Linux Commands Examples

A great documentation place for Linux commands


secure file transfer program

see also : ftp - ls - scp - ssh - ssh-add - ssh-keygen


sftp [-1246Cpqrv] [-B buffer_size] [-b batchfile] [-c cipher] [-D sftp_server_path] [-F ssh_config] [-i identity_file] [-l limit] [-o ssh_option] [-P port] [-R num_requests] [-S program] [-s subsystem sftp_server] host

user@ ]host[:file ...]

sftp [

user@ ]host[
:dir[/] ]

sftp -b batchfile [

user@ ]host

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Using sftp without mounting it

You might consider working over an ssh connection, directly editing on the target servers.

Or copying the files locally, and then pushing them back when they've been updated appropriately.

sftp kevin@

How do I get an entire directory in sftp?


scp -r mpirocch@my-server:/home/mpirocch/Documents Documents

Best way to transfer files across unstable LAN?

while ! rsync \
  --bwlimit <KB/s value> \
  -rP \
  /path/to/directory_that_contain_the_data_to_be_transferred \ ; \
  do sleep 90;

taken from

You'd want to put this in a bash shell script. something like the following


while ! rsync \
  --bwlimit <KB/s value> \
  -rP \
  /path/to/directory_that_contain_the_data_to_be_transferred \; \
  do sleep 90;

you need to setup ssh keys which is another question if you don't know how to do that but it's basically:

ssh-keygen -t rsa

that will create your public/private key pair. Copy your public key to the destination machine so you don't have to use password credentials each time the connection drops.


Must I sftp to an intermediate server?

I'm assuming the final host is firewalled and I can only guess at methods you could use to go around it.

For example - expose ssh from your local machine, then ssh to the first host, then ssh to the second and sftp from the final host to your machine.


How can I setup the openSSH SFTP server on Linux?

You need make sure /home/ftp is owned by root and that group and others don't have write permissions, e.g. chmod 0755. You need to add sub-directories for ftp to add files in.

You also need the internal-sftp subsystem, otherwise you need to provide a proper chroot environment in /home/ftp:

Subsystem sftp internal-sftp

To disallow all non-password kinds of login, enter

ChallengeResponseAuthentication no
GSSAPIAuthentication no
PubkeyAuthentication no

These are activated by default.


How can I see if users are logged in over sftp?

I think you can use the command line program who to see this. I have noticed some reports that doing so doesn't work, but I still think it may work (maybe it's an ssh setting).

sftp is built on top of SSH. It stands for the "SSH File Transfer Protocol". And when you're logged in over ssh, 'who' will include you as a logged in user with its output. So I'd expect this to work with active sftp sessions too.

This discussion from 2008 also suggests that you may use 'netstat' for this. It also includes a suggestion to run 'who' via 'watch' so you can see updates without doing anything.


sftp disabled, but have ssh access. How to mount?

What about SCP?


sftp://domainnaame.tld shows whole filesystem

As it should. SFTP functions over SSH, so you should be able see any file that the user you logged in as has read access to. Even if you did chroot SFTP, the user could just log in using SSH instead and read the file.

and anybody can download any file

Incorrect; Anybody with a user account on the system can download any file that their user has permission to read.

SFTP doesn't have anonymous access in the same way FTP does, and any actions taken can always be tied back to a specific user registered on your system. If you want to secure your system, use strong passwords, limit IP ranges that can connect over SSH, watch for failed login attempts, etc.


why is sftp rmdir not working?

In my experience, rmdir prefers to work on an empty directory. If you're trying to delete the directory foo, I would do:

$rm foo/*
$rmdir foo

FTP shortcuts to another folder

You can make a link to the other folder

ln -s /home/primary/webapps/application /home/secondary/application

This will create a link under /home/secondary called "application" which points to /home/primary/webapps/application. Once logged in to his home folder, he simply has to click on the "application" folder and will be directed to the proper location.


sftp is an interactive file transfer program, similar to ftp(1), which performs all operations over an encrypted ssh(1) transport. It may also use many features of ssh, such as public key authentication and compression. sftp connects and logs into the specified host, then enters an interactive command mode.

The second usage format will retrieve files automatically if a non-interactive authentication method is used; otherwise it will do so after successful interactive authentication.

The third usage format allows sftp to start in a remote directory.

The final usage format allows for automated sessions using the -b option. In such cases, it is necessary to configure non-interactive authentication to obviate the need to enter a password at connection time (see sshd(8) and ssh-keygen(1) for details).

Since some usage formats use colon characters to delimit host names from path names, IPv6 addresses must be enclosed in square brackets to avoid ambiguity.

The options are as follows:


Specify the use of protocol version 1.


Specify the use of protocol version 2.


Forces sftp to use IPv4 addresses only.


Forces sftp to use IPv6 addresses only.

-B buffer_size

Specify the size of the buffer that sftp uses when transferring files. Larger buffers require fewer round trips at the cost of higher memory consumption. The default is 32768 bytes.

-b batchfile

Batch mode reads a series of commands from an input batchfile instead of stdin. Since it lacks user interaction it should be used in conjunction with non-interactive authentication. A batchfile of ’-’ may be used to indicate standard input. sftp will abort if any of the following commands fail: get, put, rename, ln, rm, mkdir, chdir, ls, lchdir, chmod, chown, chgrp, lpwd, df, symlink, and lmkdir. Termination on error can be suppressed on a command by command basis by prefixing the command with a ’-’ character (for example, -rm /tmp/blah*).


Enables compression (via ssh’s -C flag).

