Frequently Asked Questions and Tech Tips

FreeShells.ch FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is this site so primative looking?
A: Well, users who are looking for text-based unix shells probably don't care too much about the graphical appearance. They are more interested in the functionality of the shell environment (which is excellent!).

Q: I want some software or an additional feature installed. Will you do it?
A: Maybe. Send a request to sysadmin@freeshells.ch and it will be evaluated. If it could be useful for the general freeshells.ch user population, it may be added.

Q: A user at Freeshells.ch set up a website that looks just like my Bank, and they are asking for passwords and other personal information. What should I do?
A: This is an illegal phishing site created to fraudulantly mislead people and steal passwords. Please notify abuse@freeshells.ch right away, and we will shut it down. (ok, this question is not frequently asked, but we want to scare away any potential phishermen)

Q: Does freeshells.ch make any money?
A: No. It is strictly non-profit and non-commercial. All funding, hardware, software, bandwidth, and system administration comes from donations and volunteers.

Q: There are so many free shell providers, why was freeshells.ch created?
A: There are a lot of free shell providers available, but most provide very locked down unix systems or networks. FreeShells.ch tries to be open and provide a rich and customizable user environment.

Q: Can I volunteer to help freeshells.ch?
A: Sure. Translating the web pages pages into other languages would be helpful. Feedback/ideas for the default shell environment and available software are very welcome. Hardware donations, especially trusty hardware from Sun Microsystems, would also be helpful.

Q: Do you monitor/spy on users like Big Brother?
A: No, but quite a few things are logged. Providing a free and open environment also attracts people who intend to misuse and abuse the system. Logs help in the investigation of such incidents and serve as evidence if criminal activity is reported.

Q: Why do you offer insecure services like ftp and telnet?
A: FreeShells.ch is intended to be a full featured environment with both traditional and secure access. There are also secure alternatives like ssh, scp, and sftp, so the level of security is your choice.

Q: I forgot my password. Now what?
A: Send a copy of the original registration email to sysadmin@freeshells.ch along with a request to reset the password.

Q: Will you host my domain? Can you set up a web interface for configuring my account? How about webmail?
A: No. The focus is currently on providing full featured shell accounts. Things like a web-portals, or domain parking/hosting, etc. are not within the scope of FreeShells.ch at this time.

Q: I am stuck behind a corporate firewall! How can I access my account?
A: Some companies have outbound telnet proxies available. Most ftp proxies will allow you to login, try ftp://username@freeshells.ch in your browser (Firefox might need a plugin for uploading). There is also http and https access to your user website.

FreeShells.ch Technical Tips

To check how much disk space you have left, type "quota".

To check what kind of restrictions you have, type "ulimit -a"

To use cryptographic authentication, create a ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file with your cryptographic public key, and then set your password to around 20 random characters.

To have your FreeShells.ch email automatically forwarded somewhere else, create a ".forward" file in your home directory containing the destination email address.

If you don't need a personal webpage, you can increase the security of your files by typing "chmod 700 /home/yourusername"

To change the startup script, edit .profile

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