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FTP - Linux/Mac

File Transfer Protocol, Linux, Mac, SFTP, Secure, Anonymous, Upload,
NRAO Employees: Network access is for use on NRAO-approved machines only. Complete the Permission to Connect non-NRAO Computer to NRAO Network form (PDF) and have it authorized by your local computing division head before attempting any connections except "nraoPUBLIC". Please note that VPN is the preferred remote connection technology.
Visitors: May make use of NRAO public wireless networks where available. For RFI restricted areas, contact the Help Desk.
With the advent of ASTROCLOUD, the use of FTP for file sharing has changed.  For small to medium size files, ASTROCLOUD is a better, secure, easy to use method for either sharing files, or allowing upload.  ASTROCLOUD is not suited to very large (gigabyte and larger) files.

FTP Services

The NRAO provides three file transfer services:

  1. Anonymous ftp
  2. Secure (Shell) "ftp", actually part of ssh; and
  3. Astrocloud (see box at right)

Anonymous ftp is used mostly by non-NRAO staff to either retrieve files or upload files into the incoming directory. You can only connect to the anonymous ftp site as the user ftp or anonymous and therefore only have limited read-only access to the NRAO system.

The specifics of how to connect depend on your FTP client (command line ftp, FileZilla, etc.)  The instructions here are for the old fashioned command line interface.

Anonymous FTP

To connect to one of the three servers, pick one of these commands:

        ftp ftp.aoc.nrao.edu
        ftp ftp.cv.nrao.edu
        ftp ftp.gb.nrao.edu

When challenged for a username, use anonymous.  The convention is to enter your e-mail address as the password; this helps us diagnose things in the event of problems.

Once in, you can then use the normal ftp commands cd (to change directory), ls to list files, and get to retrieve files. Remember to use the bin command if you are retrieving a binary file such as FITS.

The actual location on disk of the ftp servers may be found on Linux systems at each site under /home/ftp/.

FTP File Upload

The FTP servers are not set up for password based access, because the passwords are not encrypted when transmitted from your computer to the server.

NRAO ftp servers are set up to permit a limited upload service.  Each server has a designated area for this, with a set of subdirectories under it as "lock boxes" for individual staff members.  YOU CANNOT READ OR SEE THE FILES THAT YOU UPLOAD VIA FTP (nor can anyone else on the internet). The first step is to verify with your NRAO colleague the exact account name (e.g., pmurphy for Pat Murphy) and ask them if they have a FTP lockbox or incoming area.  Then you can use the put command as follows (replace pmurphy or jrobnett or cclark with the appropriate account name):

  • For Charlottesville:
    ftp ftp.cv.nrao.edu
    (log in as anonymous, use your e-mail address as password)
    cd Lockbox/pmurphy
    put 3c273.fits
    put sourcecode.tar.gz
    This example shows someone uploading a FITS file and a "tarball" (both binary) into a staff member's lockbox area.
  • For New Mexico:
    ftp ftp.aoc.nrao.edu
    (log in as anonymous, use your e-mail address as password)
    cd incoming/jrobnett
    put 3c84.fits
    put lustre.tar.gz
    This example shows someone uploading a FITS file and a "tarball" (both binary) into a staff member's lockbox area.
  • For Green Bank:
    ftp ftp.gb.nrao.edu
    (log in as anonymous, use your e-mail address as password)
    cd incoming/cclark
    put psr_0329+54.fits
    put jaffa_kree.doc
    This example shows someone uploading a FITS file and a word file (both binary) into a staff member's lockbox area.

To access the contents of your FTP Lockbox:


cd /home/ftp/Lockbox/username


Connect to smb://samba-site/ftp  (where site is "cv", "gb" or "aoc")

Navigate to "Lockbox/username"

FTP File outgoing ("NRAO-staff") area

The FTP outgoing area can be used to make files available for others to download anonymously.

To access the contents of your FTP outgoing area:


cd /home/ftp/NRAO-staff/username


Connect to smb://samba-site/ftp/NRAO-staff  (where site is "cv", "gb" or "aoc")



Secure (Shell) FTP

This protocol (sftp) is part of the SSH/SCP service, and is not in any way related to the actual FTP service or the ftp areas under /home/ftp at the NRAO/GBO/LBO sites.  PASSWORD BASED AUTHENTICATION ON THE ACTUAL FTP SERVERS IS DEPRECATED OR DISABLED as the passwords are sent over the network as clear text....

Secure ftp is used by NRAO staff to either upload file to or download files from NRAO systems. You need a NRAO Unix account to do this. The advantage of secure ftp is that you login as your normal user account, and therefore have access to all the files and folders in your home directory, as well as other file systems and shares visible via NFS.

The servers used at the sites are different from the normal ftp servers; they are in fact the same as the login (ssh) bastion servers. Assuming you are using the command line (and not FileZilla or gftp or some other graphical client that supports sftp), choose one of:

  • sftp sftp.aoc.nrao.edu
  • sftp sftp.cv.nrao.edu
  • sftp sftp.gb.nrao.edu

Then when challenged, enter your Unix username and password. Once in, you can use the usual cd, ls, pwd, get, and put commands.


See separate documentation.

Permission Form for Non-NRAO Computers