2.5. macOS Installation¶
For macOS systems, SFTPPlus is distributed as a gzipped TAR archive. Installing SFTPPlus consists of unpacking the archive, initializing the configuration, and generating the SSH keys and the SSL key and certificate to be used by the product.
The included default configuration requires the creation of a system account, named sftpplus, under which the SFTPPlus process is executed.
Optionally, you may choose to start SFTPPlus as root, but the sftpplus user is still required in order to drop privileges after starting up.
To have SFTPPlus launched at boot, you may use the included plist file.
After downloading the compressed archive, you can extract its files using the following command:
tar xfz sftpplus-os-arch-version.tar.gz
To install SFTPPlus, move (or copy/link) the unpacked directory to your
preferred installation path, for example:
SFTPPlus may be installed in any location on the local file system.
In this documentation page we assume that SFTPPlus is unpacked in the
/Library/sftpplus directory (we discuss INSTALL_ROOT more later).
When installing SFTPPlus on a machine for the first time, you need to generate the initial configuration file and machine-specific SSH keys. A self-signed SSL certificate will also be generated to help with the initial FTPS and HTTPS testing.
To initialize a fresh SFTPPlus installation, execute the following command (where $ADMIN should be replaced with your favourite administrative username and $PASS with a password to be used for the SFTPPlus $ADMIN user):
cd /Library/sftpplus ./bin/admin-commands.sh initialize --init-admin $ADMIN --init-password $PASS
Default configuration allows external connections to the management web page. Therefore, use a secure password to protect the management web page.
If you don't want to allow external connections to the Local Manager web-based console, append the --local-admin-access command line argument to the initialization command above:
./bin/admin-commands.sh initialize \ --local-admin-access \ --init-admin $ADMIN \ --init-password $PASS
The initialization step is not required when upgrading SFTPPlus. It will not overwrite the configuration file, SSH keys, and SSL keys and certificates, if existing. In the case that you want to generate a new configuration, manually remove the existing files first.
On macOS, SFTPPlus' process is managed by launchd.
The following are details for configuring the SFTPPlus account and group for macOS systems.
On macOS systems, SFTPPlus is able to drop privileges to a regular account even when launched as root. The default configuration takes this a step further, always running under a regular account, thus requiring a dedicated sftpplus operating system account to be created. Creating a dedicated new group and a new user for running SFTPPlus' process is therefore strongly recommended.
In the following examples we will use the default configuration value of sftpplus for the name of the user to run SFTPPlus.
To create an sftpplus group and a corresponding user on macOS, use the following commands.
You can replace the value of
299 from the below example commands with
a unique ID for your system.
On macOS, you can use dscacheutil -q user or dscacheutil -q group to
identify the used IDs and pick a unique ID.
The below commands are included into an easy to use script which is available as osx_useradd.sh:
# Create the group dedicated to the service account. sudo dscl . create /Groups/sftpplus # Assign an unique ID to the group. sudo dscl . create /Groups/sftpplus PrimaryGroupID 299 # Disable group password. sudo dscl . create /Groups/sftpplus Password '*' # Create a user for the service account. sudo dscl . create /Users/sftpplus # Assign a unique ID to the new user. sudo dscl . create /Users/sftpplus UniqueID 299 # Assign this account to the dedicated group. sudo dscl . create /Users/sftpplus PrimaryGroupID 299 # Disable shell access. sudo dscl . create /Users/sftpplus UserShell /usr/bin/false # Make sure it has a default empty home folder. sudo dscl . create /Users/sftpplus NFSHomeDirectory /var/empty # Disable password to block any authentication request. sudo dscl . create /Users/sftpplus Password '*' # Initialize blank password and authentication rules. sudo dscl . delete /Users/sftpplus PasswordPolicyOption sudo dscl . delete /Users/sftpplus AuthenticationAuthority
You need to adjust the ownership of the files, otherwise some of the functionality (logging and saving configuration changes) will not work:
cd /Library && chown -R root:staff sftpplus cd /Library/sftpplus && chown -R sftpplus configuration/ log/ run/
At the very least, SFTPPlus needs read access to all the files under /Library/sftpplus, but in a typical installation it also requires write permission to the log/ subdirectory (for logging) and the configuration/ subdirectory (for saving changes to the running configuration). If running at all times under an unprivileged account, write permissions to the run/ sub-directory holding the PID file are needed as well.
The next step is to configure your operating system to automatically start SFTPPlus on boot.
For macOS systems, you can use the example launchd job definition provided with SFTPPlus. The job definition file is formatted as XML, and it is called a property list file or 'plist'. Edit this file with your favourite editor, e.g. vi:
The sample job definition file assumes that SFTPPlus is installed in the /Library/sftpplus directory. Depending on where the job definition is stored, it will be treated as a daemon or an agent. In order to have SFTPPlus act as a global daemon, launching each time the macOS system starts, you need to copy it in the appropriate place:
cp bin/sftpplus-mft.plist /Library/LaunchDaemons/sftpplus.plist
After the file is copied, you need to instruct launchd to load/read the new job definition file using the command:
launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/sftpplus.plist
During startup, the launchd process will scan and automatically load job
definitions found in the
To stop SFTPPlus, use the following command:
launchctl unload /Library/LaunchDaemons/sftpplus.plist
In the case that there are problems starting the server, you can check
the log files at
You can read more about launchd on the official documentation page
When running SFTPPlus as a regular user, it's not possible to bind privileged ports in the range 0-1024.
One generic method which works on any Unix-like system is to set up SFTPPlus to listen on a port above 1024, then set up port-forwarding in your firewall configuration.
For example, to set up port-forwarding using pf, we can use the loopback interface to keep things simple. However, you should adapt and extend the exemplified firewall rules to account for your own local configuration: different network interfaces, IPs, and other network traffic rules.
Step-by-step instructions on how to forward port 122 to 10022:
Create a pf anchor file for sftpplus in /etc/pf.anchors/sftpplus with the following contents: rdr pass on lo0 inet proto tcp from any to 127.0.0.1 port = 122 -> 127.0.0.1 port 10022 (note the above 2 lines go into only one line, it has been split here for better readability) Reference anchor in /etc/pf.conf, add: rdr-anchor "sftpplus" load anchor "sftpplus" from "/etc/pf.anchors/sftpplus" Enable and reload pf manually: $ sudo pfctl -ef /etc/pf.conf Note: Updates to the OS may override the pf.conf file, make sure to make a backup of it.
In the case in which you know how to configure macOS to allow binding privileged ports without firewall redirection, please let us know and we will improve this documentation.
There is also an FAQ section if you have an idea, but are in search of answers.