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Internet Basics -
A Guide to Getting Started
Dan Solarek and Allen Rioux

As you begin to use the Internet and the World Wide Web, you will be able to explore some of the most diverse places and resources available anywhere in the world. In the jargon of the Internet, Internet explorers are called Internauts, the space occupied by the Internet (which they explore) is known as cyberspace, and the act of exploring cyberspace is called surfing.

So, welcome to cyberspace, Internauts. We hope that you enjoy your experiences surfing the Internet!

The Internet Connection

You're connected! With very few exceptions, every microcomputer at The University of Toledo is already physically connected to the Internet. That includes the computers in the instructional computer laboratories, those on faculty desks, and those in various ET labs. Every building in the College of Engineering Complex on the Bancroft Campus and the Engineering Technology Center at the Scott Park Campus is connected to the Internet. The University's academic and administrative networks are connected to the Internet.

You're already using it! Perhaps without fully realizing it, many of you are already using the Internet. From Scott Park, we connect to the TOP, the College of Engineering's server using the Internet. When you request a POP3 email account, you connect to UOFT02 using the Internet.

It works from home or school. Some of you, however, may need to add some software (programs) to your computer so that you can take full advantage of the information resources on the Internet. Keep in mind that the specific configuration and technology of your computer will determine the best software to use and may limit the types of information you can access. If you have any questions, be sure to talk with someone from Engineering College Computing.

Overview and Site Outline

This page includes basic information about the Internet and its use. Some of this information was first prepared by Allen Rioux and presented to the Community and Technical College faculty and staff as part of a half-day seminar entitled "An Afternoon on the Information Highway: Surfing the Internet." Allen's original work has been expanded and converted to HTML format by Dan Solarek. A great deal of the new information about the Internet has been obtained directly from the Internet itself.

This expanded and enhanced Guide is not only intended to serve the purposes of this course but should also serve as a reference source for your ongoing use of the Internet. It will continue to be updated and expanded as time and energy permit. Currently, it includes information on the following topics:

What is the Internet?

The Internet is a global collection of computer networks, all linked together and available for your use ... it is, a network of networks.

The Internet is a series of interconnected computer networks that includes local, area, regional, national, and international backbone networks. Networks connected to the Internet use the same communications protocol (known as TCP/IP) and provide a variety of services, including electronic mail, remote login, and file transfer.

The most important thing to remember is that the Internet is simply the communications medium ... the wire! It is global in its coverage and is oftern referred to as the Information Highway, or the Information Superhighway because a wide variety of information services use the communications medium (wire) to deliver their information.

Why Use the Internet?

There are a multitude of reasons for using the Internet, perhaps as varied as the users themselves. However, there are a number of "common" reasons that people cite for using the Internet. They include:
  • sending and receiving electronic mail
  • finding information on just about any topic
  • retrieving information (e.g., text, data, images, sound, and video)
  • retrieving (downloading) free software (shareware, freeware)
  • conducting research
  • accessing library catalogs and information databases
  • keeping up to date with electonic news, journals, government documents, and books
  • participating in global electronic discussion groups (also called chat groups)
The common thread here is that the items in this list can all be considered information resources or information services, and that they all use the Internet for delivering their services.

Some Basic Terminology

An understanding of the following terms is essential to our discussion of the Internet. A comprehensive glossary of Internet and World Wide Web terminology is also included on this server.
  • network. Specifically, a computer network. A computer network is an interconnection of computers allowing for the exchange and sharing of resources (files, data, computing power). At the Community and Technical College, these computers are physically connected together using Ethernet circuit cards and network cabling.
  • protocol. A mutually determined set of formats, rules, and procedures governing the exchange of information between computer systems and/or computer programs. In other words, the rules and language that one program (running on a local computer) uses to communicate to another program (running on a remote computer). The specific protocol used on the Internet is known as TCP/IP.
  • TCP/IP. Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol is a combined set of protocols that performs the transfer of data between two computers. TCP monitors and ensures correct transfer of data. IP receives the data from TCP, breaks it up into packets, and ships it off to a network within the Internet. TCP/IP is also used as a name for a protocol suite that incorporates these functions and others.
  • IP address. The numeric address of a computer connected to the Internet; also called Internet address.
  • ftp. File Transfer Protocol. The procedure for connecting to a remote computer and transfering files back to your local computer.
  • anonymous ftp. Anonymous ftp allows you to connect to a remote computer and transfer public files back to your local computer without the need to have an account (user ID and password) on the remote system.
  • gopher. A text-oriented, hierarchically organized, distributed information service that uses a simple protocol to enable Gopher clients to access information from any other accessible Gopher server.
  • user ID. A one-word name used to identify a specific user of a specific computer or computer network. Usually assigned by the system administrator, often including a portion of the individual's name. Typically used in conjunction with a user-selected password to authenticate the individual's right to access the resources of the computer system.

