Help topics:

[FAQ] [menus] [unix] [email] [news] [ftp] [web] [homepages] [support]


Menu Navigation
Menu Roadmap

Menu Navigation

At each prompt of "Choice:" you should pick one of the letters or words found down the left side of the menu.

At various places you may find yourself at a prompt of "--More--" or similar -- such as at the bottom of the screen right now. At this prompt you may press the space bar to continue, control-B to go back a screen, or the "q" key to quit reading.

To leave the system, type "bye" at the "Choice:" prompt. "x" will exit any menu and return you to the previous menu. "top" or "T" (capital T) will take you to the top (initial) menu. (Note that various *programs* use 'q' to quit, vs. 'x' to exit. Try 'q' first.)

To set your terminal type, choose "c" from the "s" (System Status) menu. The initial type is vt100, suitable for many micro communication programs.

For extended information about the commands that are run, use the "help" command from any menu; follow it with the option letters of what you're interested in, such as "help f" for help on what choosing option "f" would do. (Note that some options have no help -- just try them!)

You can 'batch' menu commands, by separating them with a comma. As in, typing "i,h,x" from the main menu will go into the info menu, read the nyx history, and exit the info menu.

Also, you can create menu macros: create a file .mshellmac in your home directory, where you want to put lines like name=commands as in hist=top,i,h,x And execute as #hist (including inside other macros or multi-command lines).

To execute a "pure" Unix command you may enter it at the "Choice:" prompt preceded by an exclamation mark, as in "!who". It is NOT recommended that you do this unless you are familiar with Unix.

You may learn Unix by choosing the "learn" option from the education menu. You may abandon the use of this menu system and use the standard Unix environment (the "shell") by doing "!csh" ("exit" to return to the menu).

If you have any questions or need help, send mail to support ("fb" from the main menu). First, though, see 'faq' (Frequently Asked Questions) on the main menu -- all the common questions are answered there.

Menu Roadmap

Nyx, like the world-wide network it is connected to and the Unix operating system running beneath these menus, is a fairly large creature. This is an overview of what is where on the system and how to find out more.

The main menu has these options:

i Information...

This often overlooked menu has *lots* of information about Nyx, including the philsophy behind it, its history, views on hacking, how to find users on the network, programs to locate files not on Nyx, and so on. Lots of good stuff.

f Upload/Download file menu

Where you'll find files to download for most systems, and can upload files you think others would enjoy (no pirated software, please). These are local files, not to be confused with files you can get "by ftp" -- see the info/moreinfo menu for information on that.

s Status/options/users menu

This menu has commands to look at and change various options, see what's happening on the system, look up information on users, and so forth.

u Unix file access menu

From here you can do most of the things you'd want to do with files, such as look at them, create them, remove them, make directories, etc.

c Communications menu -- bulletins, NetNews, mail, chat

This has most of the "action"

o Organization menus

p Programming menu

e Education menu

w Word processing menu

g Games menu

gr Graphics menu

in Introduce yourself to other Nyx users

fund Info on the "fund drive" to improve ol' Nyx

hack Info on recent hacker problems; also see info menu.

faq Frequently Asked Questions & answers

fb Send feedback to sysop (comments, questions, etc.)


Getting to the Unix Shell
Quick Reference
Suggested Reading List

Getting to the Unix Shell

You can use the standard Unix environment (the "shell") by entering "!csh"
To return to the menu system, type "exit" at the unix prompt.


Following is a reference of common unix commands, their menu equivalents, and brief descriptions:

Unix     Menu    Description         |  Unix      Menu     Description
cat      u,p2    type file to screen |  man       i,m      manual for command
cd       u,c     change directory    |  more      u,p      type file to screen
cd ~/    u,h     change to home dir  |  passwd    s,p      change passwd
chfn     c,u,i   change your user    |  ps        s,ps     show process id's
         c,u,m   info & full name    |  spell     w,s      spell check file
chmod    u,a,ch  change file protect |  talk      c,t,t    talk to other users
compress u,c,o   compress file (.Z)  |            c,t,j    to answer talk req
du       s,du    show disk usage     |
elm      c,m,nr  mail                |  trn       c,n,trn  best(IMO)newsreader
file     u,ft    check file type     |  tset      s,t      select term type
finger   c,i,f   check info on user  |  vi,ed,etc u,e      edit file
grep     u,a,s   search file f/string|  w         c,u,u    who's on/what doing
kill     s,kill  kill process        |  who       c,w      who's on nyx
ls       u,l     list files in dir   |  whois     c,i,w    NIC whois program
ls -l    u,dir   like ls, more info  |  ?         u,ce     select def editor
The menu commands can be run from any level by prefacing with "top."


