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Shell club FAQ

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about usage of shell account in Hyderabad DoT's system. The suggestions given below, and the facilities offered are only for the usage of shellclub members.

This list is far from being exhaustive or complete. It cannot be, unless YOU contribute questions (and answers).

IMPORTANT: If you find any of the questions confusing, or if you find any answer not very clear or accurate, or if you have a better solution to a problem, or if you have any suggestion -- please e mail to the shell club. It is everybody's responsibility to keep these pages accurate and useful.

If you wish to know more about the shellclub, click here and visit the home page of the shellclub.


  1. Where do I learn more about DoT/vnsl Internet services ?
  2. What housekeping chores am I expected to do ?

    Shell club
  3. What to do when I have a problem ?
  4. How do I send mail to the shell club (using PINE) members ?
  5. How do I submit a question, an answer, or my suggestions and feedback to the shell club Administrator ?

    File transfers
  6. How do I transfer files to/from my PC ?
  7. How do I transfer folders from the DoT machine ?
  8. How do I transfer my addressbook from the DoT machine (and vice-versa)?

    E mail
  9. How do I append my name and address (signature) automatically to all my outgoing messages ?

    Web browsing
  10. Sometimes I cannot start Lynx from the top-menu. What do I do ?

  1. Where do I learn about using DoT/VSNL Internet services ?

    There is a lot of helpful material available on the web.
    Click here to go to the sources of help.


  2. What housekeeping chores must I perform ?

    Good and routine housekeeping of your account will always protect you from nasty experiences. Here are a few simple steps:
    1. Delete unnecessary message from your folders. Open each folder, and delete all obsolete/unwanted messages (use D).
    2. Delete unnecessary folders. You can delete entire folders using the Pine menu.
    3. If you find files called "core" and "deadletter" in your Unix level, remove them (rm core) (rm dead*).
    4. Change your password every month. There are more people trying to snoop into your account than you can ever imagine.
    5. Remove all (unnecessary) files from the Unix prompt level.
    6. Take backups of your addressbook regularly.


  3. What to do when I have a problem using the shell account ?
    1. Send an e mail to the shell club, to find out if others have the same problem, and if anybody has found any solution. Chances are, someone in the shell club will have an answer to your pryaer. If this does not work, go to the next step.....
    2. Send an e mail to the "helpdesk". Remember, the "helpdesk" will not respond to problems which are on your own PC or modem. The "helpdesk" will also not guide you/teach you on how to use the Internet.
      Copy your helpdesk e mail, to the shell club, so everybody knows that you have lodged a complaint. If this does not work, go to the next step......
    3. Call up DoT......
      1. Complaints desk: 237774 / 233311
      2. Assistant Divsnl. Engineer: 240506
      3. Divisional Engineer: 233688
      4. Area manager: 242473 / 200300

      Please note that the numbers given above can (and do) change without notice. If you come across any changes, inform the shell club AT ONCE. Start from the Complaints desk and work towards the bottom of the list. If you have any difficulty, send an e mail to the shell club for follow up.
      And, if this does not work .....
    4. Write to the DoT (send a Registered letter):
      Divisional Engineer (Internet)
      4th Floor -- Telephone Bhavan
      Hyderabad 500 004
    5. And, when your problem does get solved, or if you find any interesting solution, do inform the shell club. We must all learn from your experience.


  4. How do I send mail to the shell club members (using PINE) ?

    The procedure given below will become far simpler very soon when we switch over to a mailing list host (wait for details).

    We describe usage of PINE here, because PINE is the only official e mail handler software provided by DoT on your shell account. If you are using any other software for sending/receiving e mail (e.g. EUDORA), you will have to read the software's manuals to know how to create a mailing list and how to send BCC.
    Create a "nickname" (say club) in your addressbook with the addresses of all shell club members. Do NOT use the nickname "club" in the To: field of your PINE mailer. If you do that, everybody gets an irritatingly long list of names first before reaching the message. Instead, use the Bcc facility as follows:
    1. In the subject line, put: "To all shell club members".
    2. In the To: field, put your own e mail address.
    3. Move to CC field, and type CTRL-R (press CTRL and R together)
      You get some more fields to be filled in.
    4. Move to the BCC field, and type club. The list of addresses you stored earlier in this nickname, appear automatically.
    5. Go to the message field, and fill in your message.
    6. ... and send your message with a CTRL-X. Each member will now get a message addressed to him/her only. He/she will infer from the subject line that it was originally a message addressed to all shell club members.
    We hope to move to a much simpler system very soon (as soon as we get a mailing list host to sponsor us). The CONVENOR is working on this.


