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Looking up FTP files on ARCHIE

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Looking up FTP files on ARCHIE

Date:         Mon, 22 Jul 1991 21:40:33 PST
Fr: Richard Hintz <[email protected]>
Re: What is an Archie?

Archie: The McGill School of Computer Science Archive Server

To access Archie, telnet to or
login: archie

Archie:   The McGill School of Computer Science Archive Server
          Listing Service

Given the number of hosts being used as archive sites
nowadays, there can be great difficulty in finding needed
software in a distributed environment. You may know that the
software that you need is out there, but it can sometimes be
difficult to find. The School of Computer Science at McGill
University has one solution to the problem - "archie".

Archie is a pair of software tools: the first maintains a list
of about 600 Internet ftp archive sites.  Each night software
executes an anonymous ftp to a subset of these sites and
fetches a recursive directory listing of each, which it stores
in a database.  We hit about 1/30th of the list each time, so
each site gets updated about once a month, hopefully balancing
timely updates against unnecessary network load.  The "raw"
listings are stored in compressed form on
(, where they are made available via anonymous ftp
in the directory ~ftp/archie/listings.

The second tool is the interesting one as far as the users are
concerned.  It consists of a program running on a dummy user
code that allows outsiders to log onto the archive server host
to query the database. This is in fact the program we call

Users can ask archie to search for specific name strings.  For
example, "prog kcl" would find all occurences of the string
"kcl" and tell you which hosts have entries with this string,
the size of the program, its last modification date and where
it can be found on the host along with some other useful
information. In this example, you could thus find those
archive sites that are storing Kyoto Common Lisp. With one
central database for all the archive sites we know about,
archie greatly speeds the task of finding a specific program
on the net.

Complete anonymous ftp listings of the various sites that we
keep in the database may be obtained via the 'site' command
and for a list of the sites which we keep track of, see the
'list' command.

Archie also maintains a 'Software Description Database' which
consists of the names and descriptions of various software
packages, documents and datasets that are kept on anonymous
ftp archive sites all around the Internet.
The 'whatis' command allows you to search this database.

Send comments, bug reports etc to

[email protected]

If you have a favourite anonymous ftp site that archie doesn't
seem to maintain, or if you have additions or corrections to
the Software Description database, send mail to

[email protected]

Archie was written and is maintained by Alan Emtage
([email protected]) and Bill Heelan ([email protected]).
Peter Deutsch ([email protected]) provided (and continues to
provide) ideas and inspiration.

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