FileZilla Server3: Basic Configuration 2

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Uniform Server 5-Nano
FileZilla FTPd (Server).

FileZilla Server basic set-up Aliases

This page looks at setting up Aliases on portable FileZilla. Although we are using portable mode the following are applicable to the static modes (standard program or service).

One advantage of portable operation it allows you to explore and test configurations, if you break anything just throw the servers away and start again.

Alias is a polite way of saying you are lying to a user. What they see displayed is not real, additional things happen behind the scenes.

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Root folders

For both Apache and FileZilla a root folder is nothing more than a starting point. All folders and files above this root folder are not visible. While all folders, sub-folders and files in the root folder are.

Apache refers to this as the web-root folder while FileZilla refers to it as the home folder. Interestingly they both use the same symbol "/" to refer to root.

On the previous page FileZilla's user root (home) was mapped to folder C:\UniServer\www intentionally this corresponds with the Apache root mapping and allows a comparison of user addressees.

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Addresses

A user wishing to view information on the Internet typically types the following address into a browser.

(what type of server to talk to)(where to find the server)(where to find what to serve )(what to serve)

A server is interested in the last two parts if these are not supplied, root is assumed and something appropriate is served.

The following table shows what a user would type into a browser to access a page named test.html

(what type of server to talk to) (where to find the server) (where to find what to serve) (what to serve)
http:// localhost / test.html
ftp:// localhost / test.html

where to find what to serve is important to the server because it needs to know where on a hard-drive or other media to find the information to serve.

A user provides the path "/" our server translates this to C:\UniServer\www

"/" is an alias to location C:\UniServer\www - Whats important a user sees only what's in that folder.

We known this folder contains real files and two real folders css and images to access these folders a user could type one of the following addresses into a browser:

  • ftp://localhost/ - Displays links to sub-folders (css and images) as shown below
  • ftp://localhost/css/ - Provides direct access into folder
  • ftp://localhost/images/ - Provides direct access into folder

The first forward slash indicates root, all other forward slashes indicate its a folder and not a file.

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Server's point of view

Server's point of view - for this address: ftp://localhost/images/

A server sees the first forward slash and knows it should start looking in the root folder located at C:\UniServer\www

Next part of the address is a folder named images/ the server asks a fundamental question is this a real folder if so display its content. If the folder is an alias locate the folder it points to and display that content.

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Alias

The above sentence is important it highlights a folder may not be a real folder at that location, however to a user it looks real because its visible.

An alias folder consists of two parts the name which is visible to a user and a full path to the real folder its this content that becomes visible to a user.

An alias name can be mapped to any folder on any hard-drive or other media.

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Alias Practical Example

The following examples restrict paths to our portable server, purly for exploring and testing. In the real world you can map any folder on any drive.

I started the page with "Alias is a polite way of saying you are lying to a user" To highlight this we will create three folders mp3, videos and films and serve the appropriate content from Uniform Server's folders.

Mapping

Mapping as follows:

  • Map folder name mp3 to folder C:\UniServer\docs
  • Map folder name videos to folder C:\UniServer\usr
  • Map folder name films to folder C:\UniServer\home

That's right we are lying there is no appropriate content to serve.

User FTP access and mapping

The following attempts to show the overall picture. How root folders fit with aliases, which map to absolute paths.

A user could access the
above folders using the
following addresses:

Remember a server is
interested in only the
last two parts giving:

A server starts in the
root folder / expending
this gives:

Folders are not real they are aliases hence
server uses path defined for alias to locate
the real folder and serves that folders content.

  • ftp://localhost/mp3
  • ftp://localhost/videos
  • ftp://localhost/films
  • /mp3
  • /videos
  • /films
  • C:\UniServer\www\mp3
  • C:\UniServer\www\videos
  • C:\UniServer\www\films
>>   C:\UniServer\docs
>>   C:\UniServer\usr
>>   C:\UniServer\home;

Alias folders are what you want a user to see they have no content.
An alias maps to a real folder defined by the absolute path associated with it.
Its this folders content that is displayed to a user or accessed by a user.

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Common folder mapping

Although we have mapped single folders into a users root folder these can equaliy be mapped to a single common folder.

Suppose we wish to display a folder named "all" in the root containing our three alias folders mp3, videos and films.

FileZilla needs to map aliases to real folders hence create a new folder all in the root folder www.

Our alias folders
currently look 
like this:

  • /mp3
  • /videos
  • /films

All that is required is to create paths
that match our requirement. In the root
folder we have a new folder named all
this contains three sub-folders hence
our alias folders now look like this:

  • /all/mp3
  • /all/videos
  • /all/films

Our new alias folders
still map to the same
real folders as shown:

  • C:\UniServer\docs
  • C:\UniServer\usr
  • C:\UniServer\home

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FileZilla configuration

We now have two examples to play with. There is no need to create a new user we already have a user fred (from part 1) and have set his root folder to Y:\www hence most of the work has been done.

Note: My server is now running on drive Y the FileZila configuration file was automatically updated to take into account the drive letter change.

Start servers and Zilla Admin

  1. Navigate to folder UniServer
  2. Start UniForm Server – Double click on Server_Start.bat - Note the virtual drive created (Normally Z).
  3. Start FileZilla server – Double click on fz_start.bat
  4. Double click on file fz_admin.bat
  5. A pop-up (Connect to server) is displayed, click OK - Starts admin window.
  6. From admin select Edit > Users

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Add shared folders

  1. Select page Shared folders - Selected by default A)
  2. Select user - Selected by default single user B)
  3. Under shared folders click Add C)
  4. In the pop-up navigate to folder C:\UniServer\home click to highlight click OK.
    Note: Your virtual drive letter may differ
  5. Select file privileges you wish to allow D)
  6. Select directory privileges you wish to allow E)

Notes:

Repeat steps 9 to 12 for the remaining folders C:\UniServer\docs and C:\UniServer\usr substitute the appropriate folder at step 10 result as shown on the right.

UC5 Zilla alias 1.gif

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Add alias folders

  1. To the extreme right of folder C:\UniServer\docs double click - F1)
  2. In the pop-up enter the alias name /mp3 - G
  3. Click OK closes the pop-up - H)

Repeat steps 13 to 15 for the remaining folders C:|UniServer\home and C:\UniServer\usr adding the appropriate alias folder.

Finally click OK - Bottom left.

Note: At step 13 instead of double clicking an alternative is to right click on the folder (directory) name, choose Edit Aliases from the pop-up menu.

UC5 Zilla alias 2.gif

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Quick Test

Type the following into your browser:

ftp://localhost/ a pop-up is displayed enter name (fred) and password (fred123).

A page is displayed showing files and folders contained in your shared folder (www).

You will see three new folders mp3, videos and films check their contents.

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Modify alias folders

Our last example was to place the three alias folders into a single folder named all.

Edit the aliases as follows:

  1. From Zilla admin select Edit > Users
  2. Select page Shared folders
  3. Double click on each alias folder. At each pop-up insert new folder all as shown:
     /all/mp3
     /all/videos
     /all/films

Click OK - bottom left.

Test modified folders

Test as above, this time you will see a folder all containing mp3, videos and films.

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Summary

Setting up an alias is relatively easy the above examples allow you to explore this area on a portable server. If you make a mistake and the servers become irreparable, well just delete them and start again.

The examples covered so far have a real problem and that is one of security. Passwords and data are sent unencrypted the next page covers a secure FTP server.

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