Very Secure FTP Daemon

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vsftpd (Very Secure FTP Daemon) is a lightweight, stable and secure FTP server for UNIX-like systems.


Simply install vsftpd from the Official Repositories.

To start the server:

# systemctl start vsftpd.service

If you want it to be started automatically at boot:

# systemctl enable vsftpd.service

See the xinetd section below for procedures to use vsftpd with xinetd.


Most of the settings in vsftpd are done by editing the file /etc/vsftpd.conf. The file itself is well-documented, so this section only highlights some important changes you may want to modify. For all available options and documentation, one can man vsftpd.conf (5) (or visit vsftpd.conf online manpage). Files are served by default from /srv/ftp.

Enabling uploading

The WRITE_ENABLE flag must be set to YES in /etc/vsftpd.conf in order to allow changes to the filesystem, such as uploading:


Local user login

One must set the line to /etc/vsftpd.conf to allow users in /etc/passwd to login:


Anonymous login

The line in /etc/vsftpd.conf controls whether anonymous users can login:

# Allow anonymous login
# No password is required for an anonymous login          
# Maximum transfer rate for an anonymous client in Bytes/second          
# Directory to be used for an anonymous login           

Chroot jail

One can set up a chroot environment which prevents the user from leaving its home directory. To enable this, add the following lines to /etc/vsftpd.conf:


The chroot_list_file variable specifies the file which contains users that are jailed.

For a more restricted environment, one can specify the line:


This will make local users jailed by default. In this case, the file specified by chroot_list_file lists users that are not in a chroot jail.

Limiting user login

It's possible to prevent users from logging into the FTP server by adding two lines to /etc/vsftpd.conf:


userlist_file now specifies the file which lists users that are not able to login.

If you only want to allow certain users to login, add the line:


The file specified by userlist_file will now contain users that are able to login.

Limiting connections

One can limit the data transfer rate, number of clients and connections per IP for local users by adding the information in /etc/vsftpd.conf:

local_max_rate=1000000 # Maximum data transfer rate in bytes per second
max_clients=50         # Maximum number of clients that may be connected
max_per_ip=2           # Maximum connections per IP

Using xinetd

Tango-view-refresh-red.pngThis article or section is out of date.Tango-view-refresh-red.png

Reason: Contains reference to rc.conf, which does not exist anymore. (Discuss in Talk:Very Secure FTP Daemon#)

If you want to use vsftpd with xinetd, add the following lines to /etc/xinetd.d/vsftpd:

service ftp
        socket_type             = stream
        wait                    = no
        user                    = root
        server                  = /usr/bin/vsftpd
        log_on_success  += HOST DURATION
        log_on_failure  += HOST
        disable                 = no

The option below should be set in /etc/vsftpd.conf:


Finally, add xinetd to your daemons line in /etc/rc.conf. You do not need to add vsftpd, as it will be called by xinetd whenever necessary.

If you get errors like this while connecting to the server:

500 OOPS: cap_set_proc

You need to add capability in MODULES= line in /etc/rc.conf.

While upgrading to version 2.1.0 you might get an error like this when connecting to the server from a client:

500 OOPS: could not bind listening IPv4 socket

In earlier versions it has been enough to leave the following lines commented:

# Use this to use vsftpd in standalone mode, otherwise it runs through (x)inetd
# listen=YES

In this newer version, and maybe future releases, it is necessary however to explicitly configure it to not run in a standalone mode, like this:

# Use this to use vsftpd in standalone mode, otherwise it runs through (x)inetd

Using SSL to Secure FTP

Generate an SSL Cert, e.g. like that:

# cd /etc/ssl/certs
# openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 7300 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/ssl/certs/vsftpd.pem -out /etc/ssl/certs/vsftpd.pem
# chmod 600 /etc/ssl/certs/vsftpd.pem

You will be asked a lot of Questions about your Company etc., as your Certificate is not a trusted one it doesn't really matter what you fill in. You will use this for encryption! If you plan to use this in a matter of trust get one from a CA like thawte, verisign etc.

edit your configuration /etc/vsftpd.conf

#this is important

#choose what you like, if you accept anon-connections
# you may want to enable this
# allow_anon_ssl=NO

#choose what you like,
# it's a matter of performance i guess
# force_local_data_ssl=NO

#choose what you like

#you should at least enable this if you enable ssl...
#choose what you like
#choose what you like
#give the correct path to your currently generated *.pem file
#the *.pem file contains both the key and cert

Dynamic DNS

Make sure you put the following two lines in /etc/vsftpd.conf:


It is not necessary to use a script that updates pasv_address periodically and restarts the server, as it can be found elsewhere!

Note: You won't be able to connect in passive mode via LAN anymore. Try the active mode on your LAN PC's FTP client.

