Frequently Asked Questions

Version 1.5, last modified on 1998/05/19

changes and additions are shown in red

  1. What's it all about?1998.05.19
  2. Where is the server located?
  3. How do I connect to our server?
  4. Who is the Webmaster?
  5. How do I write a web page?
  6. How do I get my pages published?
  7. What is the server configuration?1998.02.06
  8. What is the structure of the site?
  9. Why is index.html required?
  10. Can I use long filenames?
  11. Which file extensions should I use?
  12. What if I want to create or install a CGI application?
  13. What if I want to create or install Java applets?
  14. How do I maintain my own web pages?

What's it all about?

We are in the process of creating a World Wide Web site. The process has been ongoing since January 1997. This web site is intended as a learning and research tool for students, staff, and faculty in Communications and Information Technology programs at Niagara College, and for guidance to students considering application for admission to these programs.

Where is the server located?

The server machine is physically located in the Computer Systems Lab, L-17A. It is connected to the College's Internet backbone, and from there to the outside world via a T1 line. The network Internet Protocol (IP) address is The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address is


Our URL is also aliased to http://www.technology.niagarac.on.ca/

How do I connect to our server?

To connect to our server, an Internet connection is required, either via the College backbone, or via a dial-up Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as ICAN, Vaxxine, or Sympatico. To view pages from our server, a graphical web browser such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer is recommended.

Who is the Webmaster?

Currently, Mike Boldin, Computer Engineering Technology, is the person who looks after our web server. To contact Mike, visit his office in L-17, ring his telephone at extension 7400 and/or leave a voice mail, drop a note or disk in his mailbox in L-6, or send him e-mail at mboldin@niagarac.on.ca. He's always eager to hear comments (positive, negative, or otherwise) about our site.


How do I write a web page?

There are several avenues to this end. Netscape Navigator Gold 3 and Netscape Communicator 4 have built-in web page editors. Both feature the "Netscape Page Wizard", which guides you step-by-step through creating a web page. Netscape also offers web page templates from their site, from which you can customize your own page. Or you can create your page from scratch using their graphical editor.

Another avenue is to use HTML or web page editor software. You can use commerical software such as Microsoft Front Page 98, or Claris Home Page, or obtain shareware/freeware from the Web. A good place to find such software is Tucows.

Finally, learn the HTML language and write your pages by hand, using your favorite text editor, such as Brief, Windows Notepad, vi or emacs. This method gives you the most control over the structure of your pages, and can be combined with any or all of the previously described approaches.

An inexpensive book from which to learn HTML is Writing Web Pages by Maria Canham. It is available in the College Bookstore and provides a solid overview of web page construction, including the use of multimedia.

Finally, using any of the above methods, you do not have to write your pages from scratch everytime. Since HTML documents on the World Wide Web are publicly accessible, you can find a page whose structure you like, and save it as HTML. (For example, in Netscape Navigator, click on the File menu and select "Save As". The current page will be saved as a text file containing the HTML code. The same can be done with graphics, by clicking the right mouse buttton and selecting "Save Image As").

HTML templates, samples, and other useful documents are provided on our web site at



How do I get my pages published?

There are two ways to get your pages published on our server. The first is to deliver the contents of your page on a diskette to the Webmaster. Pages submitted in this manner will be installed or updated the same day (usually within an hour or two) of receipt. All HTML files, graphics or other multimedia files, and any other required files must be submitted.

The second approach is to obtain your own user account on the server. Then you can use standard Internet applications, such as telnet and ftp, to maintain your own page(s). Accounts are created and maintained by the Webmaster. It is hoped that, eventually, every faculty and staff member will use his or her account.

The Webmaster will ensure that hyperlinks within our site are properly constructed. It is each page author's responsibility to ensure that hyperlinks local to the page or to external sites are functioning properly. Web page content is also the responsibility of the respective author. The Webmaster will not preview, censor, correct spelling or grammar, or otherwise control content.

Upon installation of a new page, a link will be added to the What's New page:


What is the server configuration?

The server itself is a Pentium-class PC, with 48 MB of RAM and 3 GB of SCSI disk. The current (as at May 19, 1998) operating system is FreeBSD 2.2.2, running Apache 1.2.6 web server software.

It is important to note that our site is also an experimental one. As such, the underlying hardware and software will, from time to time, change. View the About This Site link:


for information about the current state of things.

In fact, to improve server accessibility, maintainability, and reliability, we have been running FreeBSD, a free implementation of the Unix operating system, and to Apache web server software (also free), the most popular server software on the Internet.


