FileZilla ftp client

Transport Manager

Article from Issue 91/2008
Author(s):

High-performance GUI-based ftp clients for Linux are hard to find. The graphical FileZilla ftp client closes the gap.

Although the name might lead you to think otherwise, FileZilla has nothing in common with the Mozilla project. The FileZilla project, which was launched in 2001 by Tim Kosse [1], was the SourceForge "Project of the Month" [2] in November 2003. In version 3, the developers have recoded the ftp client, which was originally released for Windows only, and ported the results to Linux and Mac OS X [3].

Besides a neat GUI, the GPL2-licensed ftp client includes features that put some commercial competitors to shame. Proxy support is included, as is support for encrypted protocols, such as FTPS, FTPES, or SSH File Transfer Protocol. A file and directory filter make sure that you only see what you are looking for. The program includes a download limiter, which lets you restrict the number of uploads and downloads and the maximum transfer speed.

Installation

FileZilla has made its way into the repositories of all the major distributions and can be installed by your distro's native package manager. Ubuntu users will need to enable the Universe repository, which only has the 3.0.0 through 3.0.1 versions, compared with the current 3.0.7. Because versions above 3.0.5 include various new features that I will be referring to in this article, it makes more sense to download the generic, pre-built package from the project homepage [3].

After the download, copy the tarball to the /opt folder and unpack at the command line with the command:

tar xfvj FileZilla_3.0.7_i586-linux-gnu.tar.bz2

Clicking on /opt/FileZilla3/bin/filezilla launches the program. When first launched, the application creates a .filezilla folder below its home directory, which is where the configuration files are stored.

Configuration

The first settings are configured with the assistance of the network configuration wizard, which you can launch by clicking the item in the Edit menu. The wizard guides you step by step through the network configuration and provides a detailed description for each item you are prompted to configure.

Settings that relate to the client connection, transfer, or view are accessed via the Settings dialog, which you can access via the Edit | Settings menu. Connection lets you specify whether the client should use active or passive ftp to contact the server [4]. The Active mode and Passive mode items let you set up the details.

The input dialog for proxy support configuration appears by clicking FTP Proxy. To avoid consuming all the available bandwidth, you can restrict the upload or download speed in the Transfers dialog. The Threshold item lets you specify whether FileZilla should apply these restrictions strictly or less so. The speed limit applies to the sum total of current downloads. Simultaneous transmissions share the bandwidth you specify. The Concurrent transfers area lets you set the number of simultaneous transfers the program will allow (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The Transfers selection allows you to restrict download and upload speeds.

Also, you can configure the View to suit your own taste. In File and Directory View:, the options are Explorer, Classic, Widescreen, and Billboard. Because the program applies the changes immediately, you can watch the program window to decide whether you like the new view. The Designs category gives you the option of changing the widget sets, but not the window layouts.

Edit remote file takes you to the settings for the new feature added in version 3.0.5 that lets you edit text files on the ftp server just like local files. To use this feature, just enter the path to your Default editor:.

Site Manager

FileZilla has multiple options for connecting to a server. For example, it has a quick connection below the menu icons, much like the address bar in a web browser. To use the quick connection feature, just fill out the fields and click Connect. The server stores a history of the sites you visit, and you can click the down arrow next to the Connect button to access them. As of this writing, the program does not have a feature for opening a server directly in the Site Manager.

The Site Manager works like the bookmarks in a web browser but has far more functionality. Clicking the Opens the site manager icon on the far left of the menu bar launches the Site Manager. Clicking the New Folder button lets you organize sites in directories that you create. To bookmark a server, first click the directory where you want it to appear, and then click New Site. Because you cannot shift entries around between folders, it makes sense to create a meaningful directory structure before you start creating entries.

Clicking on a server listed in the right window panel opens the corresponding settings. In the General tab, enter the connection data and server type (ftp, SSH File Transfer Protocol, etc.). The Advanced tab lets you specify standard directories for the client to use locally and remotely after logging on (Figure 2). The Transfer settings tab lets you decide whether to use active or passive ftp [4]. After completing an entry, you can just double-click to open a connection.

Figure 2: The Advanced tab lets you specify directories.

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