FTP Server on OS X Server?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by carlsson, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. carlsson macrumors 6502


    Jul 18, 2001
    I have turned on the FTP service on my OS X Server, that hosts a couple of domains. However, I have some problems...

    I have searched for info about the FTP Server to no avail. It seems impossible to find any info about this?

    Can any of you guys point me to a good place for more info about the built in FTP Server?

  2. HenryAZ macrumors 6502a


    Jan 9, 2010
    South Congress AZ
    Have you looked at "man ftpd"?
  3. CarreraGuy macrumors regular


    Jan 15, 2013
    You can turn on 'Remote Login' via System Preferences->Sharing.

    And you'll get 'ssh' and 'sftp', which is better than ftp.
  4. mac8867 macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2010
    Saint Augustine, FL
    I like enabling ftp on my server so I can give users a link to retrieve/upload files. Really helpful for files larger than 5 MB, directories etc.

    Since Lion, you have to enable the ftp server from the command prompt:

    sudo -s launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist
  5. carlsson thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 18, 2001
    I am a GUI kind of guy and since Apple is/should be/is famous for, I anticipate that the Server Preference pane should've been better than what it is.

    What I really want to do is the following:
    I host a couple of domains on my Mac with Server installed.
    The domains are not mine, but friends of mine.
    Domains and email work good, but I can't get the FTP Server to host proparly - I want the different domain owners to have FTP access to their respective domains. So they can update their web sites without my help.

    User "domain1.com" logs in with her user name and password from her FTP application.
    User "domain2.com" logs in with her different name and password, and see what's in *hers* web folder.
    ...and so on.

    As it is now, they end up in the same folder, or not a folder at all, or they don't have access and everything is just messed up and I just can't get a grip of what's going on.

    Gaaah...! :(

    I buy a virtual beer for anyone that can help me! ;)
  6. mac8867 macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2010
    Saint Augustine, FL
    Sometimes life just doesn't have a GUI. If you are going to host for other people, you will have to get your hands a little dirty and use terminal. My previous post held the commands necessary to enable the FTP server on Mac. It is very important that you get that part done.

    Step 1: For each of your customers, create a User account via System Preferences. Each user will have a home directory in /Users/xxxxxx. Make them "Standard" users, not Administrators or Sharing Only. Make sure you have the passwords to give to your domain owners.

    Step 2: When you create a new domain in OXS Server, you have the option of choosing the location of where the files are stored. (It's the "Store Files in" option) You can even change the location of an existing domain. So, for each of your domains, change the location to the respective /Users/xxxxxx.

    Step 3: Tell your users they can access their domain at the following URL:
    This works in Safari, Firefox, IE... etc (it's a pretty common feature of browsers to handle FTP)

    voila. If you experience file permissions issues either for your users, or the web server. Make certain the OWNER of files should be the user accounts, and the web server should run as the root user. This will avoid any permissions issues.
  7. carlsson thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 18, 2001
    Thank you mate!

  8. carlsson thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 18, 2001
    Mac8867 - Don't drink it all just yet please.

    I *still* can't get this to work!

    For every new user I create, they connect to the last know FTP folder. No matter what I set in as User Home Directory, or FTP setting or whatever. It feels like the server settings have a life on their own, and no matter what I do it won't work as expected.

    I'm going crazy.

    For example; what should the settings for this be:
    Login Shell?
    Local User or Local Network User?
    FTP Root settings?
  9. Silencio macrumors 68020


    Jul 18, 2002
    If you're serious about running an FTP server on your Mac OS X Server, want a good GUI, and are willing to spend a little, I highly recommend CrushFTP. It's a fantastically powerful and flexible FTP server. Licenses start at $40 for home users or $70 for business use.
  10. carlsson thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 18, 2001
    CrushFTP seems like the choice then.

    I have updated to Mavericks now at least.

    I'm currently reading ArsTechnica's article about OS X Server and one thing strikes me: "However, you can only have one FTP share point configured at a time, making it a poor choice if you're serving several sites you'd like to access via FTP."

    Then my question is: If I go SFTP - will that work?

    FTP is old and bad, I know. But at least everybody understands what it is. That's why I have tried to configure FTP. But maybe today every FTP client also understands SFTP. If so, I may not have a problem...?

  11. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Slightly related, but should I understand Snow Leopard really was the last proper OS X server version?
  12. crittle1 macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2014
    I just went through the same issue 2 days ago. Ended up having to install PureFTPd, which worked just as I liked.

    It's just nice to have a sweet interface to see what's going on sometimes.
  13. carlsson thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 18, 2001
    I upgraded to Mavericks yesterday, and there are actually a couple of differences from Mountain Lion. It's somewhat easier to understand and it also seems faster. The tutorials are great. Small details.

    However, I gave up on FTP and tried SFTP instead. And as far as I can tell it works as it should!

    I looked at CrushFTP and it seems really good. But I'll try to solve this with the OS X Server software as a start at least.

    A reflection: Is no one using Mac and OS X Server to host a couple of domains anymore?
  14. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Sep 5, 2013
    Oregon, USA
  15. irnchriz macrumors 65816


    May 2, 2005
    One of my clients uses Rumpus for FTP And wfm. Works really well, a little bit pricey if you don't have a lot of users though.
  16. AmestrisXServe macrumors 6502

    Feb 6, 2014
    It sounds to me that you haven't configured your domain aliases and locations in your DNS.

    As long as your DNS recordsfor that domain all point to the server, any domain hosted from your IP can be used to FTP into your system. If you forceFTP logi nto show a user's home directory,then they will always see their stuff on login.

    You need to add a DNS entry for each domain,and set each to a unique directory. I usually make a www directory under the user as:


    I assign the domain name of the user to that www directory. This gives them space to use for FTP that is not on their website; it is above their website directory structure.

    After I assign this, the user should be able to FTP into theirdomainname.com, using any protocol, and ssh or telnet into the same.as their account. Be sure to set (in Server Admin->FTP>Advanced):

    Authenticated Users See: (Home Directory Only).

    I'm really not sure what is giving you problems, but to be frank, if you want to run a server of any scope, you need to be ready to use a shell. You may need to edit ftpd.conf at some point. I suggest keeping regular backups of all of your config files.

    When ftpd.conf became corrupted for me a while back, users could connect by FTP, but no-one could log into the system (even root!)...

    What exactly is not working when you set up a site?

    (I don't see the value in a secondary FTP server for OSX Server... The whole point of OSX Server is that these services are all included and connected through Server Admin.)

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