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http_get(1) FreeBSD General Commands Manual http_get(1)

http_get - get the contents of an http URL

http_get [-t timeout] [-r referrer] [-u user-agent] [-a username:password] [-c cookie] [-a header value ] [-v] url

http_get fetches an http URL and dumps the contents to stdout. It does not do gopher, ftp, file, news, or any other type of URL, only http. It can be configured to do https fetches as well.

The -t flag specifies a timeout in seconds. If that much time passes with no activity, the fetch is aborted. The default is 60 seconds.

The -r flag specifies a referrer header to send. Some tightly-clenched web admins like to jigger their server to only return files if the proper referrer is given.

The -u flag specifies a User-Agent header to send. Some *really* tightly-clenched web admins like to jigger their server to only return files if a well-known User-Agent is given.

The -a flag lets you do Basic Authentication.

The -c flag lets you pass in a cookie.

The -h flag lets you pass in one extra header.

The -v flag is for debugging; it tells http_get to show the HTTP headers as well as the rest of the response.

If the fetch is successful (HTTP status 200), the command's exit status is 0. Otherwise the exit status is the HTTP status code. However, since a Unix command exit status is only one byte, the HTTP codes show up mod 256. Adding to the confusion, csh interprets the status byte as signed, while in other shells it is unsigned. Anyway, here is a table of some common status values:
    HTTP    sh      csh
    200     0       0
    302     46      46
    304     48      48
    400     144     -112
    401     145     -111
    403     147     -109
    404     148     -108
    408     152     -104
    500     244     -12
    501     245     -11
    503     247     -9

Originally based on a simple version by Al Globus <>. Debugged, prettified, and extended by Jef Poskanzer <>.
16 March 1999

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