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Thread: ProFtpd vs. VsFtpd

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  1. #1
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    ProFtpd vs. VsFtpd

    I am about to put an FTP solution in place and I've been doing some research. I know there are a lot of solutions out there, but here is my criteria:

    1. SECURE - This is critical. I plan to do an FTP over SSL (FTPS) implementation. This server will reside in a DMZ.
    2. Well-documented - I'm fairly new at this. I've been using Linux on the desktop for a few years now and I have a little experience managing an Ubuntu server, but I need somewhere to turn if I get stuck.
    3. Good community support - goes hand-in-hand with the previous point about documentation.
    4. Not too hard for end-users who will be connecting to the server - I need to be able to walk semi-savvy users through the process of connecting to my FTP server using common clients such as Core FTP, Filezilla, CuteFTP, etc.

    I've narrowed it down to ProFtpd and VsFtpd. Can anyone make any recommendations as to one over the other? Are there any key features that differentiate them? One thing that I heard about VsFtpd that I like is that there is a Webmin plugin available for managing the server. I have Webmin set up on another Ubuntu server and I use it for general admin, Apache, and MySQL. It would be nice to centralize on that platform if possible. I'd really appreciate any advice.
    Last edited by chrisinspace; July 16th, 2009 at 03:03 PM. Reason: sp
    “You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.” --Homer Simpson

  2. #2
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    Re: ProFtpd vs. VsFtpd

    I'd really like to get moving on this. Does anyone have any feedback? I'm hoping the community can help point me in the right direction.
    “You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.” --Homer Simpson

  3. #3
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    Re: ProFtpd vs. VsFtpd

    You've already done all research. What do you expect? That we toss a coin for you?

    I personally would not bother with FTP at all and stick to OpenSSH instead. The entire exercise with setting up a FTP server and enabling SSL certificates so you'd get "FTPS" seems highly redundant to me, when instead you could simply stick to SSH and use SFTP which already provides this functionality right out of the box.

  4. #4
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    Re: ProFtpd vs. VsFtpd

    I've got to agree with scorp123 on this one. SFTP meets all the things you have listed, plus it has numerous clients available for virtually every platform. FTP with security is a hacked abomination of an already pretty old and broken protocol. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FTPS for more details, especially the section about "Firewall incompatibilities". If your goal is to provide a secure way for users to connect, using SFTP is a great way to go, and it will allow you to use PAM for authentication, so you can use MySQL, LDAP, or whatever else you want for auth.

    If that's not to your liking, you can try using WebDAV with Apache2. If you're trying to setup FTP for web developers, then this is a great alternative, as it allows them to directly edit the files they can then view through their hosted sites. Here's a link to help with that: http://www.howtoforge.com/how-to-set...on-ubuntu-8.10.

    I guess to be fair though, if the only thing you want to compare are ProFtpd and VsFtpd, then its really a matter of personal preference. They both use standards, both have decent records as far as security is concerned, both have been around for a while, and they both have a ton of documentation and features. Try them both and let us know which one you choose and why.

  5. #5
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    Re: ProFtpd vs. VsFtpd

    There's a webmin module for proftpd that comes built-in to webmin. I believe the vsftpd module is third-party.

    I've always used proftpd or pure-ftpd, and been happy with both.

  6. #6
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    Re: ProFtpd vs. VsFtpd

    Quote Originally Posted by scorp123 View Post
    You've already done all research. What do you expect? That we toss a coin for you?
    Actually, I was hoping maybe you'd just volunteer to come install it for me.

    @scorp123 and giggins,

    My goal is to enable users to move one large file (~100MB) a day. They'll be expecting to use an FTP client. Will SFTP work for that? I found these instructions:

    http://blog.markvdb.be/2009/01/sftp-...in-9-easy.html

    Does that look right? After it is set up do you just control user access by creating local users on the Ubuntu server?

    Once I get the files on the Ubuntu server they have to be read by an application on a Windows machine. I'm guessing I'll have to set up Samba for that. Will that open up more security vulnerabilities?

    Sorry for the string of questions, but I'm new to Linux server administration. I don't want to fall back to MS Server just because that's what I know. I'm trying to use this as an opportunity to pick up some new skills.
    Last edited by chrisinspace; July 16th, 2009 at 09:14 PM. Reason: more info
    “You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.” --Homer Simpson

  7. #7
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    Re: ProFtpd vs. VsFtpd

    Quote Originally Posted by lykwydchykyn View Post
    There's a webmin module for proftpd that comes built-in to webmin. I believe the vsftpd module is third-party.
    Didn't know that. Thanks.
    “You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.” --Homer Simpson

  8. #8
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    Re: ProFtpd vs. VsFtpd

    Quote Originally Posted by giggins View Post
    I guess to be fair though, if the only thing you want to compare are ProFtpd and VsFtpd, then its really a matter of personal preference. They both use standards, both have decent records as far as security is concerned, both have been around for a while, and they both have a ton of documentation and features. Try them both and let us know which one you choose and why.
    I had to move quickly on this, so I did decide to go with FTPS. SSH sounds really interesting and extremely well-suited to many remote-access solutions, but I already had a basic understanding of FTPS and I'm only concerned with file transfer, so I went that route. I will definitely give SSH a shot in the future when I have more time to research it.

    The main reason I chose FTPS is that I wanted to do local user management and authentication on the FTP server so the LDAP integration wouldn't be that useful to me since the FTP server lives in my DMZ and can't communicate from the DMZ to my internal network. The internal network can, however, talk to the FTP server in the DMZ. I specifically chose ProFTP because it has some great user/server security controls and its setup and administration in Ubuntu are really well documented. I was able to get the server up and running quickly. The part that took a little more time was securing it with the SSL certificate. I worked on that issue alone for a full day then stopped, took a deep breath, and did some more research. I found this posting which solved my problem. The issue I was having was that the module mod_tls.c wasn't loading so the TLS functionality wasn't enabled. All I had to do was add:
    Code:
    LoadModule mod_tls.c
    to the top of my proftpd.conf file and it worked right away. This step was not mentioned in any of the tutorials I read, even those specifically talking about enabling SSL/TLS in ProFTPd. I was surprised because I didn't build it from source, it came out of the Ubuntu repository, so I would think this is a common issue. Once that was in place, everything worked like a charm.

    Thanks to all of you for your input to this thread. You have really raised my curiosity about SSH, so I'm going to start looking into that and experimenting with it a bit.
    “You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.” --Homer Simpson

  9. #9
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    Re: ProFtpd vs. VsFtpd

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisinspace View Post
    I had to move quickly on this, so I did decide to go with FTPS.
    That's like saying: "I am in a hurry, so I'll pick the 60 years old VW Beetle over the brand-new Ferrari Formula-1 car ...."

    No insult intended. But let's face it: How many hours did you spend to get FTPS working??? Getting SSH (and therefore SFTP too!) up and running is just a matter of a few minutes.

  10. #10
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    Re: ProFtpd vs. VsFtpd

    Ain't nothing wrong with using FTPS (once you get it working nicely with your firewall). Try both SFTP and ftps (vsftpd or pro-ftpd) and which ever one looks like the least amount of hassle to maintain for you then that might be the winner. I wont say there is a substantial enough reason to shy you away from using FTPs. I would say, for alot of users (that require their own login, but not shell access), i would prefer to use vsftpd or proftpd with virtual users as it has been far easier to setup for me.

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