Open Source

Using FileZilla on Linux

Recently, the open source FileZilla FTP client became available for Mac OS X and Linux. Previous versions of FileZilla were only available for Windows.

Using the wxWidgets cross-platform user interface, FileZilla now can be used with a consistent look-and-feel on multiple operating systems. The only prerequisite is to have the wxWidgets package installed. Some Linux vendors provide a packaged version of wxWidgets, such as Mandriva Linux, so installation of wxWidgets may only be an apt-get or urpmi away. For others that do not provide it, you will need to download and compile wxWidgets.

To begin, make sure wxWidgets is installed and then download FileZilla from the Web site. Keep in mind that FileZilla 3 is still currently in a beta status, but it should be at release status soon. For Linux, download the i586-linux-gnu package, such as FileZilla_3.0.0-rc3_i586-linux-gnu.tar.bz2.

Unpack FileZilla wherever you wish to install it. The package contains a precompiled binary, so you may want to install into ~/bin/ or /usr/local:

$ cd ~/bin/
$ tar xvjf FileZilla_3.0.0-rc3_i586-linux-gnu.tar.bz2

You can either add ~/bin/FileZilla/bin/ to your path or create a simple wrapper to call FileZilla and place the wrapper script in your path:

~/bin/FileZilla3/bin/filezilla $*

FileZilla has support for transferring files via FTP, FTP over SSL, or SFTP. It has a nice multipaned view that allows you to navigate remote folders as well as local folders, a queue pane that indicates files being transferred, estimated transfer time, speed, etc. It even has a pane that shows the raw FTP commands being issued.

It comes with a "Quickconnect" interface that remembers what sites you have recently visited, allowing you to quickly reconnect to those sites with minimal work. You can also queue files for later downloading, allowing you to select a number of files, queue them, select some more, and have them all download in one shot once you're ready to begin the transfers. This way, you can queue some files for download and also immediately download others, simply by right-clicking on the file name. Or you can do immediate transfers by dragging files from the remote list to the local list, and vice versa.

Being a beta, there are still some rough edges, but on the whole, it works quite well, some visual interface quirks aside.

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Vincent Danen works on the Red Hat Security Response Team and lives in Canada. He has been writing about and developing on Linux for over 10 years and is a veteran Mac user.

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