Proftpd FTP server initialization problem using uBuntu


I had been battling with this particular issue for a while on my virtual machine running uBuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron. Basically it was a straight through install of 8.04, after which I installed lampp for PHP, mySQL, and FTP services so that I could host a couple of websites on this virtual machine.

At first everything was running 100% I hadn’t changed the default FTP server configuration that appeared to be working out of the box from the base install. Then one day I decided I wanted to play around with some settings and ended up somehow removing my FTP server – not entirely though as something was continuing to hold port 21 up and not allow me to use any other FTP server that used port 21.

What I did was I configured proftpd which seems to have come along with my install of lampp (Also known as xampp). I configured my users, IP address and all other details, but I was still getting problems when trying to connect via FTP from another PC on the local network.

Trying to start proftpd from the command line sudo /etc/init.d/proftpd start would result in the service appearing to start, but it wouldn’t actually be running. I confirmed this by opening the gproftpd GUI from System – Administration – GPROFTPD. The status at the top right of the GUI would say “Deactivated”

A very helpful user on the ubuntu forums also showed me a useful debug command that helped me identify my problem.

From the terminal, type:

sudo proftpd -nd6

This apparently starts proftpd in debug level 6.

It gives you a bunch of diagnostic information, and on the last line I spotted my problem:

Failed binding to ::, port 21: Address already in use

So, something else was already using port 21. Obviously my old FTP server’s remnants somewhere. Now to figure out what was using it.

sudo netstat -anp --tcp --udp | grep LISTEN

From that command, I found a line with :21 in it (indicating port 21) and at the end of the line, I found the process name and process ID number. The process in my case was inetd.

Now I went to see what the inetd.conf file had in it in terms of configuration:

sudo nano /etc/inetd.conf

This loads the nano text editor and displays the contents of the file. I had :

ftp stream tcp nowait root /usr/sbin/tcpd /usr/sbin/in.ftpd

I made a copy of this inetd.conf file as a backup, and then deleted that entire line, as that was obviously what was holding port 21. Ctrl-X exits the editor, and I chose to press “Y” to save changes.

Now I needed to kill and restart the inetd process. I used :

sudo killall -HUP inetd

This kills the process, and allows inetd to restart and reload the inetd.conf file.

I went back to my proftpd.conf file and ensured it was setup to use port 21 for FTP connections, then restarted the proftpd service with :

sudo /etc/init.d/proftpd stop
sudo /etc/init.d/proftpd start

Then finally I went back to my other PC, and retried the FTP connection using FileZilla FTP client, and finally got connected! I hope this helps anyone with similar issues, as I had to use multiple sources to try and figure out what was causing this and where.