FETCH(1) BSD General Commands Manual FETCH(1)


fetch — retrieve a file by Uniform Resource Locator


fetch [−146AFMPRUadlmnpqrsv] [−B bytes] [−S bytes] [−T seconds] [−N file] [−o file] [−w seconds] [−h host] [−c dir] [−f file] [URL ...]


The fetch utility provides a command-line interface to the fetch(3) library. Its purpose is to retrieve the file(s) pointed to by the URL(s) on the command line.

The following options are available:


Stop and return exit code 0 at the first successfully retrieved file.


Forces fetch to use IPv4 addresses only.


Forces fetch to use IPv6 addresses only.


Do not automatically follow ’’temporary’’ (302) redirects. Some broken Web sites will return a redirect instead of a not-found error when the requested object does not exist.


Automatically retry the transfer upon soft failures.

−B bytes

Specify the read buffer size in bytes. The default is 4096 bytes. Attempts to set a buffer size lower than this will be silently ignored. The number of reads actually performed is reported at verbosity level two or higher (see the −v flag).

−c dir

The file to retrieve is in directory dir on the remote host. This option is deprecated and is provided for backward compatibility only.


Use a direct connection even if a proxy is configured.


In combination with the −r flag, forces a restart even if the local and remote files have different modification times. Implies −R.

−f file

The file to retrieve is named file on the remote host. This option is deprecated and is provided for backward compatibility only.

−h host

The file to retrieve is located on the host host. This option is deprecated and is provided for backward compatibility only.


If the target is a file-scheme URL, make a symbolic link to the target rather than trying to copy it.


Mirror mode: if the file already exists locally and has the same size and modification time as the remote file, it will not be fetched. Note that the −m and −r flags are mutually exclusive.

−N file

Use file instead of ~/.netrc to look up login names and passwords for FTP sites. See ftp(1) for a description of the file format. This feature is experimental.


Don’t preserve the modification time of the transferred file.

−o file

Set the output file name to file. By default, a ’’pathname’’ is extracted from the specified URI, and its basename is used as the name of the output file. A file argument of ’-’ indicates that results are to be directed to the standard output. If the file argument is a directory, fetched file(s) will be placed within the directory, with name(s) selected as in the default behaviour.


Use passive FTP. This is useful if you are behind a firewall which blocks incoming connections. Try this flag if fetch seems to hang when retrieving FTP URLs.


Quiet mode.


The output files are precious, and should not be deleted under any circumstances, even if the transfer failed or was incomplete.


Restart a previously interrupted transfer. Note that the −m and −r flags are mutually exclusive.

−S bytes

Require the file size reported by the server to match the specified value. If it does not, a message is printed and the file is not fetched. If the server does not support reporting file sizes, this option is ignored and the file is fetched unconditionally.


Print the size in bytes of each requested file, without fetching it.

−T seconds

Set timeout value to seconds. Overrides the environment variables FTP_TIMEOUT for FTP transfers or HTTP_TIMEOUT for HTTP transfers if set.


When using passive FTP, allocate the port for the data connection from the low (default) port range. See ip(4) for details on how to specify which port range this corresponds to.


Increase verbosity level.

−w seconds

When the −a flag is specified, wait this many seconds between successive retries.

If fetch receives a SIGINFO signal (see the status argument for stty(1)), the current transfer rate statistics will be written to the standard error output, in the same format as the standard completion message.


The fetch command returns zero on success, or one on failure. If multiple URLs are listed on the command line, fetch will attempt to retrieve them each of them in turn, and return zero only if they were all successfully retrieved.


maximum time, in seconds, to wait before aborting an FTP connection.


maximum time, in seconds, to wait before aborting an HTTP connection.

All environment variables mentioned in the documentation for the fetch(3) library are supported. A number of these are quite important to the proper operation of fetch; you are strongly encouraged to read fetch(3) as well.




The fetch command appeared in FreeBSD 2.1.5. This implementation first appeared in FreeBSD 4.1.


The original implementation of fetch was done by Jean-Marc Zucconi <jmz [AT]>. It was extensively re-worked for FreeBSD 2.2 by Garrett Wollman <wollman [AT]>, and later completely rewritten to use the fetch(3) library by Dag-Erling Smørgrav <des [AT]>.


The −b and −t options are no longer supported and will generate warnings. They were workarounds for bugs in other OSes which this implementation does not trigger.

One cannot both use the −h, −c and −f options and specify URLs on the command line.

BSD March 11, 2003 BSD