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what linux distro are you using? You are best off running vsftpd as a stnadalone server, rather than through xinetd. If you are using Red Hat linux issue the following commands
"chkconfig --level 35 vsftpd on" and then "restart vsftpd". If your /etc/vsftpd/vsftpd.conf is configured correctly you should be ok.
make sure you can restart another service, ie "service nfs restart" or "service sendmail restart". These are just a couple of examples, you can try any service. If these commands work ok, I would suggest you reinstall the vsftpd rpm, with the following commands
1 "rpm -e <vsftpd pacgage name>" you obtained this before by doing rpm -qa | grep vsftpd. This uninstalls vsftpd
2 "redhat-config-packages" and as long as you have the red hat cds to hand you can choose to reinstall the vsftpd rpm. If using fedora type "system-config-packages".