ProFTPD module mod_log

This module is contained in the mod_log.c file for ProFTPD 1.3.x, and is compiled by default.



Syntax: AllowLogSymlinks on|off
Default: None
Context: server config, <VirtualHost>, <Global>
Module: mod_log
Compatibility: 1.2.2rc2 and later

By default, the server will the path of any configured SystemLog, any configured TransferLogs, and any configured ExtendedLogs to see if they are symbolic links. If the paths are symbolic links, proftpd will refuse to log to that link unless explicitly configured to do so via this AllowLogSymlinks directive.

Security Note: This behaviour should not be allowed unless for a very good reason. By allowing the server to open symbolic links with its root privileges, you are allowing a potential symlink attack where the server could be tricked into overwriting arbitrary system files. You have been warned.


Syntax: ExtendedLog path [cmd-classes [format-name]]
Default: None
Context: server config, <VirtualHost>, <Global>, <Anonymous>
Module: mod_log
Compatibility: 1.1.6p11 and later

The ExtendedLog directive allows customizable logfiles to be generated, either globally or per <VirtualHost>. The path argument should contain an absolute pathname to a logfile which will be appended to when proftpd starts; the pathname should not be to a file in a nonexistent directory, to a world-writable directory, or be a symbolic link (unless AllowLogSymlinks is set to on). Multiple logfiles, potentially with different command classes and formats) can be created. Optionally, the cmd-classes parameter can be used to control which types of commands are logged. If no command classes are specified, proftpd logs all commands by default. Note that passwords are hidden. If used, the cmd-classes parameter is a comma-delimited (with no whitespace) list of which commands to log.

In proftpd-1.2.8rc1 and later, the path argument can be of the form "syslog:level". The "syslog:" prefix configures mod_log to write the ExtendedLog data to syslog rather than to a file. The level configures the syslog level at which to log the data. For example:

  ExtendedLog syslog:info ALL default

This table shows the supported command classes:

Command Class FTP Commands
ALL All commands except the EXIT pseudo-command (default)
NONE No commands
AUTH Authentication commands: ACCT, PASS, REIN, USER
INFO Informational commands: FEAT, HELP, MDTM, QUIT, PWD, STAT, SIZE, SYST, XPWD
READ File reading: RETR
WRITE File/directory writing or creation: APPE, MFF, MFMT, MKD, RMD, RNFR, RNTO, STOR, STOU, XMKD, XRMD
SEC RFC2228-related security FTP commands: AUTH, CCC, PBSZ, PROT. Note: this class also includes SSH key exchange commands.
EXIT Logs the configured LogFormat at session exit.
NOTE: EXIT is not part of the ALL command class, in order to preserve backward-compatible ALL behavior.

If a format-name parameter is used, ExtendedLog will use the named LogFormat. Otherwise, the default format of "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %s %b" is used.

For example, to log all read and write operations to /var/log/ftp.log using the default format, use:

  ExtendedLog /var/log/ftp.log READ,WRITE
and to log all read and write operations to /var/log/ftp.log using your own LogFormat named "custom", use:
  LogFormat custom ...
  ExtendedLog /var/log/ftp.log READ,WRITE custom

See also: AllowLogSymlinks, LogFormat, TransferLog


Syntax: LogFormat format-name format-string
Default: LogFormat default "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %s %b"
Context: server config, <Global>
Module: mod_log
Compatibility: 1.1.6p11 and later

The LogFormat directive can be used to create a custom logging format for use with the ExtendedLog directive. Once created, the format can be referenced by the specified format-name. The format-string parameter can consist of any combination of letters, numbers and symbols. The special character '%' is used to start a meta sequence/variable (see below). To insert a literal '%' character, use "%%".

The default LogFormat is:

  "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %s %b"
which produces log entries in the Common Log Format.

The following meta sequences/variables are available and are replaced as indicated when logging.