Anonymous Use of Computer Systems

In a significant way, the success and utility of the Internet is dependent upon the willingness of colleges, universities, government organizations, military agencies, private companies, and countless other organizations to allow outsiders to access some of the information and resources on the computer systems under their control. This use takes place as a guest or anonymous user.

Thus, as you surf the Internet, you are actually moving from one computer system to another, being recognized as an anonymous user on each of those systems. This recognition takes place automatically, so you do not have to type a user ID or password into any of these computer systems. It is important to note, however, that as an anonymous user, you are not unknown to the remote system administrator. Each computer on the Internet (including the one on your desk) has an IP address that is registered and can be traced back to the original location.

For example, when using Netscape to accomplish Anonymous FTP, the login name (user ID) is anonymous and the password is your email address. Netscape automatically provides this information to the anonymous ftp site. It should be obvious that, in this situation, you are known to the remote site.

For site protection, anonymous users do not have the capability (permission) to write, edit (modify), or delete files on the remote site. This is, therefore, called read only access.

Internet Tools

You will need more than a physical connection to the Internet. The list below indicates the major software tools commonly used on the Internet. Although you don't need all of these tools, some understanding of each will help you to select those you do need.
  • connection hardware and software
  • ftp software
  • telnet software
  • email composer and mailer
  • Wold Wide Web browser
  • finger software
  • ping software
  • gopher software
Each of these tools is a program, known as a client, that runs on your computer and allows you to use the corresponding information service. For example, you will need an email client program running on your computer if you want to compose, send and receive email messages. Your program (e.g., Eudora) is the CLIENT and the sending program (post office server) is the SERVER.

Internet Service Providers

If you plan to access the Internet from home, you will need a modem (MOdulator-DEModulator) connection to an organization that is "directly" connected via Ethernet (as we are at UT). Your modem should be the fastest speed that you can afford (e.g., 33K or 56K). Special high-speed digital connections known as ISDN can also be arranged through the local telephone company and your internet service provider. ISDN service requires two telephone lines.

If you want a graphical connection to the Internet from home (essential for exploring the World Wide Web), you have three basic options 1) to subscribe to an Internet Service Provider or 2) subscribe to one of the national on-line service providers, or 3) to utilize the dialup access service provided by the University.

Nationally, there are a number of fee-charging Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Locally, there are a number ISPs, each with a local access telephone number (no long distance telephone charges!). The local providers include:

The modem used for a home Internet connection should have a minimum baud rate of 28,800 baud (referenced as "28 point 8"). The faster the baud rate, the better. Faster 33.3K and 56K baud modems are currently available. A 14,400 baud modem ("14 point 4") is minimally acceptable for text-only services.

Three types of modem connections are possible. The first is called a PPP (Point to Point Protocol) connection. This is simply an Internet protocol for connecting computers over a serial line (telephone line). An alternative is the SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol). Conceptually similar to PPP, SLIP is an Internet protocol for connecting computers over a telephone line or other serial lines. The fastest modem connection is known as ISDN (128,000 baud) and requires two telephone lines. You will need to check with your telephone provider to determine if ISDN is available in your area.

On your home PC, you will need software that receives the SLIP, PPP, or ISDN communications and passes them along to Netscape (or other Web browser). This software is generally called a Winsock (short for Windows Sockets) program.

The other option for accessing the Internet from your home is to use one of the national on-line services. These services include:

Each of these services provide at local telephone access to their services, and therefore to the Internet. All provide at least email capabilities on the Internet. Some also provide their own internal Web browser. In all cases, these services charge extra for using the Internet (be sure to check and compare prices). In all cases, these services are somewhat slower than PPP or SLIP access to the Internet.

Computers, Addresses and Domain Names

All computers connected to the Internet must have a unique numerical address. For example, The University of Toledo has a mainframe computer with the Internet Protocol (IP) address, read as "131 dot 183 dot 1 dot 2". All IP addresses must have four components (numbers) seperated by periods (dots). Each of these numbers cannot exceed 255.

To make Internet addresses easier to remember and practical to use, numerical addresses are often replaced with host name addresses. The host name address for the University's IBM mainframe (called uoft01) is . The Community and Technical (C&T) College has a microcomputer called baddog which has an Internet host name address of . Every computer in The University of Toledo's domain ends with The .edu indicates the computer is on an academic network, the .sp indicates a computer at Scott Park, and the .utoledo should be somewhat obvious.

