Need to set up an FTP server on your network to simplify file transfer between users or hosts? Look no further than the robust, secure and very free proFTPD server, which has everything you need to get up and running in a jiffy. This article covers installing and configuring proFTPD for both regular and anonymous FTP, and also explains how to customize the operation of the server for different requirements.
There are numerous FTP servers available on the Web, and they come in many different flavours. Some are for Windows and some are for *NIX, some are feature-packed and others are stripped down to just the basics, some are open-source and others have to be paid for...the permutations go on and on. For our little experiment here today, though, I'm going to be using the proFTPD server, a free, open-source implementation of the FTP protocol that also happens to be one of the most widely used, stable, easy-to-use and secure FTP servers available today.
Developed by a team of open-source programmers, proFTPD offers numerous advantages over its brethren. It's extremely simple to compile, install and configure, supports a wide range of platforms, and has excellent documentation and help files. In addition to supporting the FTP protocol defined in RFC 959, it also comes with numerous additional features, including Apache-style configuration files, the ability to hide files and directories, resumption of broken downloads and file and directory aliases. Don't think all this comes at the cost of stability, though - proFTPD is so robust that extremely popular sites like SourceForge, Slackware, LinkSys and kernel.org use it to power their FTP services.
Anonymous FTP is a service offered by many sites that host software for download. In an anonymous FTP system, users can log in to the system using the special "anonymous" account and gain access to the files stored there for download. proFTPD supports anonymous FTP out of the box, and also comes with built-in support for virtual hosting and restricted guest accounts.
Keeping in mind that activating an FTP server opens a back door into the system, proFTPD comes with numerous features designed to ensure that the security of your system is not breached, including logging of all transfers and setting access levels on a per-directory basis. Users can be "jailed" in specific directories to minimize the impact of any damage they may cause, and all commands can be logged to maintain an audit trail of user activity.
Intrigued? Wanna see it in action? Flip the page, and let's get installing!