There are two console applications on the Zaurus PDA that I could never live without.
Pine (a program for Email and USENET) is one, by virtue that I've been using these client for
over 10 years. The other console app that I use daily on the Zaurus is NcFTP. NcFTP was born back in 1991,
and offers numerous enhancements to the standard ftp client that ships with every Linux/UNIX box (and Zaurus PDA).
Imagine my delight when both of these apps were ported over to the Zaurus.
Unlike NcFTP, tkcFTP is a graphical FTP client. Installation was a breeze, theKompany.com's
software happily installed either to the CompactFlash (CF) card or to RAM. Considering that RAM is such a premium on the Zaurus, I
installed the program to CF.
When you start up the program, you are taken immediately to a Connections panel. Here you can
store multiple profiles for your favorite ftp sites, allowing you to quickly log in to the sites you frequent the most. You can
see a few entries that I entered in the first screenshot. It's simple to create a new entry, or
re-order the list. Actually that reminds me, I must mention the little utility I've been using
to provide these screenshots. It's of course screenshotapplet (a free downloaded from handhelds.org).
When you've entered a profile, you click the Connect button and are logged into the ftp site. There's no
indication how the login goes, but when you're in the site, a directory listing appears (see Screenshot 2). Here you can navigate around
the directory structure of the site. It's inevitable that a graphical FTP client makes this navigation easier than a console based client, and
it's true here. Until that is, you find that tkcFTP cannot negotiate symbolic links. Symbolic links are files that do not contain any data;
instead, they are just "pointers", or "shortcuts" to other files. But with tkcFTP they don't work, which is unfortunate considering how many
archive sites use them. Besides the top directory, all the other entries in screenshot 2 are symbolic links.
Notwithstanding this, downloading and uploading files was extremely easy. Screenshot 3 shows a download in progress,
with a graphical bar indicating how much of the file has been downloaded. I sometimes download files with ncftp to the wrong local directory;
tkcFTP certainly has the advantage here.
Other features of tkcFTP include the ability to create and rename files and directories (assuming you
have the necessary permissions of course), selection and deletion of multiple files, and the ability to view hidden files. There aren't many more features
than that though.
This client could really be a killer application for the Zaurus. As well as the symbolic link problem being fixed, I'd
really like to see secure transfers (either FTP over an encrypted SSH2 connection, or SFTP). Roaming around anonymous FTP sites with unencrypted passwords
presents no problems of course, but when you want to log into a critical server, sending your password without encryption is not sensible.
It's hard to recommend this application over ncftp, unless your PDA connects to the net via the USB connection. Using
ncftp via the virtual keyboard is much slower than tkcFTP's graphical interface. There's also many people who dislike console apps, so tkcFTP may still be for you.