National Capital FreeNet / Libertel de la capitale nationale About NCF

About the National Capital Freenet

The National Capital FreeNet is a large group of people bringing the benefits of the internet to themselves and to the national capital region. Over 100,000 people in the Ottawa region have participated since NCF began in 1992.

We'd be happy to have you join us!

Seven Things to Know about NCF

NCF has standard internet services (internet access, email, newsgroups, web page hosting, etc) and some things not often found elsewhere (eg. unique Spam filtering and text-based FreePort).

1) Getting Connected to NCF's Web Site

NCF's main web page is the StartPage, at You'll be asked to enter your NCF account ID and password.

Of course you can reach NCF from anywhere on the internet. Some ways to get connected to the internet and NCF's web pages and services:

  • DSL or cable high speed access: Use a computer at home and connect by high-speed DSL telephone internet or high-speed cable internet
  • Use a free public computer, eg., at most libraries in North America
  • Use a computer at work
  • Use a computer at an 'internet cafe' or coffee shop
  • Use a hand-held device (eg., smart phone) over a wireless connection
  • Dial-up modem: Use a computer at home and connect by telephone to an NCF modem

Generally it doesn't matter how you get connected -- all you need is a computer with a web browser to access NCF and most internet services.

NCF's computers are here in Canada, at Carleton University.

2) Internet Access Using NCF's High-Speed DSL

DSL technology ('Digital Subscriber Line') gives you high-speed internet access over your existing telephone line, always available, without blocking your telephone. It's fast, up to 50 times faster than a dialup connection.

Read more about NCF's DSL service here.

3) Internet Access Using NCF's Dial-up Modems

NCF has a pool of dial-up modems (yep, one can still get to the internet by dial-up; it's slow but sometimes that's enough):

Phone Pool Size Location Type Speed
520-1135 46 Carleton University
(central Ottawa)
PPP/text 56 Kbps

4) Sending and Receiving Email

NCF provides every member with a personal email address. NCF email addresses are simply a member's account ID (eg., 'ab123') followed by '', for example, ''.

On this page, 'ab123' is used as an example of an NCF account ID. You should use your real NCF account ID, given to you when you registered, in those places instead.

Optionally, you can arrange for an email alias, for example, ''. Information about getting an email alias is available from the StartPage ("Reserve an email alias").

Important: If you already have an email address and don't plan to use your NCF email address, be sure to tell us, using "Change Preferences" at the bottom-right of the StartPage (NCF needs to be able to reach you about your account).

Incoming email for you is stored on NCF's computer here in Canada, at Carleton University, until you ask for it. There are two ways to receive email:

Using NCF WebMail
from a web browser
  Using a mail reader
from your own computer
All you need to use WebMail is a web browser connected to the internet (eg., home, office, library, internet cafe -- anywhere in the world via internet). You read and send mail from the browser, and your mail is stored on an NCF computer.

A disadvantage of using WebMail is that you have to stay connected to the internet while you are reading and composing your email.

  Mail reader software is more powerful and has more features than webMail. Your email is transferred to your computer and then read there.

A disadvantage is that your mail is only accessible while you are at your computer.

We suggest using a mail reader program to read and send email when you are at home, and using NCF WebMail when you are away from home.

If you choose to use a mail reader on your computer, consult NCF's Help pages for information to configure your mail reader.

5) Spam Control

'Spam' is unsolicited or unwanted email; it's the electronic equivalent of junk mail you get in your mailbox at home. It's mostly advertising from outside Canada, and its content is sometimes offensive. It's mostly an annoyance for people who have published (perhaps inadvertently) their email address; many NCF members do not receive any spam.

NCF takes two approaches to control spam: 1) Known sources of spam are blocked, and 2) Tools are provided that put members in control of their mailboxes. Using 'NCF SpamFilter' (developed by NCF), members can completely control what email arrives in their mailbox. Also, NCF provides SpamAssassin, a popular open-source content-analysis spam control program. For people who have a spam problem, the combination of SpamFilter+SpamAssassin works very well. If you start getting spam, check out 'SpamFilter' under 'Tools' on the Startpage.

NCF's spam control systems work well, but it still makes sense to be careful with your email address. You can reduce spam by:

  • Not giving out your email address on the internet except when it is justified and only to reputable organizations (who you know will not sell your address to spammers).
  • Being wary of 'free' services on the internet; they often support themselves by advertising and by selling your personal information, including your email address, if you provide it.
  • Not posting your email address where it will be visible to anyone on the internet, e.g. posting in a public Usenet newsgroup has been known to invite spam, as does putting your email address in a web page.
  • Not opening or replying to spam. Any sign that you are reading their spam will encourage them to send more.
  • Telling government representatives what you think about spam (should it be illegal? should the sender's bear the cost?).

Don't take it personally; any spam you receive was probably computer-generated without human involvement and also sent to thousands of other people (even if the spam email you got was addressed only to you and included your name).

NCF offers 'disposable email addresses' that you can provide when registering with services that require an email address. For more information, consult NCF's Help pages.

6) Publish a Web Page

The internet is a place to share things, and a great way to share is to publish your own web page. Hundreds of NCF members already have web pages. We encourage people to produce web pages; sharing information and perspectives is part of what NCF is about.

Publishing a web pages involves two steps:

  1. Compose web page(s) on your computer (or using software tools available using NCF's Internet Desktop)
  2. Then copy your web page(s) to your web space at NCF

That's it! Once transferred to NCF, your web pages become visible on the internet.

The URL of your page is determined by your NCF account ID; for example, the URL of the web page area for the person with NCF account ID 'ab123' is:

(For organizations at NCF, it's

To transfer your pages to NCF, the easiest method requiring no set-up is to use NCF's Web File Manager, available from the StartPage as a link in the 'Tools' section. Alternatively, you can use an FTP program. If you use FTP, the 'username' to use with FTP is your NCF account ID with a '-1' ("dash one") appended. For example, FTP information for the person with NCF account ID 'ab123' is summarized below.

FTP username FTP host

(For organizations at NCF, it's different; please consult the Help pages)

There is information about creating and publishing web pages in NCF's Help pages.

7) How to get help at NCF

If you have questions regarding NCF services or need help, we suggest the following steps:

  1. Go to NCF Help pages by clicking on 'Help' at the top right hand corner on most NCF pages, for example on this page.
  2. Search tools are a great way to find things on the internet. NCF pages can be searched using the Google search tool on the StartPage. There is information about how to use Search Tools in NCF's Help area.
  3. Use NCF's "Office Message" system, available from the left column of the StartPage. This is the best way to contact NCF's office.
  4. Call us at 613-721-1773 and a NCF volunteer will help you. You can also email us at

NCF is yours (NCF is governed by its members)

NCF is governed and supported by its members. We hope you'll enjoy being an NCF member, and help make our region a better place to live.

Welcome to NCF! If I can be of any assistance or if there is something we can do to help, please give me a call at the NCF office, at 613-721-1773 ext 112. --NCF's Executive Director