Configuring a <Directory>


Use of the <Directory> configuration directive is, in general, straightforward. However, there are a few caveats of which to be aware.

First, it is not necessary to nest <Directory> sections, like:

  <Directory /path/to/dir>
    <Directory /path/to/dir/subdir>
      ...
    </Directory>
  </Directory>
The daemon will not let one do this, in fact. The daemon will determine automatically the relations of <Directory> paths, depending on the path given and surrounding configuration context.

Always use the normal, absolute path for a <Directory> section, regardless of whether that directory will eventually be accessed during a session which has been chroot'd, as for <Anonymous> or DefaultRooted sessions. There are two allowed exceptions to the rule of using absolute paths: if the path has a ~ prefix, or if the <Directory> occurs within a <Anonymous> section. In the latter case, the path may be relative (i.e. does not need to start with a /), in which case the path will be relative to the directory to which anonymous sessions are restricted.

If the name of the directory contains spaces, you should enclose the entire directory name in quotations, e.g.:

  <Directory "/path/to/My Directory">

Any configuration directives in a <Directory> section will apply to that directory and to all of the contents of that directory recursively. Thus if you use:

  <Directory /path/to/dir>
    Umask 022
  </Directory>
Then that Umask value will be used within the "/path/to/dir/subdir/" directory as well.

As noted in the documentation, use of a /* suffix on a path will change the effect of a <Directory> section slightly. For example:

  <Directory /path/to/dir>
applies the section's configuration directives to the dir directory and its contents, while:
  <Directory /path/to/dir/*>
applies the section's configuration directives only to the contents of dir, not to the directory itself. This is a small distinction, but it can often cause misconfigurations. In general, unless you know what you're doing, it's best not to use a /* suffix.

Also, a * within a path, such as:

  <Directory /path/to/*/dir> 
will only match that single directory level, and will not match multiple directory levels. This means that the above <Directory> will match:
  /path/to/a/dir
  /path/to/b/dir
because * will match the a/ and b/, as they are on the same level in the path as *. However, the following paths will not match:
  /path/to/some/other/dir
  /path/to/some/other/level/dir
since * does not expand to some/other/ or /some/other/level/; they cover multiple levels.

There is another case about which the administrator should know: for the purposes of handling the APPE, RETR, RNTO, STOR, and STOU FTP commands, the daemon will match a <Directory> path with the filename appended. As above, in most cases this will not matter much. However, consider the case where the administrator specifically wants to use the trailing /*, as when she wants a particular <Limit> to apply to all subdirectories of a given directory, but not to that directory itself. For example, the administrators wishes to block anonymous uploads everywhere except for subdirectories of upload/:

  <Anonymous ~ftp>
    User ftp
    Group ftp

    UserAlias anonymous ftp

    <Limit WRITE>
      DenyAll
    </Limit>

    <Directory upload/*>
      <Limit STOR>
        AllowAll
      </Limit>
    </Directory>
  </Anonymous>
This configuration looks like it should work, allowing files to be uploaded only to subdirectories of upload/, but not to the upload/ directory itself. As described above, though, the daemon will append the filename being uploaded via STOR to the path used when looking up <Directory>, meaning that upload/filename will match upload/*, and allow files to be uploaded into upload/. In this particular case, then, what is wanted is to use this <Directory> pattern:
    <Directory upload/*/*>
      <Limit STOR>
        AllowAll
      </Limit>
    </Directory>
which will achieve the desired effect of allowing uploads only in subdirectories of the given directory, upload/.

Also, it is good to keep in mind the similarity between a <Directory> section and a .ftpaccess file. In some cases, using .ftpaccess files might be more convenient. The AllowOverride configuration directive (which first appeared in the 1.2.7rc1 release) will provide fine-grained control over when .ftpaccess files will be honored.

The fact that <Directory> sections can be used to refer to specific files, in addition to directories, is not obvious. However, there are some cases where it can be useful to use this feature. One proftpd user used this feature in the following way: the DirFakeMode was used to make all files look read-only (mostly so that FTP mirroring tools would create a read-only mirror of the site). However, a particular file on the site needed have execute permissions, even in the FTP mirrored site. A <Directorygt; section was used just for this one file, e.g.:

  # Make all files look read-only to clients, regardless of the actual
  # permissions on the filesystem
  DirFakeMode 0444

  <Anonymous /var/ftpd>

    # However, for this script, we need it to look like it is executable, too
    <Directory /var/ftpd/bin/script>
      DirFakeMode 0555
    </Directory>

  </Anonymous>

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What happens if I configure two <Directory> sections for the exact same path?
Answer: If you use explicit paths, then the config parser will choke on the duplicate <Directory> sections. For example, if you tried:

  <Directory /path/to/dir>
    <Limit ALL>
      DenyAll
    </Limit>
  </Directory>

  <Directory /path/to/dir>
    <Limit ALL>
      AllowAll
    </Limit>

    <Limit WRITE>
      DenyAll
    </Limit>
  </Directory>
When starting proftpd, you would see something like:
 - Fatal: :  section already configured for '/path/to/dir' on line 39 of '/etc/ftpd/proftpd.conf'

But what if you have the two <Directory> sections, but one of the sections uses a wildcard character which would still match the same path? For example:

  <Directory /path/to/dir>
    <Limit ALL>
      DenyAll
    </Limit>
  </Directory>

  <Directory /path/*/dir>
    <Limit ALL>
      AllowAll
    </Limit>

    <Limit WRITE>
      DenyAll
    </Limit>
  </Directory>
This time, the config parser would not choke; proftpd would start up normally. When it came time to look up the <Directory> section to use, e.g. for uploading to "/path/to/dir/test.txt", the matching <Directory> section which appears later in the config file wins. In the above example, the upload to "/path/to/dir/test.txt" would be denied (because the wildcard-using <Directory> section appears later, and it has a <Limit WRITE> section denying writes).

However, if you simply reversed the order of the above <Directory> sections and tried to upload to "/path/to/subdir/test.txt", e.g.:

  <Directory /path/*/dir>
    <Limit ALL>
      AllowAll
    </Limit>

    <Limit WRITE>
      DenyAll
    </Limit>
  </Directory>

  <Directory /path/to/dir>
    <Limit ALL>
      DenyAll
    </Limit>
  </Directory>
the upload would succeed, since the non-wildcard-using <Directory> section appeared later in the config.

Question: How can I prevent a specific directory from being renamed? I am currently trying:

  <Directory /dir/*>
    <Limit CWD XCWD RNFR RNTO>
      AllowAll
    </Limit>

    <Limit ALL>
      DenyAll
    </Limit>
  </Directory>

  <Directory /dir/subdir>
    <Limit WRITE>
      DenyAll
    </Limit>
  </Directory>
to keep "/dir/subdir" from being renamed, but it doesn't work!
Answer: The trick is to block the RNFR command within the <Directory> section for that specific directory, i.e.:
  <Directory /dir/subdir>
    <Limit RNFR WRITE>
      DenyAll
    </Limit>
  </Directory>

The reason the original config did not work as expected is that proftpd, when handling the RNTO command (e.g. "RNTO subdir2"), would not match the <Directory /dir/subdir> section for the path "/dir/subdir2", but instead matches the <Directory /dir/*> section.

Renaming of files via FTP is done by first sending the RNFR command (for the old filename), then sending RNFTO (with the new filename). By placing RNFR in the <Directory /dir/subdir> section's <Limit> list, we make sure that the RNFR does match the <Directory /dir/subdir> section, and is thus denied.


Last Updated: $Date: 2010/01/05 17:00:21 $