Variable Value
 %a  Remote client IP address
 %A  Anonymous login password, or "UNKNOWN" for regular logins
 %{basename}  Last component of path, i.e. just the file or directory name.
 %b  Number of bytes sent for this command
 %c  Client connection class, or "-" if undefined
 %d  Directory name (not full path) for: CDUP, CWD, LIST, MLSD, MKD, NLST, RMD, XCWD, XCUP, XMKD, XRMD
 %D  Directory path (full path) for: CDUP, CWD, LIST, MLSD, MKD, NLST, RMD, XCWD, XCUP, XMKD, XRMD
 %E  End-of-session reason
 %{epoch}  Unix epoch; seconds since January 1, 1970
 %{NAME}e  Contents of environment variable NAME
 %f  Absolute path of the filename stored or retrieved (not chrooted)
 %F  Filename stored or retrieved, as the client sees it
 %{file-modified}  Indicates whether a file is modified (i.e. already exists): "true" or "false"
 %{file-size}  Indicates the file size after data transfer, or "-" if not applicable
 %{gid}  GID of authenticated user
 %g  Primary group of authenticated user
 %h  Remote client DNS name
 %H  Local IP address of vhost/server hosting/handling the session
 %I  Total number of "raw" bytes read in from network
 %{iso8601}  shorthand form of %{%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S}t,%{millisecs}, e.g. "2013-01-30 20:14:05,670"
 %J  Command arguments received from client, e.g. "file.txt"
 %l  Remote username (from identd), or "UNKNOWN" if IdentLookup failed
 %L  Local IP address contacted by client
 %m  Command (method) name received from client, e.g. RETR
 %{microsecs}  6 digit value of the microseconds of the current time
 %{millisecs}  3 digit value of the milliseconds of the current time
 %O  Total number of "raw" bytes written out to network
 %p  Local port
 %P  Local server process ID (pid)
 %{protocol}  Current protocol: "ftp", "ftps", "ssh2", "sftp", "scp"
 %r  Full command received from client
 %R  Response time, in milliseconds
 %{remote-port}  Remote client port
 %s  Numeric FTP response code (status); see RFC 959 Section 4.2.1
 %S  Response message sent to client (available since 1.3.1rc1)
 %t  Current local time
 %{format}t  Current local time using strftime(3) format
 %T  Time taken to transfer file, in seconds
 %{transfer-failure}  Reason for data transfer failure (if applicable), or "-"
 %{transfer-millisecs}  Time taken to transfer file, in milliseconds
 %{transfer-port}  Remote port used for data transfer
 %{transfer-speed}%nbsp; Data transfer speed, in KB/s
 %{transfer-status}  Status of data transfer: "success", "failed", "cancelled", "timeout", or "-"
 %{transfer-type}  Data transfer type: "binary" or "ASCII" (if applicable), or "-"
 %u  Authenticated local username
 %U  USER name originally sent by client
 %{uid}  UID of authenticated user
 %v  Local server ServerName
 %V  Local server DNS name
 %{version}  ProFTPD version
 %w  Absolute path for the RNFR path ("whence" a rename comes)

See also: ExtendedLog, TransferLog


Syntax: LogOptions opt1 ... optN
Default: None
Context: server config, <VirtualHost>, <Global>
Module: mod_core
Compatibility: 1.3.7rc4 and later

The LogOptions directive can be used to change the format of the SystemLog messages, e.g. adding/remove certain fields of data. These options also apply to all module logging; ProFTPD logging is centralized, and the LogOptions are applied to any/all logging.

The options supported by the LogOptions directive are:

All of these options are enabled by default, except for the RoleBasedProcessLabels option.

To enable an option, preface the option name with a '+' (plus) character; to disable the option, use a '-' (minus) character prefix. For example:

  # Log messages without timestamps or hostname
  LogOptions -Hostname -Timestamp

The RoleBasedProcessLabels option changes the label just for the PID, from e.g.:

to one of the following, depending on whether the process is the master daemon process, or a forked session process:
This is useful, for example, when relying on systemd logging:
  LogOptions -Timestamp -Hostname +RoleBasedProcessLabels


Syntax: ServerLog path|"none"
Default: None
Context: server config, <VirtualHost>, <Global>
Module: mod_log
Compatibility: 1.2.8rc1 and later

The ServerLog directive is used to configure a <VirtualHost>-specific logfile at the given path, rather than a single SystemLog for the entire configuration.

A path value of "none" will disable file logging for that vhost; this can be used to override a global ServerLog setting.


