Originally Posted by Wendy Grimmette
How to setup a Linux box as a FTP server for remote users in the environment? Also, the advantages of FTP over e-mail attachments. This is for a class assignment, natually due today.
Well I'm glad that you didn't ask for anything complicated, whereas this is due today and such.
odcheck's response is correct but requires that you learn all about vsftp before you know the answer to your questions.
Unfortunately for you, as with many configuration issues in computer science, there are many ways to do this. In real life your choice of configuration depends on your environment. This answer isn't any more helpful than odcheck's so I'll try something simple. Keep in mind that your class lectures and text book may have the answer that your professor is seeking. Any other perfectly good answer may not be acceptable to your professor.
The FTP server for people on the local LAN. (I hope that you mean people on the local LAN.)
1) Set up the ftp server software. Since this is a dedicated server you will want to have the ftpd daemon running all of the time rather than having it called on demand from inetd.
2) If the FTP server has data that everyone on the local LAN is allowed to read then the FTP server software can allow anonymous access.
3) Keep people that are not on the local LAN from accessing the FTP server by using a firewall such as iptables. It can reject connect requests from IP addresses outside of the LAN IP address range. You can also have a list of approved MAC addresses that are allowed to connect to the server. Unfortunately, both of these methods can be circumvented by masqerading. That is why you want an additional firewall between your LAN and the outside world. This firewall would drop all inbound FTP connect requests.
If you want more security you would disable anonymous access of the FTP server and require that people have a user account and log in to the server.
Email attachments vs. FTP server. Hmmm. It really really depends on your email software. The only possible advantage to using FTP over email attachments has to do with saving disk space. The following paragraphs discuss this possibility.
If you set up your email server as an IMAP server then the email and its attachments remain on the server. One example of this is web mail. If you access an email server via a web browser then you read your email but it remains on the server. This is in contrast to POP3 where the email can be downloaded from the server to the client and then deleted from the server.
Some IMAP server software can be set up so that if you sent an email with an attachment to a bunch of people there is only one copy of the email and one copy of the attachment on the IMAP server. In this case there is no advantage to using FTP. The FTP would be more trouble for the end users than using an email attachment.
If you are using an IMAP configuration that makes a separate copy of an email message and its attachment for every person to whom the email is sent then you are going to use a lot of disk space on the server for storing identical information. In this case having an FTP server would provide the ability to save disk space by having one shared copy of the file that would have been attached to an email.
If you are using a POP3 configuration for an email server then the same problem of having many copies of the same file exists. However, in a POP3 configuration the attachment may have a copy of the file on the email server for each recipient and an additional copy for each recipient in each POP3 client's individual email folder. This is a huge waste of disk space if the POP3 clients keep their email on a shared network disk. In this case having one copy of the shared file on an FTP server saves disk space.
In all cases the FTP solution is more trouble to the end user than using email attachments because the FTP solution requires the end users to perform more steps to read the shared file. I think that is self evident.
A better solution, but not mentioned as an option, would be to use a shared network disk to store the file to be shared. You can use NFS or SMB/CIFS to create the shared network disk. NFS stands for Network File System and was created by Sun Microsystems. It has been used in the Unix world for a long time and is available on Linux. SMB/CIFS stands for Server Message Block/Common Internet File System. It was created by IBM and is used by Microsoft Windows for network shared disks. It is also available on Unix and Linux in the form of the Samba project. (www.samba.org
) Your email could contain a pointer (URL) to the file on the shared network disk. This is very similar to the FTP solution but it is much less trouble for the end users. You can control access to the network shared disk and to directories and files on the shared disk via Kerberos and LDAP. Kerberos corresponds to Windows LanManager domain authentication and LDAP corresponds to Windows Active Directory. Microsoft got these ideas from the Unix world.
I hope this helps. If any of this reminds you of a class lecture or something out of your text book then that is a good sign.