Suggested reading list for Unix/Shell Programming

- Life with Unix; Libes; Prentice Hall. (A must for truly understanding why Unix is what it is.)

- Unix System V, Release 4 -- an Introduction; Rosen, et al.; McGraw Hill. (Comprehensive guide to using and programming with Unix. Mostly applies to Berkeley based systems.)

- Exploring the Unix System; Kochan & Wood; Hayden Book Co. (Geared toward System V Unix, not Berkeley Unix, but most of it works the same. Intro to medium level.)

- An Introduction to Berkeley Unix; Wang; West. (Geared toward Berkeley Unix specifically. Intro to advanced.)

- Unix Shell Programming; Kochan & Wood; Hayden. (Only shell -- little on awk, no perl; mostly Bourne shell. Advanced.)

- The Unix C-shell Field Guide; Anderson & Anderson; Prentice Hall. (C-shell oriented only. Intro to advanced.)

- The AWK Programming Language; Aho, Kernighan & Weinberger; Prentice Hall. (Only about awk. Advanced.)

- Programming Perl; Wall & Schwartz; O'Reilly. Also see the Perl manual page (e.g., print out the on-line copy). (Only about perl; limited examples, but comprehensive. Advanced.)

- Unix System Security; Kochen & Wood; Hayden. (Unix and C; Advanced.)

- Unix System Administration Handbook; Nemeth, Snyder & Seebass; Prentice Hall. (By Evi Nemeth at CU-Boulder. Advanced.)

- The system's documentation set; a complete copy of this should be available to all. (Very intro to very advanced.)


Email Readers on Nyx

  • Firstly, we offer pine and elm, which are the simplest of the readers.
  • We also offer standard unix mail (very hard to use for a newbie, but usable).

Reading mail with POP

Another way you can read email on nyx is to have a program such as Outlook Express orEudora retrieve your mail via POP3.

For incoming mail, set your POP3 server to pop.nyx.net .

For outgoing mail, use your own ISP's SMTP or outbound mail server.

Your e-mail address is: yourusername.nyx.net

Unwanted mail, Unsolicited Bulk Email, spam

See Spam control at Nyx


NetNews is where the major "action" is on Nyx, with tens of thousands of worldwide message areas that see considerable traffic.

Newsgroups are huge, subject-specific online bulletin boards where anyone can post their thoughts and millions of people can respond. No matter what your special interest, there is probably a newsgroup dedicated to it.

To access the newsreaders on Nyx using the Menu system,

  • choose 'c' for communications menu
  • choose 'n' for news menu
  • choose 'rn' (read news) or 'trn' (threaded newsreader)


What is FTP?

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) allows a person to transfer files between two computers, generally connected via the Internet. If your system has FTP and is connected to the Internet, you can access very large amounts of archives available on a number of systems. If you are on Bitnet or a UUCP host, you should look for servers that work through the mail. A good source of information on archives in general, is the Usenet newsgroup comp.archives.

What is Anonymous FTP?

Many systems throughout the Internet offer files through anonymous FTP. These include software, documents of various sorts, and files for configuring networks. Archives for electronic mailing lists are often stored available through anonymous FTP. Note that all this is subject to change.


All the normal FTP commands may be used to retrieve files. Some FTP commands are the same on different computers, but others are not. Usually, FTP will list the commands if you type "help" type a question mark (?). Also, your computer's help command may have information about FTP. Try man ftp or man ftpd.

Some useful commands available on most systems include:

get copy a file from the remote computer to yours ls/dir list the files in the current directory cd Change directory binary Switch to binary mode. For transferring binary files ascii Switch to ascii mode. Ascii mode is the default mode


Anonymous ftp is a facility offered by many machines on the Internet. This permits you to log in with the user name 'anonymous' or the user name 'ftp'. When prompted for a password, type your e-mail address -- it's not necessary, but it's a courtesy for those sites that like to know who is making use of their facility. Be courteous.

You can then look around and retrieve files. (Most anonymous ftp sites do not permit people to store files)

Typically, a directory called 'pub' is where the interesting things are stored. Some sites will have a file with a name like ls-lR, that contains a complete list of the files on that site. Otherwise, you can type ls -lR and get such a listing -- for some sites, this can take a LONG time.