  5. How do I send my sugggestions, feedback, etc. to the shellclub Administrator ?

    That's very easy: just click here.....


  6. How do I send files to the DoT machine ? How do I get files from the DoT machine ?

    This question cannot be answered fully in this FAQ. There is copious amounts of help files available on the DoT system. Locate them, and read them thoroughly. Here are a few points to remember:
    1. DoT uses two softwares for transfering files: zmodem, and kermit. z modem is simple, fast but very very limited. Kermit is very rich, relatively complex to learn, but extremely rich in functionality.
    2. The software you use at the DoT end must be the same as the one you use at your end. In other words, you cannot use zmodem to send/receive files if your PC runs only kermit (and vice-versa).
    3. Learn how to invoke z modem/kermit on your PC. Read the help texts usually available on your PC.


  7. How do I transfer "folders" from PINE to my PC (for backup) ?

    PINE saves your messages in "folders" (e.g. INBOX, sent-mail, saved-messages, or any other folder which you may create). It is a good habit to copy entire folders from the DoT machine, to your PC, as a precaution. This will give you the assurance of having safe, backup copies on your PC. You also protect your personal messages from prying eyes, by removing them (the folders) from the DoT machine. And, it releases expensive disk space from the DoT machine, since you have only a limited quota on the disk.
    Here's how to download folders to your machine:
    1. Checkup folders on your account. Use the command:
      ls -l ./mail
    2. Transfer each folder (say myfolder) by:
      sz -be ./mail/myfolder
      (if you are using z modem)
      send ./mail/myfolder
      (if you are using kermit)
    3. The above procedure will work for all folders except INBOX. For saving your INBOX, do (replace username by your own user-name):

      sz -be ./usr/spool/mail/username
      (if you are using z modem)
      send .usr/spool/mail/username
      (if you are using kermit)


  8. How do I safeguard my address book ?

    One of the worst things that can happen to you is to lose your address book from the DoT machine (this has indeed happened once too often). Here's how you protect yourself from this catastrophe:
    1. Copy the address book to a file, by:
      cp .addressbook address.bok
      (The dot is important)
    2. Send the address.bok file to your PC (use z modem/kermit)
    And when you lose the addressbook on the DoT machine, do exactly the above, in reverse sense !


  9. How do I append my address (signature) to all outgoing messages ?

    Create a text-only file (let's call it myfile) on your PC, giving your postal address, phone, FAX details. In fact, you can add any slogan or any personal words-of-wisdom, as long as it is text-only. Do not make this file too long (keep it to no more than 5 lines). Remember, the file must be text-only i.e. ascii file.
    Upload this file to your account at DoT.
    Copy this file to a file called .signature (the dot is important). Use the Unix command:
    cp myfile .signature

    That's all. Pine will automatically append this file to all your outgoing messages. Try it !
    Remove the original file you uploaded, use:
    rm myfile

    There is another way to do this too :
    1. Login to your account.
    2. Choose e-mail (Option 1). This will invoke the "pine" software.
    3. Choose S (for Setup)
    4. Choose S (for Signature). This will bring up a blank file. You can type in your "signature" i.e. your address etc., in the style you want. If there is a signature file already, the existing file will be shown. You can thus modify an existing file too.
    5. After you have done, press CTRL-X together, to save your new signature file.
    This second method has the following advantage/disadvantage:
    Advantage: It is easier. No file transfer etc. Can be used for modifying an existing signature file.
    Disadvantage: It is done on-line, so you must not squander time deciding what to put in your signature file, and what layout to choose etc.


  10. Sometimes I cannot start Lynx from the top-menu. What do I do ?

    Most frequently this happens because the default web page is not accessible. Your Lynx tries to open a default web page setup by VSNL. And when the VSNL host is down or inaccessible (that happens often) you cannot start Lynx from the top-level menu. Instead, go to the Unix prompt. And type:


    Note: There is a blank space after lynx above. And then the rest of the text does not have any blank space. Of course, you must press ENTER after you type the above.

    You will get a very good list of links, including all the popular search engines. In fact, you must bookmark this page, so you can use it more frequently. There is also a possibility to include this page as the default page for your Lynx browser, by going to the setup procedure. You can do that too, if you are an advanced user.


Note: Contributions to this FAQ are welcome from anybody. Please e mail your contribution to the Convenor.

Thank you for your visit.
Do get in touch.

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