What is the structure of the site?

The HTML documents and other files are organized as follows: The filesystem is organized as follows:
top-level-directory (/usr/wwwhome)
 |           |         |       |        |         |         |
cgi-bin/ index.html images/ public/  people/  courses/     students/
 |       about.html    |       |        |         |         |           
 |       ...      niagarac.gif |        |         *        index.html
CGI applications  powered.gif  |        |    (see below)  + directories
(e.g., access counter,    ...  |        |               for each student
 image mapper, bulletin        |        |
 board applications, etc.)     |        |
                               |        |
 +--------------+--------------+        +---------+--------+-------+ ...
 |              |              |        |         |        |       | 
index.html    images/        video/  index.html images/ mboldin/ jclark/
programs.html   |              |                  |        |       |
cotech.html   blueball.gif   micro.avi        world.jpg    |      ...
video.html    intro.jpg      nc160.mov       button-h.gif  |
 ...            ...           ...                 ...      |
                               |          |           |
                           index.html   images/      faq/
                           guitar.html    |           |
                               ...        MB.gif   misc-fitness-faq.txt
                                    fractal-line.gif   powerlifting.html
                                         ...             ...
  +--+-------+---------+----------------+-------------------+ ...
  |          |         |                |                   |
index.html images/  comp530/         comp641/             elnc645/
             |         |                |                    ...
        button-h.gif   |      +---------+--+--------------+ ...
           ...         |      |            |              |    
                       |   index.html    images           c
  +--------------+-----+   pos.tar.gz      |              |
  |              |         jargon.zip     winsock.gif     pipe.c
index.html     images      claremont.pdf  portmapper.jpg  pipetest.c
picprog.zip      |         onc-rpc.html   button-h.gif     ...
test.asm      bar.gif      unzip.exe       ...
brbuddy.htm   brbuddy.jpg     ...  
adc0831.doc   brbuddy2.jpg
 ...            ...
As you can see, each "page" is in its own directory, with index.html (the main page),  sub-pages, an images directory, and other related files and/or directories. Only index.html is mandatory; the images directory is strongly recommended.


Why is index.html required?

index.html is the default document name. It is a security feature provided by most web server software. Its functionality is twofold: first, the server software will not allow access to a directory without an index.html document (unless the full URL is specified); second, it allows URLs of the form:


to be used. For example, with index.html the URL for Mike Boldin's directory is:


If index.html was not present in Mike's directory, using the above URL would cause the server to return Error 403 (Access denied) to the browser. However, the guitar.html file could still be accessed with by specifying its full URL:


The default document name can be anything; index.html is probably the most common, and it is what we have chosen to use.


Can I use long filenames?

Yes. FreeBSD, like most Unix operating systems, supports long filenames, as will any subsequent server operating system that we choose to install.

Note:  unlike those on MS-DOS or Windows 95/NT, Unix filesystems are truly case-sensitive. That is, index.html and INDEX.HTML are treated as two distinct filenames.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to use unique filenames, and use the proper spelling of filenames (with regard to case) in your HTML code. For example, if the name of a graphics file is myValuableFace.gif, the HTML code to display this file should be:

  <img src="images/myValuableFace.gif">

Try to avoid using spaces in your filenames. Not all browsers support this, nor does the Unix backup software. Either replace spaces with dashes or underscores, or eliminate them altogether.


Which file extensions should I use?

The following extensions are strongly recommended:

What if I want to create or install a CGI application?

Common Gateway Interface (CGI) applications are run on the server to process data from forms, count web page accesses, and so on. Several common and useful CGI applications will be installed by the Webmaster. Check the samples page on our site at


If you would like to write your own, the most common programming languages to use are C and Perl.  These languages are installed on the server itself.

Please contact the Webmaster to install your own CGI applications or those you download from the World Wide Web. CGI applications must be installed in the /cgi-bin directory.


What if I want to create or install Java applets?

Java applets can be installed in your personal or course directories. Since Java is portable across different architectures, you can compile your Java applet under, say, OS/2 Warp, and run them under Windows 95 without recompiling. Simply install the .class files that you need. Check the samples page on our site for Java applets that are already installed:



How do I maintain my own web pages?

First, create your own web pages and images, and test the pages on your local computer with a browser.

Second, you must obtain a user account from the Webmaster.

Locate or install Telnet (remote access) and FTP (file transfer) applications on your computer.  Windows 95/NT and OS/2 Warp ship with built-in applications (telnet.exe and ftp.exe); freeware or shareware Telnet applications are available for Windows 3.x and MacOS, as well, and can be found at the Tucows WWW site at:


You transfer your files to your home directory or course directory via FTP.