You'll soon get used to the logic behind these host name addresses and they should become easier to use. As a first step in that direction, the table below is intended to help you become familiar with the various organizational type identifiers currently in use.

Identifier Organization Type
edu educational institutions
gov governmental organizations
mil military agencies
net network support centers
com commercial organizations
org other organizations

The most commonly used computers for UT employees and students are listed below:

  • uoft01 - Computer Services IBM/CMS (
  • uoft02 - Computer Services VAX (
  • top - College of Engineering Unix Microcomputer (
  • baddog - C&T College Unix Microcomputer (


Telnet allows your computer to act as a terminal to a remote host computer. This can either be the IBM/CMS mainframe, the VAX (both on the Bancroft campus), TOP, the Class Server, or a computer literally anywhere in the world. You will need to be able to use telnet to connect to both TOP and the Class Server to complete the assignments for this course. (NOTE: You do not need to use telnet to use email services. Email client programs POP your email off the mail server automatically.)

To connect to TOP, for example, follow these steps:

Issue the telnet command on your PC and choose to connect to When you see the

prompt, enter your user ID and press the [Enter] (or Return on some keyboards) key. When prompted for your password, type it in and then press [Enter]. Your password will not appear on screen as you type it.

If you get

  login incorrect 
start again with your user ID and then carefully type your password. If you are not successful three times in succession, contact someone from Engineering College Computing or Information Technology for assistance.

If you are successful, you should see

which means you have properly logged in and can now begin typing commands. Be certain to type "logout" before you leave TOP!

Email Addresses

An email (or electronic mail) address includes the User ID for an individual authorized to use a specific computer and that computer's host name address. If an individual is allowed to use more than one computer, it is not unusual for that individual to have different User IDs on each computer (and therefore different email addresses). For example, at the University, we have the following situation:
Individual User ID Computer
Dan Solarek FAC0049 CMS
dsolare VAX
" dsolarek baddog
Allen Rioux FAC2209 CMS
" arioux VAX
" arioux baddog

The general format for an email address is:


The table below illustrates a few example email addresses. Note that although the table emphasizes the three components of each email address, when you type an email address it is typed without any separating spaces.
User ID @ Computer Address
dsolarek @
arioux @
cbohlen @
president @
dbensch @
endicott @

The email addresses shown above are all valid. Don't hesitate to try one or more of them out and send along a note.

Composing, Sending and Receiving Email Using Pine

To read and compose Internet email from a UNIX server, we recommend that you use Pine. From a Windows-based microcomputer, we recommend Eudora as your email client. To use Pine from a UNIX server, simply login to the server and then type pine at the $ prompt. After a short pause you should see something similar to the following:

Pine uses a user-friendly system of menus to read and compose your email. Take a few minutes to study the figure above. Near the bottom of the screen you will see a list of commands. Pressing the letter "O" (for Other) lists additional commands. All email is stored in folders which Pine automatically creates for you. Once you become more familiar with Pine, you will be able to change these folders.

For an instant test, try sending an email message to yourself. Follow these steps:

  • Press the letter "C" for compose while viewing the main menu. This will give you a an email header form to fill in.
  • Enter the email address of the recipient (in this case, your own email address).
  • Press the [Tab] key twice to move to the Subject field of the header and then type anything you desire.
  • Press the [Tab] key once again to move to the message area and type a short message.
  • When you are finished typing the message, hold down the [Ctrl] key and then press the letter "X" key. Pine will prompt you with "are you sure?".
  • Type the letter "y" for yes and your message will be sent.
Note that you will need to hold down the [Ctrl] key and then press the letter key corresponding to the desired commands on the Compose screen.

If you receive email it will appear in the INBOX folder. Follow the menu options to view your INBOX folder. Note that if you are reading some email, you have a 'Reply' option which will let you compose a response instantly, and send it without typing the recipient's email address.

For more information about Pine when logged onto the VAX, try typing man pine from the $ prompt. You may look at an HTML version of the Pine manual from this page.

To exit or quit Pine, press the letter "Q" and then type the letter "y" for yes. type logout before you leave!


FTP stands for "File Transfer Protocol" and as the name suggests, is a standard way of transferring files from computer to computer. FTP works regardless of the type of computer you may be using or the type of computer at the remote site. Within the University, you could use FTP to copy files from the VAX to your microcomputer disk space (called downloading). On the Internet, you can use FTP to download files from around the world. In fact, FTP is bidirectional. This means that you can transfer files from your computer to one at the remote site (also called uploading).