Syntax: SystemLog path|"none"
Default: None
Context: server config, <Global>
Module: mod_log
Compatibility: 1.1.6p11 and later

The SystemLog directive disables ProFTPD's use of the syslog mechanism and instead redirects all logging output to the specified path. The path should contain an absolute path, and should not be to a file in a nonexistent directory, in a world-writable directory, or be a symbolic link (unless AllowLogSymlinks is set to on).

Use of this directive overrides any facility set by the SyslogFacility directive.

A path value of "none" will disable logging for the entire daemon.

If you find that your ProFTPD installation appears to be ignoring your SystemLog configuration entirely, and your ProFTPD service is managed/run by systemd, then you may be encountering this FAQ.


The mod_log module is compiled by default.


Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Why are successful logins no longer being logged, after upgrading to ProFTPD 1.3.6, even though I am using the SystemLog directive?
Answer: The default log level was changed from DEBUG to NOTICE in ProFTPD 1.3.6; see
Bug#3983. And the "Login successful" log message is logged at the INFO level, which means that it will not be logged by default.

Why not? The INFO log level is for "normal operating conditions" (see the log levels howto), and successful logins are considered normal, and thus are not noteworthy or needed for logging. Failed logins, however, are logged at the NOTICE log level.

For having successful logins logged once more, use the following in your proftpd.conf:

  SyslogLevel INFO

Question: I configured SystemLog in my ProFTPD configuration, but ProFTPD still logs only to syslog. What is missing?
Answer: The most common cause for this behavior is the use of systemd for running ProFTPD. In particular, the systemd unit file for ProFTPD in some installations unexpectedly uses the --nodaemon command-line option, e.g.:

# /usr/lib/systemd/system/proftpd.service
Type = simple
Environment = PROFTPD_OPTIONS=
EnvironmentFile = -/etc/sysconfig/proftpd
ExecStartPre = /usr/sbin/proftpd --configtest
ExecStart = /usr/sbin/proftpd --nodaemon $PROFTPD_OPTIONS
ExecReload = /bin/kill -HUP $MAINPID
PIDFile = /run/proftpd/

When ProFTPD is started with the -n/--nodaemon command-line option, it will only log to stdout, and not to any configured log files. This configuration is useful, for example, when running ProFTPD in a Docker container.

A slightly different systemd unit file for ProFTPD will work just as well, and will honor the SystemLog configuration as expected:

Type = forking
Environment = PROFTPD_OPTIONS=
EnvironmentFile = -/etc/sysconfig/proftpd
ExecStartPre = /usr/sbin/proftpd --configtest $PROFTPD_OPTIONS
ExecStart = /usr/sbin/proftpd $PROFTPD_OPTIONS
ExecReload = /bin/kill -HUP $MAINPID
PIDFile = /run/proftpd/


Question: I have configured ProFTPD to use DNS names in my proftpd.conf using:

  UseReverseDNS on
But in my ExtendedLog, I still see IP addresses rather than the DNS names I expect to see. How can that happen?
Answer: The
LogFormat %h is what is used to log DNS names. The logged value might be an IP address if ProFTPD cannot properly verify that the client IP address resolves to a DNS name.

"Properly verifying" an IP address, in this case, means resolving the DNS name for an IP address and then resolving that DNS name back to its IP addresses:

  $ host domain name pointer
  $ host has address
In this example, the IP address does not resolve back to itself via DNS, but rather to a different IP address.

If the DNS name does not resolve back to the original IP address, then that DNS name is not used, as that DNS name is considered "unreliable"; only reliable information is logged (and used elsewhere). Thus ProFTPD resorts to logging just the client IP address for the %h variable, rather than the DNS name, in these situations.

Question: How can I get the reason a client was disconnected, for whatever reason, logged to my ExtendedLog?
Answer: You can use the %E
LogFormat variable for this, in conjunction with the EXIT log class.

For example, assume you have configured the following:

  MaxConnectionsPerUser 2
and you would like your ExtendedLog to record when this limit is reached. To do this, you would use something like the following:
  LogFormat eos "%a: user=%U disconnect_reason=\"%E\""
  ExtendedLog /var/log/proftpd/ext.log EXIT eos
Of course, you can include other logging classes than just EXIT; the above is just an example.

With the above, when the MaxConnectionsPerUser is reached, your log would have a line like: user=tj disconnect_reason="Denied by MaxConnectionsPerUser"

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