-c cipher

Selects the cipher to use for encrypting the data transfers. This option is directly passed to ssh(1).

-D sftp_server_path

Connect directly to a local sftp server (rather than via ssh(1)). This option may be useful in debugging the client and server.

-F ssh_config

Specifies an alternative per-user configuration file for ssh(1). This option is directly passed to ssh(1).

-i identity_file

Selects the file from which the identity (private key) for public key authentication is read. This option is directly passed to ssh(1).

-l limit

Limits the used bandwidth, specified in Kbit/s.

-o ssh_option

Can be used to pass options to ssh in the format used in ssh_config(5). This is useful for specifying options for which there is no separate sftp command-line flag. For example, to specify an alternate port use: sftp -oPort=24. For full details of the options listed below, and their possible values, see ssh_config(5).


-P port

Specifies the port to connect to on the remote host.


Preserves modification times, access times, and modes from the original files transferred.


Quiet mode: disables the progress meter as well as warning and diagnostic messages from ssh(1).

-R num_requests

Specify how many requests may be outstanding at any one time. Increasing this may slightly improve file transfer speed but will increase memory usage. The default is 64 outstanding requests.


Recursively copy entire directories when uploading and downloading. Note that sftp does not follow symbolic links encountered in the tree traversal.

-S program

Name of the program to use for the encrypted connection. The program must understand ssh(1) options.

-s subsystem | sftp_server

Specifies the SSH2 subsystem or the path for an sftp server on the remote host. A path is useful for using sftp over protocol version 1, or when the remote sshd(8) does not have an sftp subsystem configured.


Raise logging level. This option is also passed to ssh.

interactive commands

Once in interactive mode, sftp understands a set of commands similar to those of ftp(1). Commands are case insensitive. Pathnames that contain spaces must be enclosed in quotes. Any special characters contained within pathnames that are recognized by glob(3) must be escaped with backslashes (’\’).


Quit sftp.

cd path

Change remote directory to path.

chgrp grp path

Change group of file path to grp. path may contain glob(3) characters and may match multiple files. grp must be a numeric GID.

chmod mode path

Change permissions of file path to mode. path may contain glob(3) characters and may match multiple files.

chown own path

Change owner of file path to own. path may contain glob(3) characters and may match multiple files. own must be a numeric UID.

df [-hi] [path]

Display usage information for the filesystem holding the current directory (or path if specified). If the -h flag is specified, the capacity information will be displayed using "human-readable" suffixes. The -i flag requests display of inode information in addition to capacity information. This command is only supported on servers that implement the ’’statvfs[:at:]openssh[:dot:]com’’ extension.


Quit sftp.

get [-Ppr] remote-path [local-path]

Retrieve the remote-path and store it on the local machine. If the local path name is not specified, it is given the same name it has on the remote machine. remote-path may contain glob(3) characters and may match multiple files. If it does and local-path is specified, then local-path must specify a directory.

If either the -P or -p flag is specified, then full file permissions and access times are copied too.

If the -r flag is specified then directories will be copied recursively. Note that sftp does not follow symbolic links when performing recursive transfers.


Display help text.

lcd path

Change local directory to path.

lls [ls-options [path]]

Display local directory listing of either path or current directory if path is not specified. ls-options may contain any flags supported by the local system’s ls(1) command. path may contain glob(3) characters and may match multiple files.

lmkdir path

Create local directory specified by path.

ln [-s] oldpath newpath

Create a link from oldpath to newpath. If the -s flag is specified the created link is a symbolic link, otherwise it is a hard link.


Print local working directory.

ls [-1afhlnrSt] [path]

Display a remote directory listing of either path or the current directory if path is not specified. path may contain glob(3) characters and may match multiple files.

The following flags are recognized and alter the behaviour of ls accordingly:


Produce single columnar output.


List files beginning with a dot (’.’).


Do not sort the listing. The default sort order is lexicographical.


When used with a long format option, use unit suffixes: Byte, Kilobyte, Megabyte, Gigabyte, Terabyte, Petabyte, and Exabyte in order to reduce the number of digits to four or fewer using powers of 2 for sizes (K=1024, M=1048576, etc.).


Display additional details including permissions and ownership information.


Produce a long listing with user and group information presented numerically.


Reverse the sort order of the listing.


Sort the listing by file size.


Sort the listing by last modification time.

lumask umask

Set local umask to umask.

mkdir path

Create remote directory specified by path.


Toggle display of progress meter.

put [-Ppr] local-path [remote-path]

Upload local-path and store it on the remote machine. If the remote path name is not specified, it is given the same name it has on the local machine. local-path may contain glob(3) characters and may match multiple files. If it does and remote-path is specified, then remote-path must specify a directory.

If either the -P or -p flag is specified, then full file permissions and access times are copied too.

If the -r flag is specified then directories will be copied recursively. Note that sftp does not follow symbolic links when performing recursive transfers.


Display remote working directory.


Quit sftp.

rename oldpath newpath

Rename remote file from oldpath to newpath.

rm path

Delete remote file specified by path.

rmdir path

Remove remote directory specified by path.

symlink oldpath newpath

Create a symbolic link from oldpath to newpath.


Display the sftp protocol version.


Execute command in local shell.


Escape to local shell.


Synonym for help.

see also

ftp , ls , scp , ssh , ssh-add , ssh-keygen , glob, ssh_config, sftp-server, sshd

T. Ylonen


S. Lehtinen ,
SSH File Transfer Protocol
draft-ietf-secsh-filexfer-00.txt ,
January 2001 ,
work in progress material .

BSD July 18, 2013 BSD

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