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23.15 Remote Files

You can refer to files on other machines using a special file name syntax:


To carry out this request, Emacs uses either the FTP program or a remote-login program such as ssh, rlogin, or telnet. You can always specify in the file name which method to use—for example, ‘/ftp:user@host:filename’ uses FTP, whereas ‘/ssh:user@host:filename’ uses ssh. When you don't specify a method in the file name, Emacs chooses the method as follows:

  1. If the host name starts with ‘ftp.’ (with dot), then Emacs uses FTP.
  2. If the user name is ‘ftp’ or ‘anonymous’, then Emacs uses FTP.
  3. Otherwise, Emacs uses ssh.

Remote file access through FTP is handled by the Ange-FTP package, which is documented in the following. Remote file access through the other methods is handled by the Tramp package, which has its own manual. See The Tramp Manual: (tramp)Top section `Top' in The Tramp Manual.

When the Ange-FTP package is used, Emacs logs in through FTP using your user name or the name user. It may ask you for a password from time to time; this is used for logging in on host. The form using port allows you to access servers running on a non-default TCP port.

If you want to disable backups for remote files, set the variable ange-ftp-make-backup-files to nil.

By default, the auto-save files (see section Auto-Save Files) for remote files are made in the temporary file directory on the local machine. This is achieved using the variable auto-save-file-name-transforms.

Normally, if you do not specify a user name in a remote file name, that means to use your own user name. But if you set the variable ange-ftp-default-user to a string, that string is used instead.

To visit files accessible by anonymous FTP, you use special user names ‘anonymous’ or ‘ftp’. Passwords for these user names are handled specially. The variable ange-ftp-generate-anonymous-password controls what happens: if the value of this variable is a string, then that string is used as the password; if non-nil (the default), then the value of user-mail-address is used; if nil, then Emacs prompts you for a password as usual.

Sometimes you may be unable to access files on a remote machine because a firewall in between blocks the connection for security reasons. If you can log in on a gateway machine from which the target files are accessible, and whose FTP server supports gatewaying features, you can still use remote file names; all you have to do is specify the name of the gateway machine by setting the variable ange-ftp-gateway-host, and set ange-ftp-smart-gateway to t. Otherwise you may be able to make remote file names work, but the procedure is complex. You can read the instructions by typing M-x finder-commentary <RET> ange-ftp <RET>.

You can entirely turn off the FTP file name feature by removing the entries ange-ftp-completion-hook-function and ange-ftp-hook-function from the variable file-name-handler-alist. You can turn off the feature in individual cases by quoting the file name with ‘/:’ (see section Quoted File Names).

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