FTP is really a set of many commands (fifty or more in some implementations). FTP includes commands to list directories, change directories, list files in directories, and set parameters for just how the file transfers will be accomplished. For example, there are two ways of transferring data - ASCII or text mode (for text files!) and binary mode for all other types of information (e.g., images). Thus, FTP includes commands to specify which mode to use for the file transfer.


The Finger command allows you to locate someone using a particular computer system. Finger is a program that searches for and displays information about a particular user, or all users, logged onto a network system. The information displayed usually includes the individual's full name, last login time, idle time, connect time, and their terminal (or microcomputer) location.

The general form of the Finger command is:

  finger username@address
For example, try the following:

Some sites (system administrators) consider the Finger command to be an invasion of privacy and may disable it or modify the way it works. Don't be surprised if you discover this as you search for email addresses.


Ping stands for Packet InterNet Gopher and is a simple command (utility program) which allows you to test the accessibility of a particular remote site.

The general form of the Ping command is:

  ping hostname
For example, try the following from the DOS prompt:
If you know the IP address of a specific host computer, you might also try the following form of the ping command from the DOS prompt:


When the Internet was still relatively new, faculty at the University of Minnesota developed a system for users with text-based terminals (the norm at that time) which allowed them to move around the Internet without keeping track of just where they were (what computer resources they were using). This system became known as Gopher. Gopher lists simple menus (or directories) on the screen in plain English, organized by subject. By following the Gopher menus, you can read and transfer files from the remote site without having to know exactly where everything is coming from.

Gopher is a text-oriented, hierarchically organized, distributed information service that uses a simple protocol to enable Gopher clients to access information from any other accessible Gopher server.

Gopherspace is considered the forerunner of the World Wide Web.

World Wide Web

The World Wide Web (WWW or simply the Web) is a network of multimedia information servers that use the Internet to distribute their information. By multimedia, we mean that these information servers include a variety of formats such as: text, graphics, audio and video. The University of Toledo, College of Engineering and the Engineering Technology Department each have a series of informational pages on the World Wide Web.

The WWW is an excellent example of Client-Server Computing, also known as Distributed Computing. In a client-server computing environment, both the client computer (yours) and the server computer (the remote computer) share the computing work needed to deliver and display the information.

We recommend the use of Netscape Navigator to view any information on the Web.

Usenet News

In general terms, Usenet News is a kind of global bulletin board. Information is posted by individuals in a number of topical interest categories called newsgroups. Each group may contain hundreds of articles.

More specifically, Usenet News, or simply Usenet, is a global distributed discussion system. It consists of thousands (more than 10,000) of newsgroups (discussion groups) with names that are classified hierarchically by subject. "Articles" or "messages" are "posted" to these newsgroups by individuals on computers with the appropriate software. These articles are then broadcast to other interconnected computer systems via a wide variety of computer networks. Some newsgroups are "moderated." In these newsgroups, the articles and messages are first sent to a moderator for review and approval before appearing in the newsgroup. Usenet is available on a wide variety of computer systems and networks, but the bulk of modern Usenet traffic is transported over either the Internet or UUCP.

We recommend you use Netscape to access Usenet News.

Network Etiquette or Netiquette

Before you start roaming the globe from your desktop computer, you will need to learn and observe some basic Internet etiquette.

Internet etiquette, or netiquette, is a set of informal rules that should be followed whenever using the Internet. Netiquette rules are really just a set of suggested guidelines to be followed so as to make use of the Internet as friendly as possible. Some of these guidelines are summarized below:

Electronic Mail Netiquette

  • Do not send junk mail or chain letters.
  • Do not send advertisements.
  • Sarcasism and humor may not be well communicated via electronic mail (e-mail). There are no non-verbal cues from which other people can infer any underlying meaning to your message.
  • Use upper and lower case only where appropriate. UPPERCASE may be used to HIGHLIGHT. Typing an entire message in uppercase is considered equivalent to shouting and is annoying.
  • Messages should be short and to the point.
  • Neatness and spelling count.
  • Be careful of who is receiving your mail. Make sure you have the correct person.

Netiquette for Accessing Information

  • Just because you can access information does not mean you should. Access only the information you need.
  • Refrain from unnecessarily criticizing people (also called flaming).
  • Obey copyright and license agreements.
  • Respect the wishes of any site you may be accessing.

There have been visitors since 11/26/2003

Added to the Web: November 30, 1997.
Last updated: October 1, 1998.
Web page design by Dan Solarek.