SFTPPlus Documentation

Start Page 2. Installation and Upgrade Instructions 2.4. Advanced Linux installation

2.4. Advanced Linux installation

2.4.1. Overview

Make sure to follow the instructions from the Linux installation page before diving in the following sections.

This page adds specific installation instructions for Linux distributions not using systemd. Most of the information from the Linux installation page is still applicable and required.

This page also documents advanced installation setups for all supported Linux distributions.

2.4.2. Init system configuration for Linux distributions not using systemd

For SysV-based distributions (or SysV-compatible ones), such as Amazon Linux AMI 2018.03, RHEL 5 and 6, SLES 11, Ubuntu Server 14.04, Debian Linux 7, etc., a sample init script is provided.

Make sure the script is executable, then amend the INSTALL_ROOT variable to the installation path of your SFTPPlus instance.

Copy the modified script to the standard location used by the initialization system of your distribution:

cd /opt/sftpplus
vi bin/sftpplus-mft.sysv.sh
chmod +x bin/sftpplus-mft.sysv.sh
cp bin/sftpplus-mft.sysv.sh /etc/init.d/sftpplus-mft

Then you can call the script directly as:

/etc/init.d/sftpplus-mft COMMAND

On Alpine Linux, you may use the included OpenRC service file, customizing the INSTALL_ROOT variable if needed for your installation:

cd /opt/sftpplus
vi bin/sftpplus-mft.openrc.sh
chmod +x bin/sftpplus-mft.openrc.sh
cp bin/sftpplus-mft.openrc.sh /etc/init.d/sftpplus-mft

Then you may use:

rc-service sftpplus-mft COMMAND

The following COMMANDs are available:

  • start
  • stop
  • restart
  • status
  • debug (start without detaching from current console)
  • force-stop (only for the SysV init script)
  • zap (only for the OpenRC service file)
  • describe (only for the OpenRC service file)

Starting SFTPPlus automatically on boot can be set through a specific tool. The following examples (run under the root account) show how to do that on supported distributions.

On Amazon Linux AMI 2018.03, RHEL 5 and 6, SLES 11:

chkconfig --add sftpplus-mft

On Alpine Linux:

rc-update add sftpplus-mft

2.4.3. Configuring the process user and group on Alpine Linux

The generic Linux commands should work on Alpine Linux too, as long as you have the shadow package installed.

Alternatively, to create an sftpplus group and user on Alpine Linux with the default-installed tools, use:

addgroup sftpplus
adduser -G sftpplus -s /bin/sh -h /opt/sftpplus -H -D sftpplus

2.4.4. SFTPPlus directory hierarchy and permissions

Once unpacked, the SFTPPlus installation should have the following hierarchical directory structure on disk.

This list also describes the permissions required for the service account.

  • bin/ - read-only Contains SFTPPlus administration commands and the init-specific files.
  • configuration/ - read-only Stores all data related to SFTPPlus configuration.
  • configuration/server.ini - read-and-write Stores the main configuration.
  • doc/ - read-only Contains documentation and release notes for SFTPPlus.
  • extension/ - read-only Contains custom extensions implemented using the SFTPPlus API.
  • include/ - read-only This directory is for developers interested in extending the functionality of SFTPPlus. May be missing in some releases.
  • lib/ - read-only This directory is for internal use.
  • log/ - read, write, create file and delete file Stores SFTPPlus log messages. SFTPPlus will write log entries into the log files, by default. When log rotation is enabled, it will also create new rotated files and delete old rotated files.
  • run/ - read, write, create file and delete file Stores various SFTPPlus runtime information.

2.4.5. Customizing the process of starting SFTPPlus

For your convenience, the SFTPPlus installation comes with files to be integrated into the startup process of supported distributions, as discussed in the relevant sections of the Linux installation pages.

All these integrated init and unit files are using common commands for starting and stopping the SFTPPlus product, as described below.

To start the server, use the following command:

cd /opt/sftpplus
./bin/admin-commands.sh start

By default it will start using the configuration file located at configuration/server.ini and will store the process ID in the run/server.pid file.

To stop the server, send the kill signal to the process ID stored in the run/server.pid file.

