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OS X Odyssey 75 - Freeware FTP Clients; Captain FTP 1.2 And RBrowser Lite
Applelinks, 19 Mar 2002
by Applelinks Contributing Editor Charles W. Moore

My FTP client needs are modest but frequent, essentially uploading files to Applelinks and my personal Websites. In the legacy Mac OS, my FTP tool of choice is Vicomsoft's excellent but not very imaginatively named Vicom FTP Client -- the freeware version that Vicomsoft calls "Shareware" to distinguish it from the full-featured commercial software version. The more limited basic version is quite adequate for my needs, supporting five simultaneous file uploads and featuring nice, informative, progress dialogues. However, Vicom FTP Client has not yet been ported to OS X.

Happily, there are several good OS X FTP clients available, including the venerable Fetch, Panic Software's solid and dependable Transmit, and RBrowser, to name a few. In the freeware column, there are also several choices, including the German Captain FTP, and RBrowser Lite -- a feature-reduced version of RBrowser, both of which released new versions in the past week.

Even if you already have a Mac OS X FTP client that you're happy with, you've got to pay a visit to the Captain FTP Website, which is one of the best and most entertaining I've encountered. Of course, being a sailor, I couldn't resist the home page graphics.

The site is packed with content -- lots of documentation about Captain FTP; chat and forum pages; some nice, downloadable "wallpaper" desktop picture graphics; and extremely cool cannon shot muzzle flash animated graphics when you click on navigation buttons.

As for the application itself, I like Captain FTP. The interface is very attractive, and the preferences panel permits extensive tailoring to your particular needs and tastes. I found that Captain FTP works fine on our servers, although it is not as fast as my stand by Vicom client, and progress info is a bit sparse.

Captain FTP 1.2 is a brand-new FTP client for MacOS X from Xnet Communication GmbH ofGermany, is advanced, open and easy-to-use. It shares tasks between separate threads, enabling users to set up unlimited simultaneous connections. The time-consuming functions (uploading and downloading) don't block the system. Instead, they leave it available for user request.

Captain FTP was designed from scratch for Mac OS X, and first released at the end of December 2001. After just two months Captain FTP 1.0 was downloaded by over 15 thousand Mac users and is listed on the 19th place on the "Top Picks" (the most wanted software) for Mac OS X at

"We were completely surprised by the Mac users enthusiasm. We achieved so much positive feedback about our Captain FTP" says Wolfgang Falz - project manager of Captain FTP.

Captain FTP 1.2 is now ready to be a product. The already user friendly interface of the beta-version has been further improved and reflects Aqua even more.

The most important task of a FTP client is the ability to move files back and forth. Captain FTP makes this as easy as pressing the "Put" and "Get" buttons, or you may simply use drag and drop.

Captain FTP includes support for most file formats and includes sophisticated logic to automatically select the right format or transfer mode. Captain FTP supports resume of downloads even if you have quit the program or your computer has crashed during the transfer.

Captain FTP lets you synchronize a folder on your Mac with a directory on your server, with one command, transferring only the files that have changed. You may save the command as a mirror document, which can be placed in your Apple Menu for one-click site updates. You may even mirror directories between two different servers.

Copy manager allows to create the list of files scheduled for transfer, similar to the one used in Internet Explorer®. Files contained in the list can be copied simultaneously or in any given order. Files can be also removed from the list at any time. While the files are being copied in the background the user can perform other operations.

Segmented downloading is an extra functionality enabling the user to divide an individual file into several parts and download them simultaneously from the server. Once all the parts are downloaded they are being combined together to make a file in its original form. Segmented downloading greatly enhances the transfer speed, especially when the server is extremely busy.

If a connection loss occurs between the Captain FTP and the server, Captain FTP will resume downloading the file from the point where the connection was broken.

Text terminal is a more sophisticated version of service window. It enables the user to send any commands to FTP Server and receive the status of their realization. This function enables the user to take control over the server and perform specific or not implemented functions.

Features Version 1.2

  • Especially designed and completely new developed for Mac OS X
  • Simple navigation between directories
  • "Put/Get" quick button - to fast copy files and folders between locations
  • Drag and drop functionality
  • Transfer of single files or entire folders
  • Compatible with all FTP servers
  • Copying, renaming, creating and removing directories and files by a single mouse click
  • Managing bookmarks, quick connect, server and user lists defining FTP session parameters
  • Calculating the size of folders
  • Fast searching files or/and folders.
  • Global progress indicator displaying the estimated time remaining till the end of the transfer
  • Stop button enabling a user to stop every operation at any time, without the necessity of breaking up the connection with a server

New in this version:

  • double click on local file starts upload and download procedure
  • double click on local file while pressing option key opens the file
  • keyboard and mouse-scroll support
  • personalized address book (supports Mac OS X security)
  • simple remote and local login path setting
  • port specifications for a connection
  • firewall (proxy server) support
  • interface items improvements
  • face lifting (new logo, Captain FTP caption, buttons and more)
  • improved operation with certain FTP servers (time&date directory)
  • fixed turn off local browser
  • font management adjusted
  • problems with certain file types solved
  • deleting folders with all hidden files
  • fixed uploading and end of file error

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.0 or higher
  • PPC G3 or higher
  • 64 MB RAM
  • 5 MB free disk space

Captain FTP is freeware for personal use, although you must register after 15 days trial. There is a registration option to choose a free license for home users.

RBrowserLite Version

RBrowserLite, the freeware version of RBrowser, was built on MacosX 10.1.3 and it will not run on any earlier versions of OSX. This is the first shipping version of RBrowserLite for MacOSX.

RBrowserLite also works fine. The interface isn't as pretty as Captain FTP's, but it has one extremely cool feature that the Captain doesn't -- 0S X's three view options -- icons; list; and columns.

I found RBrowserLite speed to be about the same as Captain FTP's, and it likewise doesn't provide you with much progress information other than a simple progress bar.

RBrowserLite Features:

  • Remote File System Browser using FTP
  • Column, List or Icon View in all File Viewers
  • Drag and drop file transfers between Local and Remote hosts
  • Drag and drop file transfers between the Finder and all RBrowserLite File Viewers
  • All FTP Modes Supported: Binary, Automatic and Text
  • FTP File Transfer Restart
  • Local File System Browser
  • Support for Firewalls (SOCKS v4/4A)
  • Full MacBinary support
  • Character set translation in the browser
  • Automatic display of available file system space
  • Computes sizes of folders and file systems
  • Inspector window displays file attributes
  • Change file group, file owner (if root) and permissions
  • Set Type and Creator (on HFS+ only)
  • Customizable appearance
  • Automatic connection configuration
  • Supports all document types known to local system
  • Copy, move, remove, and rename files on remote system
  • Create/delete folders
  • Duplicate files and folders
  • Drag and drop user interface to transfer files between machines
  • Multiple simultaneous transfer operations
  • Character set translation in the browser
  • Filename translation between systems using different character sets
  • Network access to remote systems

Supported platforms:

  • MacOSX (PPC only)

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