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What is telnet?

Note: SSH is required to establish remote terminal connections to Indiana University's central systems. SSH is similar to telnet, but is far more secure; see What are SSH and SSH2?

Telnet is a protocol that allows you to connect to remote computers (called hosts) over a TCP/IP network (such as the Internet). Using telnet client software on your computer, you can make a connection to a telnet server (i.e., the remote host). Once your telnet client establishes a connection to the remote host, your client becomes a virtual terminal, allowing you to communicate with the remote host from your computer. In most cases, you'll need to log into the remote host, which requires that you have an account on that system. Occasionally, you can log in as guest or public without having an account.

Telnet clients are available for all major operating systems.

Command-line telnet clients are built into most versions of Mac OS X, Windows, Unix, and Linux. To use these clients, go to their respective command lines (i.e., the Terminal application in Mac OS X, the shell in Unix or Linux, or the DOS prompt in Windows), and then enter:

telnet host port

Replace host with the address of the service, and port with the port number on which the service runs (e.g., 80 for http).

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Last modified on November 18, 2013.

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