To store the process ID in a different file, start the server using -p or –pid arguments:

cd /opt/sftpplus
./bin/admin-commands.sh start --pid=/path/to/PID_FILE

If you want to launch the server using a configuration file from a specific location, use the -c or –config= argument:

cd /opt/sftpplus
./bin/admin-commands.sh start --config=/path/to/CONFIGURATION_FILE

2.4.6. Running SFTPPlus daemon/service under an unprivileged account

Like any other OS process, the main process of SFTPPlus runs under an operating-system account.

SFTPPlus can start under the root OS account, and then drop privileges in order to mainly operate under a regular OS account.

As in most deployments such a regular account is dedicated to running SFTPPlus, our documentation refers to this regular OS account as the service account.

We recommend to always run SFTPPlus under such an unprivileged OS account, even when the SFTPPlus process is launched as root.

In this regard, the SFTPPlus process has 2 main modes of operation, each one with its own advantages and disadvantages.

2.4.6.1. Start as unprivileged account and always operate under it

This is the default mode on Linux and macOS.

The included unit, init, service, plist files are configured to start SFTPPlus as an unprivileged user.

Also make sure the configuration file reads as follows:

[server]
account = Disabled

SFTPPlus will then operate under the same OS account that is used to launch it.

Advantages:

  • Operating under the principle of least privilege.
  • Even if there are security bugs in SFTPPlus, a successful exploit will not have unprivileged access to OS resources.
  • On systemd-based Linux distributions and macOS, the unprivileged user can be assigned non-valid shell and home values such as /bin/false and /var/empty, respectively.

Disadvantages:

  • Using ports below 1024 requires OS-specific configuration.
  • OS accounts cannot be used for file transfer services.
  • On Alpine Linux and Linux distributions using the SysV init file such as Amazon Linux AMI 2018.03, the unprivileged user needs a valid shell and home.

2.4.6.2. Start as root and mostly operate as unprivileged account

This is only needed if you require to authenticate OS accounts in SFTPPlus.

To configure SFTPPlus to start as root, but to run under the dedicated application account, you have to edit the default-included unit, init, or service file to use root instead of sftpplus for launching SFTPPlus.

Then make sure the following option is present in the configuration/server.ini configuration file:

[server]
account = sftpplus

Advantages:

  • Binding to ports below 1024 works out of the box.
  • OS accounts can be used for file transfer services.
  • On Alpine Linux and Linux distributions using the SysV init file, for example Amazon Linux AMI 2018.03, the unprivileged user can be assigned non-valid shell and home values such as /bin/false and /var/empty, respectively.

Disadvantages:

  • Even though most of the time SFTPPlus will operate under the unprivileged account, for requests to authenticate an OS account SFTPPlus will briefly switch to running as root in order to perform the OS authentication. If there is a security bug in SFTPPlus, and that bug is exploited during the brief amount of time SFTPPlus runs as root, an attacker can theoretically gain privileged access to OS resources.

Note

You can also start SFTPPlus under the privileged root account and keep running the SFTPPlus process as root using account = Disabled in the server’s configuration file. For security reasons, we don’t recommend this mode of operation.

2.4.6.3. Running multiple concurrent instances on the same machine / VM

You can run multiple independent SFTPPlus instances on the same machine or VM to achieve one of the following requirements:

  • have separate testing and production systems
  • better CPU usage and high availability on multi CPU / multi disk systems
  • create a pre-production system which is hosted by the same VM as the production to allow easy rollback to older version

On systemd (modern Linux) and OpenRC init system this can be achieved by creating multiple service file with different names and setting specific configuration files per SFTPPlus instance.

Each instance must be configured with specific paths for log and cache files. For example, when using a production instance and a testing one, log/server-production.log and log/server-testing.log for the log handler’s file paths, and configuration/cache-production.db3 and configuration/cache-testing.db3 for the embedded database resource paths.

In addition, different instances must use different ports and/or IPs. For example, 10022 for the first instance’s SFTP port and 20022 for the second one, if using the same IP.

For SysV-based systems, we provide a simplified init script for running concurrent instances: bin/sftpplus-mft.sysv.instances.sh. Create copies as needed in your /etc/init.d/ sub-directory, then edit the $INSTANCE_ID variable for each instance. The init script assumes each instance is configured through a file named configuration/server-INSTANCE_ID.ini, where INSTANCE_ID should match the value set in the init script.

When running different versions of SFTPPlus concurrently on the same machine, each instance has a dedicated root directory, therefore the INSTALL_ROOT variable from the service/init files must be updated accordingly.