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Less is More: The Orthodox File Manager (OFM) Paradigm

by Dr Nikolai Bezroukov

Content : Foreword : Ch01 : Ch02 : Ch03 : Ch04 : Ch05 : Ch06 : Ch07 : OFM1999 : OFM2004 : OFM2012

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History of WinSCP Development

News WinSCP Recommended Links Recommended Papers OFM Book OFM Standards
Cheetsheet SSH for System Administrators Passwordless SSH login  WinSCP Tips Humor Etc


WinSCP was created by Martin Prikryl and like most OFMs is a one-man project. This the only high quality, active development project of OFM that is using GNU license,

He started this project in March 2000, while working in the IT department of University of Economics in Prague. The temporary name “WinSCP” (Windows Secure CoPy) was chosen until a nicer name was thought of (which never actually happened). Along with Filezilla, WinSCP was one of the first GUI clients for SSH on Microsoft Windows but from the very beginning it has higher quality. For some reason it was in ashadow of fileZilla for a long time. Only recently people started to understand that his is a much better, richer and more convinient application. As a client, I prefer it to Filezilla any time of the day.

This is an interesting product, not only due to talent and persistence of the author, Martin Prikryl but also because its popularity exposed one interesting feature about OFMs. Early OFMs were often used with one panel on a floppy drive and the other on the local hard drive. Predominant mode of usage of modern OFMs is with one panel of a remote site (sftp, ftp or other filesystem) and the other on the local hard drive).

WinSCP is definitely OFM of the year for 2014. As of December 2014, the current stable version is 5.5.6. Progress of this application was noted by many astute observes of such tools. For example it was listed among 30 cool applications by  the last year. This year it became better. this is actually pretty amazing and innovative OFM. with ability to have multiple scp sessions in the second panel, favorites and many more cool features. It have tab, saved sessions (with the ability to create icons for each !), favorites both for local filesystem and remote filesystem and many other useful features. Built-in editor is pretty good. Those who use Putty can open Putty for each saved remote host.

The set of currently open sessions, can be saves as workspace and restored later. Bookmarks can site-specific or shared -- nice feature that prevent clutter of bookmarks. Sessions can be copied (via "Clone to new site" option !) and edited.


WinSCP is a very good, flexible SFTP client, SCP  client, FTPS  client and FTP client  for Windows.  It uses PuTTY format of SSH keys. It can execute PuTTYgen and Pageant (from  Tools menu on Login dialog). With a built-in editor that works for remote files it beats competition such as FAR or Total Commander.

The most important advantage of WinSCP over similar tools is that several sessions are supported simultaneously and you can "stack" them  in a way you wish.  Switching is via convenient horizontal tabs. 

WinSCP provides very convenient integrated environment for working with Linux servers because it integrates well with Putty (a unique feature of WinSCP). No need to remember passwords anymore. It can launch Putty with the parameters stored on in WinSCP “sessions" allowing you to connect without further authentication. This ability to launch Putty with authentication settings taken from existing "session" in WinSCP makes it perfect launcher for Putty even if you do not use WinSCP features much.

Multiple sessions can be creates – one for each of your machines. Directories can be compared and newer file transferred to remote server or from the remote server with one click.

You can also compare individual files, which few other OFMs can do.

WinSCP take working with "directories favorites" to a new level. This is actually a very weak feature of FAR and it is absent from Total Commander. In WinSCP you can store frequently used directories inside you session or globally. The same true for windows desktop. If also provides you an ability to store favorites in two ways: per session and globally.  computer). This makes it a better sysadmin tool then many other OFMs, as navigating to the necessary directory in other OFMs is a more cumbersome process. 


WinSCP allows to edit files on the remote machine using built-in editor which is more user friendly that anything I know. This is unique capability to use standard windows style editor for editing files directly on Linux/Unix server. This is a notepad class editor, simple but very functional:

If your file requires a more complex editor you can configure if for specific extension, for example  for *.pl you can use Nodepad++ which allow you to use Perl aware editor on remote files without manually transferring files back and forth.

for some extensions instead of editor you can use some other application for example viewer.

There is a setting to allow to open command line at the bottom. The results of the command entered are displayed in a separate screen. There is a built-in history of commands in this screen. Actually a pretty neat implementation of the "third" windows of OFM in GUI environment.

WinSCP also  allows to view hidden files and directories Ctrl-Alt-H. Attributes of files can be not only viewed and changed but also changed recursively.

Standard for OFMs command line at the bottom can be activated via Shift-Ctrl-N. Execution of command invoke the third window which has history of commands.  

