There is a new version of this tutorial available for Debian 5 (Lenny).

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This is a "copy & paste" HowTo! The easiest way to follow this tutorial is to use a command line client/SSH client (like PuTTY for Windows) and simply copy and paste the commands (except where you have to provide own information like IP addresses, hostnames, passwords,...). This helps to avoid typos.

Virtual Hosting With Proftpd And MySQL (Incl. Quota)

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme

This document describes how to install a Proftpd server that uses virtual users from a MySQL database instead of real system users. This is much more performant and allows to have thousands of ftp users on a single machine. In addition to that I will show the use of quota with this setup.

For the administration of the MySQL database you can use web based tools like phpMyAdmin which will also be installed in this howto. phpMyAdmin is a comfortable graphical interface which means you do not have to mess around with the command line.

This tutorial is based on Debian Sarge (Debian 3.1). You should already have set up a basic Debian system, as described here: and It should apply to other Debian-based distributions like Ubuntu, Knoppix, etc. without modifications. On other distributions like SuSE, Fedora, Mandriva, etc. only the Proftpd installation is different; the configuration of Proftpd should apply to these distributions as well.

This howto is meant as a practical guide; it does not cover the theoretical backgrounds. They are treated in a lot of other documents in the web.

This document comes without warranty of any kind! I want to say that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

1 Install MySQL And phpMyAdmin

This can all be installed with one single command:

apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client libmysqlclient12-dev phpmyadmin

You will be asked a few questions:

Enable suExec? <-- Yes
Configuring mysql-server (Install Hints) <-- OK
Which web server would you like to reconfigure automatically? <-- apache, apache2
Do you want me to restart apache now? <-- Yes

Create a password for the MySQL user root (replace yourrootsqlpassword with the password you want to use):

mysqladmin -u root password yourrootsqlpassword

2 Install Proftpd With MySQL support

For Debian there is a pre-configured proftpd-mysql package available. Install it as a standalone daemon like this:

apt-get install proftpd-mysql

Run proftpd from inetd or standalone? <-- standalone

Then we create an ftp group ("ftpgroup") and user ("ftpuser") that all our virtual users will be mapped to. Replace the group- and userid 2001 with a number that is free on your system:

groupadd -g 2001 ftpgroup
useradd -u 2001 -s /bin/false -d /bin/null -c "proftpd user" -g ftpgroup ftpuser

3 Create The MySQL Database For Proftpd

Now we create a database called ftp and a MySQL user named proftpd which the proftpd daemon will use later on to connect to the ftp database:

mysql -u root -p
create database ftp;
GRANT SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE ON ftp.* TO 'proftpd'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
GRANT SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE ON ftp.* TO 'proftpd'@'localhost.localdomain' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';

Replace the string password with whatever password you want to use for the MySQL user proftpd. Still on the MySQL shell, we create the database tables we need:

USE ftp;

CREATE TABLE ftpgroup (
groupname varchar(16) NOT NULL default '',
gid smallint(6) NOT NULL default '5500',
members varchar(16) NOT NULL default '',
KEY groupname (groupname)
) TYPE=MyISAM COMMENT='ProFTP group table';

CREATE TABLE ftpquotalimits (
name varchar(30) default NULL,
quota_type enum('user','group','class','all') NOT NULL default 'user',
per_session enum('false','true') NOT NULL default 'false',
limit_type enum('soft','hard') NOT NULL default 'soft',
bytes_in_avail int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
bytes_out_avail int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
bytes_xfer_avail int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
files_in_avail int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
files_out_avail int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
files_xfer_avail int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0'

CREATE TABLE ftpquotatallies (
name varchar(30) NOT NULL default '',
quota_type enum('user','group','class','all') NOT NULL default 'user',
bytes_in_used int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
bytes_out_used int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
bytes_xfer_used int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
files_in_used int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
files_out_used int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
files_xfer_used int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0'

CREATE TABLE ftpuser (
id int(10) unsigned NOT NULL auto_increment,
userid varchar(32) NOT NULL default '',
passwd varchar(32) NOT NULL default '',
uid smallint(6) NOT NULL default '5500',
gid smallint(6) NOT NULL default '5500',
homedir varchar(255) NOT NULL default '',
shell varchar(16) NOT NULL default '/sbin/nologin',
count int(11) NOT NULL default '0',
accessed datetime NOT NULL default '0000-00-00 00:00:00',
modified datetime NOT NULL default '0000-00-00 00:00:00',
UNIQUE KEY userid (userid)
) TYPE=MyISAM COMMENT='ProFTP user table';


As you may have noticed, with the quit; command we have left the MySQL shell and are back on the Linux shell.

BTW, (I'm suggesting that the hostname of your ftp server system is you can access phpMyAdmin over (you can use the IP address instead of in a browser and log in as proftpd. Then you can have a look at the database. Later on you can use phpMyAdmin to administrate your Proftpd server.

Falko Timme

About Falko Timme

Falko Timme is an experienced Linux administrator and founder of Timme Hosting, a leading nginx business hosting company in Germany. He is one of the most active authors on HowtoForge since 2005 and one of the core developers of ISPConfig since 2000. He has also contributed to the O'Reilly book "Linux System Administration".

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By: nonsparker

I was struggling with setting up an ftp server and this how-to made it very easy. I love this site and I hope you guys keep it up.

By: Rautamiekka

This guide is old, meaning parts don't work anymore or are deprecated.

1) The SQL codes aren't working.

2) At least SQLHomedirOnDemand is deprecated.

3) The packages have other names.