VSFTP Made Easy

By | November 8, 2013

This is my easy setup guide for VSFTP in Linux. I use RHEL and CentOS so instructions may vary depending on the Distro. This guide will take you through putting the appropriate options in your VSFTPD.conf file as well as adding a user and opening up iptables. First things first, create the user(s) you need using the following commands:

useradd username – this will create the user you have specified as username.

passwd username – this will set the password for the user you just created.

usermod -d /path/to/ftp/directory/ username – to change their home directory.  This is what their FTP home directory will be.

At this point you have to grant them permissions on files they need access to.  Put them into appropriate groups or reference this KB to set permissions for their user, I recommend using setfacl.

Next, you will need to open their firewall.  You may need to do this on the ASA as well, but in iptables (/etc/sysconfig/iptables) insert the following rules with your favorite text editor:

-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp --dport 20:21 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp --dport 35000:35500 -j ACCEPT

Then restart iptables:

service iptables restart

Now you need to decide whether or not the user is chroot’d (tied to the home directory ONLY).  If so, add them to this file, as a user_list:


If you have users that should NOT be allowed to FTP in, add them to this list:


Once everything is setup, rename the existing file in /etc/vsftpd/vsftpd.conf to /etc/vsftpd/vsftpd.conf.old and create a newvsftpd.conf file and paste the following:

# The default compiled in settings are fairly paranoid. This sample file
# loosens things up a bit, to make the ftp daemon more usable.
# Please see vsftpd.conf.5 for all compiled in defaults.
# READ THIS: This example file is NOT an exhaustive list of vsftpd options.
# Please read the vsftpd.conf.5 manual page to get a full idea of vsftpd's
# capabilities.
# Allow anonymous FTP? (Beware - allowed by default if you comment this out).
# Uncomment this to allow local users to log in.
# Uncomment this to enable any form of FTP write command.
# Default umask for local users is 077. You may wish to change this to 022,
# if your users expect that (022 is used by most other ftpd's)
# Uncomment this to allow the anonymous FTP user to upload files. This only
# has an effect if the above global write enable is activated. Also, you will
# obviously need to create a directory writable by the FTP user.
# Uncomment this if you want the anonymous FTP user to be able to create
# new directories.
# Activate directory messages - messages given to remote users when they
# go into a certain directory.
# Activate logging of uploads/downloads.
# Make sure PORT transfer connections originate from port 20 (ftp-data).
# If you want, you can arrange for uploaded anonymous files to be owned by
# a different user. Note! Using "root" for uploaded files is not
# recommended!
# You may override where the log file goes if you like. The default is shown
# below.
# If you want, you can have your log file in standard ftpd xferlog format.
# Note that the default log file location is /var/log/xferlog in this case.
# You may change the default value for timing out an idle session.
# You may change the default value for timing out a data connection.
# It is recommended that you define on your system a unique user which the
# ftp server can use as a totally isolated and unprivileged user.
# Enable this and the server will recognise asynchronous ABOR requests. Not
# recommended for security (the code is non-trivial). Not enabling it,
# however, may confuse older FTP clients.
# By default the server will pretend to allow ASCII mode but in fact ignore
# the request. Turn on the below options to have the server actually do ASCII
# mangling on files when in ASCII mode.
# Beware that on some FTP servers, ASCII support allows a denial of service
# attack (DoS) via the command "SIZE /big/file" in ASCII mode. vsftpd
# predicted this attack and has always been safe, reporting the size of the
# raw file.
# ASCII mangling is a horrible feature of the protocol.
# You may fully customise the login banner string:
#ftpd_banner=Welcome to blah FTP service.
# You may specify a file of disallowed anonymous e-mail addresses. Apparently
# useful for combatting certain DoS attacks.
# (default follows)
# You may specify an explicit list of local users to chroot() to their home
# directory. If chroot_local_user is YES, then this list becomes a list of
# users to NOT chroot().
# (default follows)
# You may activate the "-R" option to the builtin ls. This is disabled by
# default to avoid remote users being able to cause excessive I/O on large
# sites. However, some broken FTP clients such as "ncftp" and "mirror" assume
# the presence of the "-R" option, so there is a strong case for enabling it.
# When "listen" directive is enabled, vsftpd runs in standalone mode and
# listens on IPv4 sockets. This directive cannot be used in conjunction
# with the listen_ipv6 directive.
# This directive enables listening on IPv6 sockets. To listen on IPv4 and IPv6
# sockets, you must run two copies of vsftpd with two configuration files.
# Make sure, that one of the listen options is commented !!


After you paste the above in the vsftpd.conf file, type:

service vsftpd restart

And you should be good to go.  Test using FileZilla with the user you created and it should work.  To make sure the vsftpd service starts up automatically on a reboot, type the following command:

chkconfig vsftpd on

Note:  If you want to use FTPS which is highly recommended, first create a self signed certificate and key:

sudo mkdir /etc/ssl/private
openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 1825 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/ssl/private/vsftpd.pem -out /etc/ssl/private/vsftpd.pem

Answer the questions and ensure the common name matches the host name you will use.  Once that has been generated, reference and force SSL in your vsftpd configuration (/etc/ file using the following directives: