Saturday, April 5, 2008

Setup of VSFTPD virtual users

If you are hosting several web sites, for security reason, you may want the webmasters to access their own files only. One of the good way is to give them FTP access by setup of VSFTPD virtual users and directories. This article describes how you can do that easily.
(See also: Setup of VSFTPD virtual users - another approach)

1. Installation of VSFTPD

For Red Hat, CentOS and Fedora, you may install VSFTPD by the command
# yum install vsftpd
For Debian and Ubuntu,
# apt-get install vsftpd
2. Virtual users and authentication

We are going to use pam_userdb to authenticate the virtual users. This needs a username / password file in `db' format - a common database format. We need `db_load' program. For CentOS, Fedora, you may install the package `db4-utils':
# yum install db4-utils
For Ubuntu,
# apt-get install db4.2-util
To create a `db' format file, first create a plain text file `virtual-users.txt' with the usernames and passwords on alternating lines:
Then execute the following command to create the actual database:
# db_load -T -t hash -f virtual-users.txt /etc/vsftpd/virtual-users.db
Now, create a PAM file /etc/pam.d/vsftpd-virtual which uses your database:
auth required db=/etc/vsftpd/virtual-users
account required db=/etc/vsftpd/virtual-users
3. Configuration of VSFTPD

Create a configuration file /etc/vsftpd/vsftpd-virtual.conf,
# disables anonymous FTP
# enables non-anonymous FTP
# activates virtual users
# virtual users to use local privs, not anon privs
# enables uploads and new directories
# the PAM file used by authentication of virtual uses
# in conjunction with 'local_root',
# specifies a home directory for each virtual user
# the virtual user is restricted to the virtual FTP area
# hides the FTP server user IDs and just display "ftp" in directory listings
# runs vsftpd in standalone mode
# listens on this port for incoming FTP connections
# the minimum port to allocate for PASV style data connections
# the maximum port to allocate for PASV style data connections
# controls whether PORT style data connections use port 20 (ftp-data)
# the umask for file creation
4. Creation of home directories

Create each user's home directory in /var/www/virtual, and change the owner of the directory to the user `ftp':
# mkdir /var/www/virtual/mary
# chown ftp:ftp /var/www/virtual/mary
5. Startup of VSFTPD and test
Now we can start VSFTPD by the command:
# /usr/sbin/vsftpd /etc/vsftpd/vsftpd-virtual.conf
and test the FTP access of a virtual user:
# lftp -u mary -p 60021
The virtual user should have full access to his directory.


  1. Great tutorial, but if the ftp server is up and running, how can I add and delete users?

  2. This is fair easy:

    1. Redo some things of step 2:

    Update the plain text file `virtual-users.txt’ you did before with the usernames and passwords on alternating lines:


    Then execute again the following command to create the actual database:

    # db_load -T -t hash -f virtual-users.txt /etc/vsftpd/virtual-users.db

    Redo the step 4 for the new user folder:

    # mkdir /var/www/virtual/mynewuser
    # chown ftp:ftp /var/www/virtual/mynewuser

    That'll do.

  3. Great howto! Useful for a standalone set up but where can find one where I can set up virtual users and regular accounts all running on port 21? Meaning those with shell access and those without shell access can both use an ftp client on port 21.

    I use pair networks and I have ftp access for my shell account and can set up virtual ftp accounts all on port 21.

  4. I'd like to know the same thing... How do I set up vsftpd so that regular users (those in /etc/passwd) AND virtual users have access? Thx, B.

  5. Excellent. Did it in 20 min. with ssl !!!!
    Easier than I thought

  6. How to I reset all pertinent config files resulting from previous attempts with other tutorials, in order to try a "pure" version of this one? I'm using centos. I'm not really hopeful that it would really make a difference, as this tutorial sets its own configuration files, so it shouldn't be an issue, I guess. But anyway, if anyone knows about some easier way to do that (get rid of configuration files that may be conflicting), I'd like a lot to know. Thanks.

  7. I get this on debian lenny, when I run "db_load -T -t hash -f vsftpd_users.txt /etc/vsftpd/virtual-users.db":

    bash: db_load: command not found


  8. yeah im getting same error as jacob

    bash: db_load: command not found ??? any ideas im using ubuntu hardy

  9. doesn't matter i fixed it via using the following command

    db4.2_load -T -t hash -f virtual-users.txt /etc/vsftpd/virtual-users.db

  10. [...] Źródło: [...]

  11. I get this error when starting the ftp server:
    500 OOPS: could not bind listening IPv4 socket

    Can anyone help?

  12. Is there anyway to have domain centric authentication ?
    So domains and will have different users ?

  13. [...] my last article, I described how to setup VSFTPD virtual users. In this article, I will describe another approach [...]

  14. I have followed these instructions Steps 1 through 4. When I try step 5, I get "500 OOPS: missing value in config file for: for each virtual user". I'm using CentOS 5.6. I have removed vsftpd, rebooted and reinstalled. Again, I get the same message when trying to start vsftpd (Step 5). I copied the entire config text from Step 3 without making changes..

    Yes, I am a NOOB. Please Advise.

  15. It seems your config file has some error, did you mis-delete the first '#' in the first line beblow?

    # specifies a home directory for each virtual user

  16. Found the issue - When I copied the configuration from Step 3, there was a return between "specifies a home directory" and "for each virtual user".

    Also, on Step 4, I found I needed to use the switch "-p" to create the directory.


  17. Hi

    it worked for me but how can i combine this with SSL ?


  18. [...] Setup of VSFTPD virtual users | Linux for FunApr 5, 2008 … A simple instruction on setup of VSFTPD virtual users and directories. [...]

  19. I want to convert the aboue virtual ftp users to LDAP user auth. Is it possible? If possible then how ? could it be possible to get the steps to do it.

    Note: I have a LDAP server to manage the users and for other systems i use ldap://

  20. Any body could answer me at the earliest......

  21. Thank you, worked like a charm!

  22. [...] [...]

  23. Im did step by step, but still cant connect from ftp client.
    Anyone can help me ?,
    Thanks you very muh

  24. 500 OOPS: vsftpd: refusing to run with writable root inside chroot()

  25. I'm getting stuck at the end of step two.

    auth required db=/etc/vsftpd/virtual-users - this does not work for me.

    i get error 'bash: auth: command not found...' when i use the above command. anyone can help me?

  26. nd... i got it. i'm such a noob

  27. […] Thank you for the reply, I was trying to follow this tutorial. […]

  28. You should note that on Debian, after an upgrade to to Wheezy the configuration above stops working with 'LOGIN failed'.

    In Wheezy, vsftpd won't log because the pamd libraries have been moved to a different path.

    editing your etc/pam.d/vsftpd and changing the paths should solve the problem :

    auth required /lib/i386-linux-gnu/security/ db=/etc/vsftpd/virtual-users
    account required /lib/i386-linux-gnu/security/ db=/etc/vsftpd/virtual-users

    (change the /lib//lib/i386-linux-gnu/security according to your system).

    If you can't easily find them :
    # sudo apt-get install locate (if you don't already have locate installed)
    # sudo updatedb
    # locate

    That one had me searching a whole morning for the reason i couldn't login in with vsftpd anymore, i though I'd share :)