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How to setup an FTP server on Linux for your LAN

All operating systems have an FTP client program in order to access ftp sites, but not all have ftp server capabilities activated by default. In this article I am going to show you how to setup an FTP server in Linux. The server is going to be accessible only in your Local Area Network, as I will not go into details about setting up a router. In addition, it is going to feature anonymous and user accounts. Since the server is going to reside in a LAN only, I am not going to implement any security features. However, this should not be the case for any professional application! Last but not least, I implemented the following in Ubuntu 11.04 32-bit and Linux Mint 11 64-bit. In both cases it was a success.


Installing the FTP server


There are many options as far as ftp server software is concerned. In this guide, I used vsftpd. To install it, open a terminal window and type:

sudo apt-get install vsftpd


vsftpd Installation

Password is going to be asked and a verification for the files to be downloaded. As soon as vsftpd is installed, the deamon process will start (as you can see in the picture above).

Setting Up the FTP server


All the settings of the FTP server are stored in a configuration file: /etc/vsftpd.conf . So to make changes one needs to open the file with administrator priviledges, basically type in a terminal window:

sudo gedit /etc/vsftpd.conf

  1. In this tutorial we need to enable anonymous ftp access. Find the line that says: “anonymous_enable=NO” and change it to “anonymous_enable=YES”.
  2. We need to set a banner that the FTP server will display to anyone who logs in. Find the line that says: “ftpd_banner” and write the message you want it to show, like: “ftpd_banner=Welcome to EOL MAGAZINE FTP service!”
  3. If your linux box has user accounts set up, each user can log in with their username/password and they will be transferred to their home directory. The anonymous users can log in with username->anonymous and password-><their_email_address>. The anonymous users are transferred to the folder “/srv/ftp/”. If you want to change that, you have to add the following line somewhere in the vsftp.conf: anon_root=<path_to_your_liking>. For reasons of making things clear let’s assume I entered the line “anon_root=/srv/ftp/”, thus I will get transferred to the default directory. The directory where a user is transferred is called root directory.
  4. To share files, one can copy them to the root directory, but that creates duplicates with the original files and occupies extra hard disk space. Alternatively, one can mount their shares into folders inside the root directory!
  5. When you are done with the configuration, open a terminal and type “sudo restart vsftpd”, to apply the new configuration.

Mounting Shares


If you want to mount the shares automatically whenever the system starts, you have to edit the /etc/fstab file.

  1. Open a terminal and go to the root directory of your ftp server, in this case /srv/ftp/ with the command “cd /srv/ftp”. Create two folders named Primary and Secondary: “sudo mkdir Primary” and “sudo mkdir Secondary”.
  2. Now edit /etc/fstab: “sudo gedit /etc/fstab”. If you want to add your hard drives sdc1 and sdd1 add at the end of the file the following lines: “/media/sdc1 /srv/ftp/Secondary none bind 0 0″ and “/media/sdd1 /srv/ftp/Primary none bind 0 0″. Save and restart the computer to mount the drives in the folders.


/etc/fstab Configuration

Alternatively you can mount it without restarting, but the setting will be lost when you restart the computer. To do so, open a terminal and type: “sudo mount –bind /media/sdc1 /srv/ftp/Secondary” and “sudo mount –bind /media/sdd1 /srv/ftp/Primary”.

Adding User accounts for the FTP server


To add a new user account you just need to create a new user in your linux box. The command is: “sudo adduser <user_name>”. The system will create the new home directory for the user and also ask for a password and some details. The details are not obligatory to enter while the password is.


adduser example

The FTP server is ready! To initiate a connection you have to know the ip address of the server (ifconfig command), for example 192.168.1.2 . Open a terminal and type: “ftp 192.168.1.2″. To log in as a user enter the user credentials, else enter anonymous as username and as password. Alternatively, open your web browser and type in the address bar: ” ftp://192.168.1.2″ and a prompt for username/password will emerge.

As for performance, I achieved 500 kbps over wifi connection (both computers), away from the access point. Not bad! Enjoy your new FTP server!

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