I know I can run ls * on the ftp server and get everything, but there's too much for my terminal (hundreds of pages so far). using ls * > myfile isn't an option because I don't have permission to write. So I need a way to do it from the terminal, something like: ftp ftp://site.com

I've read the man pages but don't want to take a risk here. I don't have personal permission to modify this server but the user I've been given may have write permissions.

I need to export this to any local format so I can review it over time, as there is a lot of output.


Apparently you can pipe a command directly to ftp:

echo "ls *" | ftp hostname > ls.txt

Make sure to quote ls * somehow or to disable globbing otherwise * will expand in the current shell.

  • Thank you so much! instead of "ls *" I used "ls -R" and indeed I have a full index of the server now. – TenLeftFingers Jun 23 '15 at 20:47

A good option might be to pipe the output into less:

ls * | less

Then you should be able to happily scroll through the pages of output without needing any file writing permissions.

  • While that would work, the output is so large that I need a way to export it so I can reference it regularly. I'll update my question so that that's clearer. Thank you! – TenLeftFingers Jun 22 '15 at 21:18
  • I'm guessing that you can't mount an external drive either. Is there a way to use an FTP client like Filezilla and capture the directory listing from that? – Arronical Jun 23 '15 at 8:47
  • interesting Arronical! I used Nautilus to connect to the FTP server and from there, right-click -> Open in Terminal (available in the Ubuntu Store). from there I possibly would be able to use the command in your answer if I redirected it to /home/tenleftfingers, but I'm not sure so don't want to risk it :) I didn't find anything in FileZilla to do this. – TenLeftFingers Jun 24 '15 at 17:56

What about:

 ncftpls -R ftp://site.com

Nice command, designed for exactly this purpose


i've just made a python script for this purpose: https://gist.github.com/eadmaster/55d1508bd17780ee1e93c15609bb69af

#!/usr/bin/env python

# code derived from https://gist.githubusercontent.com/flibbertigibbet/8165881/raw/7f580b6735ad1f03c6e6060cd1c8571048afad6a/recurse_ftp.py

from ftplib import FTP
from time import sleep
import os
import sys

my_dirs = []  # global
curdir = ''   # global

PROGRAM_NAME = os.path.basename(sys.argv[0])

if len(sys.argv) <= 1 or sys.argv[1].startswith("-"):
  print("usage: " + PROGRAM_NAME + " SERVER_ADDR [SERVER_ROOT_DIR]")
# else
SERVER_ADDR = sys.argv[1]

if len(sys.argv) >= 3:
  SERVER_ROOT_PATH = sys.argv[2]

def get_dirs(ln):
  global my_dirs
  cols = ln.split(' ')
  objname = cols[len(cols)-1] # file or directory name
  if ln.startswith('d'):
    print(curdir + "/" + objname)

def check_dir(adir):
  global my_dirs
  global curdir
  my_dirs = []
  gotdirs = [] # local
    curdir = ftp.pwd()
    sys.stderr.write(PROGRAM_NAME + ": going to change to directory " + adir + " from " + curdir + "\n")
    curdir = ftp.pwd()
    ftp.retrlines('LIST', get_dirs)
  print(curdir + "/")
  gotdirs = my_dirs
  #print("found in " + adir + " directories:")
  for subdir in gotdirs:
    my_dirs = []
    check_dir(subdir) # recurse  
  # end for
  ftp.cwd('..') # back up a directory when done here
# end of check_dir

# main
  check_dir(SERVER_ROOT_PATH) # directory to start in

  import logging


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