You can then connect to the server using the Telnet service to manipulate any files.  Telnet to either the IP address ( or to the hostname, technology.niagarac.on.ca.

When you log in, you will be placed in your Unix home directory (for example,
/home/mboldin).  This directory can be used to hold all of your files.

In your Unix home directory, there is a subdirectory called public_html, which is actually a link to your WWW home directory, e.g. /usr/wwwhome/people/mboldin.  You can transfer files directly into this directory, or copy/move them there from your Unix home directory.

Remember, we are running a Unix operating system, so familiar Microsoft commands like dir, copy, move, and del may not be recognized. The Unix equivalents are ls, cp, mv, and rm, respectively. If in doubt, the man (shows the reference manual page) command is available; for example, man intro or man ls. Furthermore, editing documents on the server is possible (via emacs or vi, as is compilation of C-language CGI applications (via gcc).  To learn more about Unix, consult the online Unix tutorial:


To illustrate, a sample FTP session might look as follows (text in blue is actually typed in by the user):

c:\www>ftp technology.niagarac.on.ca
Connected to technology.niagarac.on.ca.
220 technology.niagarac.on.ca FTP server (Version 6.00) ready.
User (technology.niagarac.on.ca:(none)): mboldin
331 Password required for mboldin.
230 User mboldin logged in.
ftp> pwd
257 "/usr/home/mboldin" is current directory.
ftp> asc
200 Type set to A.
ftp> put faq.html
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for 'faq.html'.
226 Transfer complete.
24356 bytes sent in 0.22 seconds (110.71 Kbytes/sec)
ftp> bin
200 Type set to I.
ftp> put button-h.gif button-home.gif
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for 'button-home.gif'.
226 Transfer complete.
284 bytes sent in 0.00 seconds (284000.00 Kbytes/sec)
ftp> dir
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for '/bin/ls'.
total 66
-rw-r--r--  1 mboldin  wwwusers    483 Aug 25 09:58 .cshrc
-rw-------  1 mboldin  wwwusers   1517 Aug 25 10:00 .history
-rw-r--r--  1 mboldin  wwwusers    619 Apr  8 10:13 .login
-rw-r--r--  1 mboldin  wwwusers    290 Apr  8 10:13 .mailrc
-rw-r--r--  1 mboldin  wwwusers   1203 Apr  8 10:13 .profile
-rw-------  1 mboldin  wwwusers    257 Apr  8 10:13 .rhosts
-rw-r--r--  1 mboldin  wwwusers    284 Aug 27 13:03 button-home.gif
-rw-r--r--  1 mboldin  wwwusers  23917 Aug 27 13:03 faq.html
lrwxrwxrwx  1 root     wwwusers     27 Aug 15 19:45 public_html -> /usr/wwwhome/people/mboldin
226 Transfer complete.
603 bytes received in 0.06 seconds (10.05 Kbytes/sec)
ftp> quit
221 Goodbye.


A sample Telnet session may look like the following:

FreeBSD (technology.niagarac.on.ca) (ttyp0)

login: mboldin
Last login: Fri Aug 15 14:18:12 on ttyv0
Copyright (c) 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994
        The Regents of the University of California.  All rights reserved.

FreeBSD 2.2.2-RELEASE (GENERIC) #0: Tue May 20 10:45:24 GMT 1997

Welcome to the Niagara College Technology WWW Server, now powered by FreeBSD!

The FreeBSD Handbook is in /usr/share/doc/handbook and the FAQ in

% pwd
% ls
button-home.gif faq.html        public_html
% ls -l
total 25
-rw-r--r--  1 mboldin  wwwusers    284 Aug 27 13:03 button-home.gif
-rw-r--r--  1 mboldin  wwwusers  23917 Aug 27 13:03 faq.html
lrwxrwxrwx  1 root     wwwusers     27 Aug 15 19:45 public_html -> /usr/wwwhome/people/mboldin
% ls public_html
audio           faq             junk            rasslin.html    whatsnew.html
contents.html   guitar.html     mbhome.led      truck.html
decaf.html      images          nav.html        tubeamps.html
edisgod.html    index.html      plain           weights.html
% mv button-home.gif public_html/images
% mv faq.html server-faq.html
% cp server-faq.html public_html
% ls
public_html     server-faq.html
% rm server-faq.html
% ls
% exit

Once on the server, pages can be tested with your local browser.

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