Port configurations

Especially for private FTP servers that are exposed to the web it's recommended to change the listening port to something other that the standard port 21. This can be done using the following lines in /etc/vsftpd.conf:


Furthermore a custom passive port range can be given by:


Configuring iptables

Often the server running the FTP daemon is protected by an iptables firewall. To allow access to the FTP server the corresponding port needs to be opened using something like

# iptables -A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp --dport 2211 -j ACCEPT

This article won't provide any instruction on how to set up iptables but here is an example: Simple stateful firewall.

There are some kernel modules needed for proper FTP connection handling by iptables that should be referenced here. Among those especially ip_conntrack_ftp. It is needed as FTP uses the given listen_port (21 by default) for commands only; all the data transfer is done over different ports. These ports are chosen by the FTP daemon at random and for each session (also depending on whether active or passive mode is used). To tell iptables that packets on ports should be accepted, ip_conntrack_ftp is required. To load it automatically on boot create a new file in /etc/modules-load.d e.g.:

# echo ip_conntrack_ftp > /etc/modules-load.d/ip_conntrack_ftp.conf

If you changed the listen_port you also need to configure the conntrack module accordingly:

options nf_conntrack_ftp ports=2211
options ip_conntrack_ftp ports=2211

Tips and tricks

PAM with virtual users

Using virtual users has the advantage of not requiring a real login account on the system. Keeping the environment in a container is of course a more secure option.

A virtual users database has to be created by first making a simple text file like this:


Include as many virtual users as you wish according to the structure in the example. Save it as logins.txt; the file name does not have any significance. Next step depends on Berkeley database system, which is included in the core system of Arch. As root create the actual database with the help of the logins.txt file, or what you chose to call it:

# db_load -T -t hash -f logins.txt /etc/vsftpd_login.db
Warning: The above command gives the wrong impression that db_load hashes the passwords. A user with read access to the database file will be able print out the passwords back onto the terminal like so
# strings /etc/vsftpd_login.db 
which demonstrates that db_load does NOT hash the passwords.

It is recommended to restrict permissions for the now created vsftpd_login.db file:

# chmod 600 /etc/vsftpd_login.db
Warning: Be aware that stocking passwords in plain text is not safe. Don't forget to remove your temporary file with rm logins.txt.

PAM should now be set to make use of vsftpd_login.db. To make PAM check for user authentication create a file named ftp in the /etc/pam.d/ directory with the following information:

auth required db=/etc/vsftpd_login crypt=hash 
account required db=/etc/vsftpd_login crypt=hash
Note: We use /etc/vsftpd_login without .db extension in PAM-config!

Now it is time to create a home for the virtual users. In the example /srv/ftp is decided to host data for virtual users, which also reflects the default directory structure of Arch. First create the general user virtual and make /srv/ftp its home:

# useradd -d /srv/ftp virtual

Make virtual the owner:

# chown virtual:virtual /srv/ftp

Configure vsftpd to use the created environment by editing /etc/vsftpd.conf. These are the necessary settings to make vsftpd restrict access to virtual users, by user-name and password, and restrict their access to the specified area /srv/ftp:


If the xinetd method is used start the service. You should now only be allowed to login by user-name and password according to the made database.

Adding private folders for the virtual users

First create directories for users:

# mkdir /srv/ftp/user1
# mkdir /srv/ftp/user2
# chown virtual:virtual /srv/ftp/user?/

Then, add the following lines to /etc/vsftpd.conf:



vsftpd: no connection (Error 500) with recent kernels (3.5 and newer) and .service

add this to your /etc/vsftpd.conf


vsftpd: refusing to run with writable root inside chroot()

As of vsftpd 2.3.5, the chroot directory that users are locked to must not be writable. This is in order to prevent a security vulnerabilty.

The safe way to allow upload is to keep chroot enabled, and configure your FTP directories.

# mkdir -p /srv/ftp/user/upload
# chmod 550 /srv/ftp/user
# chmod 750 /srv/ftp/user/upload

If you must:

You can put this into your /etc/vsftpd.conf to workaround this security enhancement (since vsftpd 3.0.0; from Fixing 500 OOPS: vsftpd: refusing to run with writable root inside chroot ()):


or alternative:

Install vsftpd-ext from AUR and set in the conf file allow_writable_root=YES

FileZilla Client: GnuTLS error -8 when connecting via SSL

vsftpd tries to display plain-text error messages in the SSL session. In order to debug this, temporarily disable encryption and you will see the correct error message.[1]

vsftpd.service fails to run on boot

If you have enabled the vsftpd service and it fails to run on boot, make sure it is set to load after in the service file:

Description=vsftpd daemon

See also