How to Install FTP Server With ProFTP on Ubuntu 20.04

pro ftp 2


What is ProFTPD

ProFTPD is a highly enriched flavor of FTP server. It is available on Linux and Unix-like machines but can also be used in Windows via Cygwin. It is free and open-source software.

Its environment exposes a person to many configuration options and a person who has used FTP before on Unix system will learn this version very easily.

It was released and distributed under the GNU Public License. This FTP version is very versatile because it can support TLS (SSL) for a secure connection.


Firstly, before we get started here are a few things that you should have before you start the installation process.

  • Ubuntu 20.04
  • Root access

System Update

Firstly, update your system so that all the repositories and dependencies are up to date so that you would get the latest stable version of the ProFTPD FTP server.

To update type the following command:


sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade



Now we will install our ProFTPD server. Keep in mind that ProFTPD is available in default repositories of Ubuntu 20.4 and can be installed automatically by the following command:

sudo apt-get install proftpd -y


Enabling ProFTPD

Now start and enable your ProFTPD server so that it starts automatically during boot time.

To do that type the following command:

sudo systemctl start proftpd

Enabling ProFTPD in Ubuntu 20.04


Checking Status

Now you can confirm that your ProFTPD server is active by the following command:

sudo systemctl status proftpd

Your output should look like this:

Checking status of ProFTPD server in Ubuntu 20.04

Configuration File

ProFTPD configuration file is located at /etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf directory. It needs to be configured to make it a fully functional and secure server before use.

It has lots of options you can configure it according to your requirements. However, in this article, I’m going to configure it according to the TLS connection.

Configuration file in ubuntu 20.04

You can use nano command to check what’s inside the file. Type the following to see what’s inside the file:

sudo nano /etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf

You can remove the comments # and configure your file according to your needs. Here’s how the file looks like:

Using nano command to check ProFTPD file in ubuntu 20.04

Adding FTP Users

FTP comes with two types of users which are:

  1. Anonymous FTP: This allows anyone to access the server without any credentials. This should not be active on public networks and should only be active on a home server or a company LAN.
  2. FTP User: Users that have credentials are known as FTP users. They can access the FTP with these credentials and no one else can access this server without those credentials

Adding /bin/false

Before you create a user firstly add the /bin/false to your /etc/shells file. By doing it, we enable the option to create users that cannot log into shell.

To add type the following command in terminal:

sudo echo "/bin/false" >> /etc/shells

Steps before creating a ProFTPD user in ubuntu 20.04

Note: If you get an error that permission is denied then you need to log in as root and then enter the command without the keyword sudo

Creating User

Now we will create a user with a specific home directory and disable its shell access by adding /bin/false. Also, we will grant it to the FTP server.

To do that type the following command:

sudo useradd -m -s /bin/false tom
passwd tom

Creating new FTP user in Ubuntu 20.04

Configuring .conf file

Now your user tom has been created without shell access located in the directory /home/tom/

Now we will give access to tom by updating the ProFTPD configuration file so that we can give tom permissions in the FTP serve.

Type the following command in terminal:

sudo nano /etc/proftpd/conf.d/tom.conf

Now restart your ProFTPD server with the following command:

Your output file should look like this:

Configuring .conf file in Ubuntu 20.04

sudo systemctl restart proftpd

Restarting your ProFTPD server in Ubuntu 20.04


Configuring TLS in ProFTPD

Firstly, to use TLS we need to add SSL certificate which can be downloaded with the following command:

sudo openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/ssl/private/proftpd.key -out /etc/ssl/certs/proftpd.crt -nodes -days 365

Configuring TLS in ProFTPD


sudo chmod 600 /etc/ssl/certs/proftpd.crt
sudo chmod 600 /etc/ssl/private/proftpd.key

Changing permission of TLS for ProFTPD in Ubuntu 20.04

Now configure your configuration file to make use of the SSL certificate that we just generated.

Now change the permission of the certificate by these commands:


sudo nano /etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf

Now uncomment the TLS file:

Include /etc/proftpd/tls.conf


If you can’t find the comment, then you can add it to the file. Now uncomment the TLS file:

Uncommenting TLS files in Ubuntu 20.04

Save and exit the file.

Now go to the TLS configuration file to enable source authentication and uncomment the following files:

sudo nano /etc/proftpd/tls.conf


Uncomment the following files:

  • TLSEngine     
  • TLSLog       
  • TLSProtocol  
  • TLSRSACertificateFile
  • TLSRSACertificateKeyFile
  • TLSOptions       
  • NoSessionReuseRequired
  • TLSVerifyClient           
  • TLSRequired

Uncommenting TLS files in Ubuntu 20.04Uncommenting TLS files in Ubuntu 20.04Uncommenting the TLS file in Ubuntu 20.04

Save and exit the file

Now the only step left is to restart the FTP server. To do that type the following command:

sudo systemctl restart proftpd

Restarting FTP server in Ubuntu 20.04

Note: You can test this server by connecting to it with software like FileZilla. To connect you only need to fill in the server IP, username, password, and port.


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