How to Install Pure-FTPD on Ubuntu Linux with SSL/TLS Certificates

This article describes steps one can take to install and configure Pure-FTPD on Ubuntu Linux with SSL/TLS certificates.

Using FTP protocol is probably the easiest way to transfer files between a server and client computers. Anyone can simply download an FTP client and begin transferring files; however, it is inherently insecure in its standard form.

A more secure way to use FTP is via FTP over SSH or SFTP. If you are unable to configure SFTP, then the closest thing will be to enable SSL/TLS certificates with your setup or FTPS

The reason you may want SSL/TLS enabled on FTP is that FTP communicates over an insecure channel, and someone with the right tool could intercept data between the server and the client reading it.

With SSL/TLS, even if the data is intercepted, they may still be unable to read the content, and that’s because of the extra security.

How to Install Pure-FTPD in Ubuntu Linux

First, install Pure-FTPD. To install Pure-FTPD on Ubuntu Linux, run the commands below.

sudo apt update 
sudo apt-get install pure-ftpd

After installing Pure-FTPD, the commands below can be used to stop, start and enable the server service to always start up when the server boots.

sudo systemctl stop pure-ftpd.service
sudo systemctl start pure-ftpd.service
sudo systemctl enable pure-ftpd.service

How to create a self-signed SSL/TLS certificate in Ubuntu Linux

Now that Pure-FTPD is installed, run the commands below to generate a self-signed SSL/TLS certificate for the server. the commands create both the server key and certificate files and store them in the/etc/SSL/private directory.

You must keep both server key and certificate file names to be pure-ftpd.pem and should live in the /etc/ssl/private directory.

sudo openssl req -x509 -nodes -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/ssl/private/pure-ftpd.pem -out /etc/ssl/private/pure-ftpd.pem -days 365

After running the commands above, you’ll be prompted to answer a few questions about the certificate you’re generating… answer them and complete the process.

Generating a 2048 bit RSA private key
writing new private key to '/etc/ssl/private/pure-ftpd.pem'
You are about to be asked to enter information that will be incorporated
into your certificate request.
What you are about to enter is what is called a Distinguished Name or a DN.
There are quite a few fields but you can leave some blank
For some fields there will be a default value,
If you enter '.', the field will be left blank.
Country Name (2 letter code) [AU]:US
State or Province Name (full name) [Some-State]:New York
Locality Name (eg, city) []:Brooklyn
Organization Name (eg, company) [Internet Widgits Pty Ltd]:Website for Students
Organizational Unit Name (eg, section) []:SSL Unit
Common Name (e.g. server FQDN or YOUR name) []
Email Address []

Pure-FTPD server will use the key and certificate created above.

How to configure Pure-FTPD with SSL/TLS certificate

Now that you’ve generated the server private key and certificate files, go and configure Pure-FTPD to use the SSL/TLS certificate created above.

To do that, run the commands below as root (sudo bash) to force Pure-FTPD to communicate over TLS.

sudo bash
echo "2" > /etc/pure-ftpd/conf/TLS

After adding the highlighted lines to the file, save it. Then run the commands below to restart the Pure-FTPD server.

sudo systemctl restart pure-ftpd

Now grab your favorite FTP client (FileZilla) and set up a new site in your site management and use FTP protocol with encryption with explicit FTP over TLS. Type your username and password and connect.

vsftpd ssl connection

You should be prompted with a certificate. accept the certificate and continue. You may check the box at the bottom of the page to trust the certificate so you don’t get prompted in the future.

vsftpd ubuntu ssl

You should now be transferring files securely via SSL/TLS.

vsftpd ubuntu ssl

That should do it!


This post showed you how to install and configure Pure-FTPD in Ubuntu Linux with SSL/TLS certificate. If you find any error above or have something to add, please use the comment form below.