You can synch directories between Windows desktop and remote server and several other more complex things that enhance your productivity (it is a scriptable tool)

Like in any OFM files can be displayed using mask  (basic regular expressions) like in ls.

In many corporation this is a default tool for working with Linux servers

It is free and is licensed under GNU license. See History of WinSCP development for more details.



Please support this very interesting project

About donations

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Don't let it die like many other interesting OFM project from malnutrition

WinSCP is a Czech project which was started by Martin Prikryl around March 2000 while he was working at IT department of the University of Economics in Prague . As it is an open source project released under GPL with a single developer, there is a great danger that it dies from malnutrition.  So far, thanks God, this did not happen and the project is now 13 years old.  For OFM this is a pretty substantial term equal to the life span of Norton Commander (it lasted from 1984 to 1997 -- 13 years). It is also the only major OFM project that was launched in XXI century and managed to reach wide audience.

According to Martin Prikryl, the original idea came from Jan Havlicek.

In fact he wanted the tool a great deal. And he bothered me for weeks until I finally decided to implement it for him, without actually needing it myself beforehand. He was also the first one who spread the word about WinSCP on the Internet, before the project pages were set up.

During late 2000 distribution of the first releases of WinSCP 1.0 was started. The first WinSCP site was set up in October 2000 with the address It was designed by Katerina Sramkova. Version 1.0 supported the SCP protocol over SSH-1 only. There were several publicly available builds of the 1.0 release. Beside this there was never another release of the 1.x series. In addition to the English version, there was also a Czech one.

As version 1.0 was the first major project Martin Prikryl, its design suffered from multiple shortcomings.  But he did not abandon his project like many OFM authors do, but decided to continue, rewriting it from scratch. The resulting new version was released in October 2001 as version 2.0 beta. This version introduced SSH-2, public key authentication, alternative Explorer interface and several other features. It took approximately a year to stabilize this version and release a production version. It was version 2.2, released in January 2003.

Version 3.0 also introduced support for the alternative to SCP, the SFTP protocol. Over time it evolved from the alternative to the primary protocol. Despite this, an established name “WinSCP” was preserved.

After the author left the University the project was moved to SourceForge. That move was completed in July 2003 ( While WinSCP was an open-source project since its beginning, with the  migration to SourceForge it adopted the GPL license.

Since September 2003, WinSCP is also available as a plugin to the FAR file manager. Version 3.4 released in September 2003 was the first localized version since 1.0. There were Czech, Japanese, Russian and Spanish translations. Many other translations were introduced in later versions.  March 2005 the WinSCP site moved the second time. The new address is and the site is partly hosted on TeamForge. File downloads, CVS and other features are still hosted on SourceForge.

In May 2005 wiki with the documentation became available.

In April 2007 version 4.0 was released, introducing support for  FTP protocol to finally cover all file transfer needs of WinSCP users. In December 2007 WinSCP became available as a plugin to the Altap Salamander file manager. 

The current version as of Feb 2013 is 5.1.4. Version 5.2 which is in beta improves user interface:

Changes in version 5.5

See Recent Version History WinSCP  for improvements in version 5.6 which, as of December 2014,  is still in beta.

Scripting interface

WinSCP offers scripting interface that you can use to automate many operations that it supports, including file transfers, synchronization and other operations. You can use either Windows command interpreter which is adequate for simple tasks or Windows Scripting Host.  For example here is a script that uploads a single file:

option batch abort
option confirm off
open [email protected]
put examplefile.txt /home/user/

You can assemble as many commands as you wish  into a script file. You can also use the /script command line option to pass the script to the WinSCP executable. For example you can embed the complete command line into a Windows batch file (.bat), like as follows:

@echo off /script=myscript.txt

If you have many such files and execute them often you can make a shortcuts to desktop ( either to batch file (.bat) or you can enter full command line in the shortcut icon properties.

If the wrapping batch file takes filename as command line parameter you can use it by dropping files on the icon. Windows automatically run the batch file and passes path to dropped file as a command-line parameter.

In a similar way you can put the shortcut to the batch file into Explorer’s ‘Send To’ context menu (c:\documents and settings\username\sendto). 

You can use WScript.Shell to execute WinSCP console interface tool and feed the script commands (using input stream), without creating temporary script file:

var shell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell");
// run (make it log to XML)
var exec = shell.Exec(" /log=log.xml");
// feed the commands
    "option batch abort\n" +
    "open mysession\n" +
    "ls\n" +
// wait until it finishes and collect its output
var output = exec.StdOut.ReadAll();
// optionally print the output



Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy


War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes


Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law


Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

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