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How to create an FTP server on an Ubuntu 12.04 virtual machine

Lauren Malhoit walks you through the steps for setting up a Linux Ubuntu 12.04 server with a second hard drive as a VMware virtual machine.

I've been playing around with different ways of implementing FTP lately--that is, whether to use Windows, Linux, or just some sort of storage device with built-in FTP capabilities. I spent a bit of time creating an Ubuntu 12.04 FTP server and thought I'd share that experience in this post. As mentioned before, I'll be going through setting up a Linux Ubuntu 12.04 server, with a second hard drive, as a VMware VM. I chose vsftpd as my FTP server.

Install Ubuntu 12.04 Virtual Machine

I'm assuming you're familiar with setting up VMs, so these steps are somewhat vague, noting some caveats.

1. Download the Ubuntu 12.04 server ISO and create a new VM with it.

2. Step through the initial Ubuntu configuration wizard. When it asks you to specify how you'd like to partition the boot volume, make sure you specify "Guided with LVM."

3. Log in with the username you created during the setup wizard and then type "sudo su root" to change to root. Changing to the root user is optional, but if you decide not to do it, you will need to type "sudo" before all of your commands.

4. Change to a static IP address:

root:/# nano /etc/network/interfaces

This takes you to the interfaces config, which you'll need to alter to reflect your IP schema. For example:

auto eth0

iface eth0 inet static




Within the nano environment, type ctrl + o to write the changes. Then press ENTER to save it to the same file name. Finally press ctrl + x to exit nano.

Add a second hard drive

It's nice to put data on a second hard drive. That way you can upgrade your OS and troubleshoot problems without having to worry too much about losing your data.

1. Edit the settings on your VM and add a hard drive.

2. List the current disks on your machine and see the second hard drive (ex: Figure A shows sdb)
root:/# fdisk -l

Figure A

3. Partition the second hard drive

root:/# fdisk /dev/sdb

Type the following while in the fdisk menu:

n (to create a new disk)

p (to make it a primary disk)

1 (to name the disk /sdb1)

Except the defaults for the first sector and last sector by pressing ENTER.

w (to write the changes)

4. Update the kernel with the changes

root:/#  partrobe /dev/sdb

5. Format the new partition

root:/#  mkfs /dev/sdb1 -t ext4

Mount the home directory to the new partition

After I create a user for my FTP, I'll want them to store their data on the second hard drive. So, you play kind of a shell game to mount /home to the new partition without losing any data that is currently in your /home directory.

1.  Mount the new partition

root:/#  mkdir /mnt/home1
root:/#  mount -t ext4 /dev/sdb1 /mnt/home1

2. Copy data from your old home to the new home1

root:/# cd /home
root:/# find . -depth -print0 | cpio --null --sparse -pvd /mnt/home1

3. Check that everything copied

root:/#  cd /

root:/#  cd /mnt/home1

root:/#  ls

‘ls' should list all the files that were copied.

4. Unmount /mnt/home1

root:/# umount /mnt/home1

5. Rename the old home directory

root:/# mv /home /home_old

6. Create a new home directory

root:/# mkdir /home

7. Mount the new home directory to the second hard drive

root:/#  mount /dev/sdb1 /home

8. Make this change permanent so that it remains mounted even after a restart by altering the fstab file

root:/# nano /etc/fstab

Add this line to the file:

/dev/sdb1            /home            ext4            nodev,nosuid            0            2

Type ctrl + o, ENTER, ctrl + x.

9. Check then double check after a restart

root:/# cd /home
root:/# ls

10. Now you can remove the old home directory

root:/# rm -r /home_old

Configure FTP

1. Install VSFTPD

root:/# apt-get install vsftpd

Type Y to continue with instal.

2. Change the config file for vsftpd

root:/# nano /etc/vsftpd.conf

Make at least the following changes, however read the man pages to see if there are other configurations you'd like to change, such as adding passive IP addresses and ports or other security enhancements:

a.  Remove # from before local_enable=YES to uncomment it.

b.  Remove # from before write_enable=YES to uncomment it.

c.  Change the no to yes by chroot_local_user (ex: chroot_local_user=YES).

d.  Type ctrl+0, ENTER, ctrl+x.

3. Restart the vsftpd service

root:/# service vsftpd restart

4. Create a local user so people can authenticate when trying to connect to the FTP server

root:/# useradd ftp
root:/# passwd ftp

Type in password

5. Create a home directory for user ftp

root:/# cd /home

root:/# mkdir ftp

root:/# chmod a-w ftp

At this point you should have a working FTP server. You can either connect with a client such as FileZilla, or you can connect using the command line using the command "ftp" If you're setting this up for users outside the network, you may have to check your firewall settings to ensure the proper ports are open, and it may require more work in the vsftpd.conf file depending on if you're using passive or active ftp.


Lauren Malhoit is a VMware vExpert '12, '13 and a member of the EMC Elect. She works as a Solutions Implementation Engineer at Network Storage Inc., where her main concentrations are on VMware, EMC, and Cisco. She has a degree in Computational Mathem...


Thanks for your article. It works fine like a short reminder of what needs to be done. There is an issue regarding vsftpd configuration though which needs to be addressed sometimes, solution comes when upgrading vsftpd to 3.0 like this : sudo add-apt-repository ppa:thefrontiergroup/vsftpd sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install vsftpd There are a lot of posts covering this issue and it is not my question here. Question is: if I connect from my laptop using Filezilla, it works fine. However if I use command line ftp from another ubuntu machine, it??s Wu ftp on the other side answering the phone, not vsftpd, why is that ? Are there different ports being used by default when using ftp client from the command line ?