Terminal Settings and Telnet / SSH Programs



You can dial in to SCN directly at (206) 386-4199, or dial in through some libraries' text-only Internet gateways. If you have a PPP account at a commercial Internet provider, you can log in to scn.org with a telnet program that runs on your computer.

You can also use SSH for encrypted secure communications. SCN supports SSH1 and the 3DES encryption standard. SSH is very similar to telnet, except that SSH automatically encrypts your password and transmitted data. Secure terminal programs are preferred to telnet, because they prevent others from seeing your password. See OpenSSH.org for more information and SSH software.

When you log in to SCN, you're either using a text-only terminal (for example, at some library branches) or emulating one with a communications program on your personal computer. This lets you change your account setup, change your mail forwarding address and do some other things from the Freeport logon menus that it's not accessible to do from the Web.

There are two ends to your connection. The communications program on your computer must be set to match your terminal settings on SCN. Both systems must be set to use the same communications standards and terminal type, so that they can communicate properly with one another.

Setting Your SCN Terminal Type

First check your SCN account's terminal type. To do this, type "printenv" at the SCN "Your Choice ==>" menu prompt. This will display your current terminal type and some other environment variables.

The default terminal type on SCN is VT-100. That's almost always the best choice. SCN's VT-100 terminal type includes control codes for the VT-102, which long ago supplanted the original VT-100.

To set the terminal type for your account, type "go term" at the SCN menu prompt. Press the key corresponding to the number next to VT-100. Always use SCN's VT-100 or VT-220 terminal types, unless you are forced to use another terminal type and know exactly what you're doing.

Caution: The ANSI terminal type on the SCN terminal menu has some unfixed problems. Do not use the ANSI terminal type at the present time.

Setting Your Computer's Terminal Type

Set the terminal type on your end of the connection to match your SCN terminal type. If your PC's communications program doesn't have a VT-102 or VT-220 setting, then any higher numbered VT setting should work. If it has both VT-100 and VT-102 settings, use VT-102. If it has only VT-100, use that.

If you have a PPP account at an Internet provider, but don't have a telnet program installed on your PC, see below for information about Windows and Macintosh telnet programs.

Garbled Screens in Lynx

A user wrote:
> [With Lynx,] The screen writes over itself and I am left with a > completely useless interface. It is totally full of characters from > the current and previous screens.

These garbled screens don't show up with the Freeport menus and other older utility programs, because Freeport uses a smaller subset of terminal functions than Lynx does.

Garbled screens can arise from a mismatch between the terminal types on the two ends of the connection. Have a look at your terminal settings, both on SCN and in your computer's communications program. On SCN, type "go term" and set the terminal type to VT100. Then set up your PC's communications program to use VT102, VT220, or VT100.

If changing your terminal settings doesn't clear up the garbled screens in Lynx, it might help to try a different communications program. Sometimes the garbled screens happen because the terminal emulation in your PC's communications program (even if it's supposedly of the identical type) doesn't extend beyond a selection of the most commonly used control codes. For example, the Windows 3.1 terminal applet isn't adequate for use with some software on SCN. Please look for a communications program with better terminal emulation. HyperTerminal's free Personal Edition upgrade is notably better than the version that ships with Windows 95. For some terminal programs that are known to work well with SCN, see the listing of telnet software near the bottom of this page.

Using Telnet with Netscape

Netscape (through version 4) doesn't include a built-in telnet program, but you can configure it to start up an external telnet application. Then you can click on the "Login (telnet)" link on the SCN home page.

If you already have a telnet program installed on your PC, go to Netscape 4.0's Edit | Preferences | Navigator | Applications, and pick Telnet from the list in the scroll box. Press the "Edit..." button, and fill in the information there.

With Netscape 3.0, go to the Options | General Preferences | Apps dialog box and enter the file path and filename for your telnet program. Once you do that, you should be able to successfully click on any "telnet://..." link on any Web page.

Telnet Tutorials

UW: What are Telnet and SSH

IU: Using Telnet

How to Configure a Dedicated Telnet Client to Operate Through a Firewall - for special purpose telnet clients like Cirrus.

Communications Software for Windows

OpenSSH.org - secure terminal and secure file transfer

PuTTY - A free telnet/SSH client

CommNet - dialup and telnet - Zmodem

NetTerm - dialup and telnet - Zmodem, Kermit

CRT - dialup and telnet - Zmodem

QVT-Term - dialup and telnet/SSH

Teraterm - secure terminal and secure file transfer

Stroud: Winsock terminal apps - Win 9x/ME/NT/2K

Stroud: Winsock terminal apps - Win 3.1x

TUCOWS: Win 3.x Winsock terminal apps

MoNags: 32bit Telnet 0 Terminal Clients - Freeware

Communications Software for Macintosh


OpenSSH.org - secure terminal and secure file transfer


Data Comet - telnet, Zmodem

Better Telnet

TUCOWS: Macintosh Telnet Programs

Modem Dialup:

Black Night


Communications Software for LINUX, BSD

OpenSSH.org - secure terminal and secure file transfer

Minicom (description)   (download) - terminal emulator - Zmodem

Seyon - terminal emulator - Zmodem

Updated March 25th, 2004 - help@scn.org