Usually, files are grouped in archive files, so you don't have to get many small files separately. The most common archival file format for the Internet is tar. Occasion- ally, people use shell archives (shar) instead. tar archives can be unpacked by running the tar command -- you may want to first do a 'tar t' on the file to see what it contains before unpacking it. Be careful when unpacking shell archives since they have to be run through the Bourne shell to unpack them. (The simplest way is to use the unshar com- mand)

Files are often stored compressed -- for Unix, the most common scheme is the compress program, indicated by a .Z suffix on the file name. Sometimes, people use programs like arc or zoo, which are combined archival and compression formats. (There are probably other archival formats as well - talk to the systems staff if you encounter them and don't know how to deal with them)

When retrieving non-text files, you must use binary mode, otherwise the file gets messed up. To do this, use the 'binary' command. (It's safe to set this for text files. If the site at the other end is non-Unix, you may need to use some other mode -- see the documents for that site and for ftp)

The simplest way to initiate FTP would be to give the command 'ftp <system-name>', where <system-name> is the remote system you are connecting to, either a name (wsmr- simtel20.army.mil, if you have an entry in /etc/hosts or are accessing a Domain-name Server) or the InterNet address (, for Simtel20). After a short wait, you will be prompted for your username. If you do not have an account on the remote system, some systems allow you to use 'anonymous'. This gives you a restricted access path.

You would then be prompted for a password. Some sys- tems will tell you to send your real identity as the pass- word. What you type doesn't matter, but it is suggested to give your mail address. Other systems need a password of 'guest', or something similar.

After that, you should receive the FTP prompt (usually ftp>), and now have access. You can get a directory of files be giving a 'dir' command, or if the remote system is Unix-based, 'ls -l' will give the familiar output. On Sim- tel20, there is a file available in the default anonymous ftp directory that explains what Simtel20 is, and where files are located. The name is 'SIMTEL-ARCHIVES.INFO.nn, where ".nn" is a file generation number. You don't need to specify the file generation number when requesting the file. In fact, it's better not to because you will always get the latest generation that way.

Unix systems will all have the familiar directory structure, and moving around is done with the familiar 'cd' or 'cwd' command. TOPS-20 systems have a different structure, but movement is still accomplished with the 'cd' command.

Different systems have different organizations for their files, and the above example is just the way I have it set up. By 'poking' around other systems, you can learn how their files are set up, and zip around much faster. Note, however, that FTP will not allow you outside the FTP 'root' directory, usually ~ftp on most systems. So, poking about the entire system is not permitted.


Lynx is a fully-featured World Wide Web ( WWW ) client.  It will display Hypertext Markup Language ( HTML ) documents containing links to files on the local system, as well as files on remote systems running http , gopher , ftp , wais , nntp , finger , or cso / ph / qi servers, and services accessible via logins to telnet , tn3270 or rlogin accounts.

To access Lynx on Nyx using the Menu system,

  • choose 'c' for communications menu
  • choose 'i' for internet menu
  • choose 'l' for lynx


Setting up your Home Page
Adding a Counter and Statistics
Nyx User Home Pages

Setting up your Home Page

Serving HTML is easy. Everyone else is doing it.

Setting up a homepage on Nyx is a 2 stage process:

  • Set up your web directory on www.nyx.net
  • Create your home page

We have attempted to make this as simple as possible:

  • to create your webspace run the program: mkwebdir
  • to make a standard homepage for yourself run the program: mkhomepage

Both of these programs are located in the /nyx/bin directory.
If you are a menu user, you will need to preceed the commands with an exclamation mark '!' (i.e.: !mkwebdir)

Your web address will be of the form: http://www.nyx.net/~pgregg/
You can access your webfiles directly at: /nyx/web/(first-initial)/(second-initial)/username,
e.g. /nyx/web/p/g/pgregg

For help with authoring web pages, you might want to query a search engine (such as AltaVista , Excite , or Yahoo ) or read the HTML Authoring newsgroup.

Adding a Counter and Statistics to your Home Page

The Web server automatically generates webserver statistics at midnight each night. These give details on server accesses from the beginning of the month until the present.
You can access the statistics via the Web at: http://www.nyx.net/stats.html or via News in nyx.stats.

To add a counter to your page you must:

  • Call the file something.html3 or something.ssi (i.e. it must end in .ssi or .html3 )
  • Add the following to the file where you want the counter:
    <!--#include virtual="/ssi/counter.cgi"-->
    i.e. literally copy this code into your .ssi file
  • If you want this to be on your home page, you must rename your index.html or home.html to index.ssi or home.ssi.

Access logs for the previous day is available in the file /nyx/web/access_log
and for the day previous to that in /nyx/web/access_log.old

Currently the full monthly access logs are not being made available.

Nyx User Home Pages

Click here for our regularly updated list of Nyx users' homepages



Since Nyx is a run by volunteers we do not have a bank of support personnel waiting eagerly for you support questions. If you need assistance try these steps:

Nyx Net
P.O.Box 16143
Golden, CO 80402

Send mail to webmaster@nyx.net with questions or comments about this web site.

Copyright © 1999 - 2020 Nyx Net
Nyx® is a registered trademark of Nyx Net, a Colorado Non-Profit Corporation
Latest modified: 2020.08.22 bcohen