used and recognized by the average surfer are Windows in any version from 3.x to Win 2000, NT, and Macintosh. Linux and Unix are both operating systems as well. They don't have, or support, all of the bells and whistles of the more popular operating systems, but that's not what they are meant for. These two operating systems are for serious stuff…for fast and dynamic data transfer…for allowing one computer to talk to others quickly and smoothly. Not for personal entertainment. This is why server computers and many other types of businesses use UNIX and/or Linux operating systems. They aren't pretty, but they are smart, they are stable, and they are fast.

Note: Unlike Windows and Macintosh, UNIX and Linux are case sensitive. "Index.html" is not the same as "index.html".

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