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A terminal emulation program for TCP/IP networks such as the Internet. The Telnet program runs on your computer and connects your PC to a server on the network. You can then enter commands through the Telnet program and they will be executed as if you were entering them directly on the server console. This enables you to control the server and communicate with other servers on the network. To start a Telnet session, you must log in to a server by entering a valid username and password. Telnet is a common way to remotely control Web servers.
Telnet is a network protocol used on the Internet or local area networks to provide a bidirectional interactive text-oriented communication facility using a virtual terminal connection. User data is interspersed in-band with Telnet control information in an 8-bit byte oriented data connection over the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).
Telnet was developed in 1969 beginning with RFC 15, extended in RFC 854, and standardized as Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Internet Standard STD 8, one of the first Internet standards.
Historically, Telnet provided access to a command-line interface (usually, of an operating system) on a remote host. Most network equipment and operating systems with a TCP/IP stack support a Telnet service for remote configuration (including systems based on Windows NT). Because of security issues with Telnet, its use for this purpose has waned in favor of SSH.
The term telnet may also refer to the software that implements the client part of the protocol. Telnet client applications are available for virtually all computer platforms. Telnet is also used as a verb. To telnet means to establish a connection with the Telnet protocol, either with command line client or with a programmatic interface. For example, a common directive might be: "To change your password, telnet to the server, log in and run the passwd command." Most often, a user will be telnetting to a Unix-like server system or a network device (such as a router) and obtain a login prompt to a command line text interface or a character-based full-screen manager.