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GUI FTP Server Recommendation

This is my first attempt at using any Linux based system. This is also my first attempt at setting up an FTP server. I'm running Ubuntu 12.04 on a 10 year old desktop that I hope to use as a server for transferring files between myself and my friends who use both Windows and Mac sytems.

I've vsftpd installed and I think I've configured my /etc/vsftpd.config file to require users to log on (meaning no anonymous users) and have it set up to require SSL (whatever that means, everyone just says to do it to prevent people from sniffing your password since FTP isn't encrypted by itself). However, It would be great if someone could give me a set of layman's instructions on how to configure the server to require a user name and password to access it, since I have no idea if the configuration I have setup right now will work.

Now comes the part that I really don't understand. How do I now turn vsftpd on and make the server start working? How do I know that it IS on? (The lack of a GUI makes all this very difficult for me.) How do I connect to the server from another computer? Is it possible to use a web browser or do I have to use a program like Filezilla to access the server?

marked as duplicate by jrg May 22 '12 at 13:57

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 2
    This question is hardly an "exact duplicate". I'm asking for specifics on the workings of vsftpd. I wasn't looking for a GUI alternative. The linked question doesn't answer my question in any way. – John May 23 '12 at 2:54
  • You are having difficulties configuring user accounts and note that "The lack of a GUI makes all this very difficult for me." The other user is having the same difficulties with users and explicitly says they would prefer a GUI alternative. You'll notice that answer both offers a GUI alternative and a link to the documentation that gives "the specifics on the works of vsftpd. If you actually don't want to use a GUI you should have been clearer in your question. Anyway the documentation is here help.ubuntu.com/11.04/serverguide/ftp-server.html, as link to in the other question. – adempewolff May 23 '12 at 5:53
  • I will give you though, that your last couple questions are slightly different, in that they are related to how an ftp client works. Assuming your computer isn't behind a router, or that router is correctly forwarding port 21 to your server. Use either an ftp client or a web browser that supports ftp to connect to 'your.ip.address' and then enter the credentials for any user account on your server. The users will all have access to their home folders only by default, but you could create shared folders as well. – adempewolff May 23 '12 at 6:02
up vote 1 down vote accepted

You need a few things to get an ftp server to work...

  1. Configuration - I suggest you read the man pages for the software you are going to use:

    man vsftpd
    man vsftpd.conf
  2. Firewall - outside computers must be allowed to talk to your server: you must allow incoming connections on port 21. Have a look at "firestarter" for a nice program to manage that.
  3. If you want to access the computer from the outside world you may need to tell your router to pass incoming connection on port 21 on to your server as well. Look into the configuration of the router, usually a local address like (on my router).
  4. vsftp is started for you when you install it, but you can use the program "bum" to manage services, or stop/start it from the command line like so:

    sudo service vsftpd stop
    sudo service vsftpd start
  5. After this you should be able to connect to your server from an ftp client or use a web browser: ftp://yourserver/

Hope that helps :)

  • ssh is often a better alternative :) however an old machine could struggle to keep up with the encryption when you transfer large files. – SEngstrom May 22 '12 at 3:05
  • Okay, I got the first four points. Until I get everything worked out, I'm simply using the default configuration to make sure I'm not messing anything up. But the fifth is still giving me trouble. When I type in the ftp://192.XXX.XXX.XXX into my browser on a computer on the same router, I get a white page named "Index of /" (PROGRESS!). However, when I had someone on a different router try it, they got an "unable to connect" error." Is the "yourserver" part supposed to be filled in with the IP address or the public IP address, or what? (An example showing full syntax would be great.) – John May 22 '12 at 5:35
  • If someone is not inside your local network it should be the public ip address. Also "If you want to access the computer from the outside world you may need to tell your router to pass incoming connections on port 21 on to your server as well. Look into the configuration of the router, usually a local address like (on my router)." is a very important step. – adempewolff May 23 '12 at 6:05
  • Okay, I've got everything working now. I'm able to reach the server both from within the local network and through the public IP. Turned out the problem was that I had failed to uncomment one of the necessary config options. Thanks for the help! – John May 23 '12 at 7:00

You can use SFTP over SSH.

Just connect to your home IP address on port 22 with your Ubuntu username and password. You only need to install SSH:

sudo apt-get install openssh-server

Alternatively, you can look into webmin.

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