ProFTPD won't start

We have a client server with the just the GPL version. His ProFTPD broke and won't start. Is there any tips on how to debug the issue?



What error do you see when trying to start ProFTPD from the command line?

And do any errors show up in /var/log/messages when starting it?

They got the FTP going somehow. So it is working without my intervention. However, it was brought to my attention that you can climb up the FTP ladder as a virtual customer and see all the other sites. I know how to stop that in Windows but is there a way to stop it in ProFTPD? And if that is the default behavior and default install would it not be a security risk?

Now one of our servers is in trouble with ProFTPD and the complaints are pouring in. The service won't start. It does not really give any details. How is it that two dedicated servers have broken down ProFTPD in the space of just a week or so? It is alarming how fragile ProFTPD is becoming. Last year we had to replace a server for a client because his ProFTPD was not working but we need to learn enough to fix it. Can you help? I really don't know what to do.

Well, it's pretty rare for services to fail -- the key is for us to figure out what's going on, then we can look into how to prevent that from occurring again in the future.

What output do you get if you run this command:

rpm -qa | grep proftp

Also, what do you see if you try running this command as root:


[root@tango ~]# rpm -qa | grep proftp proftpd-1.3.3c-1.el5.vm

In logs the last entry is:

May 30 07:09:48 tango proftpd[11352]: - ProFTPD 1.3.3c (maint) (built Wed Nov 17 2010 19:37:41 PST) standalone mode STARTUP

That all looks good there.

What output do you see on the console if you run this command as root:


If it's failing to launch, the above command should produce an error message on the console.

If you don't receive an error -- what output does this command produce:

netstat -anlp | grep :21

Hello Everyone,

I am having the following issue with the ftp service on my server.

Here is the particulars on my server:

Distributor ID: Ubuntu Description: Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS Release: 10.04 Codename: lucid

cat /proc/version Linux version 2.6.18-274.3.1.el5.028stab094.3 (root@rhel5-build-x64) (gcc version 4.1.2 20080704 (Red Hat 4.1.2-46)) #1 SMP Thu Sep 22 13:24:07 MSD 2011

Webmin version 1.590 Virtualmin version 3.93.gpl GPL

top - 17:03:37 up 7 days, 18:28, 1 user, load average: 0.12, 0.13, 0.08 Tasks: 46 total, 1 running, 45 sleeping, 0 stopped, 0 zombie Cpu0 : 0.0%us, 0.0%sy, 0.0%ni,100.0%id, 0.0%wa, 0.0%hi, 0.0%si, 0.0%st Cpu1 : 0.0%us, 0.3%sy, 0.0%ni, 99.7%id, 0.0%wa, 0.0%hi, 0.0%si, 0.0%st Cpu2 : 0.0%us, 0.0%sy, 0.0%ni,100.0%id, 0.0%wa, 0.0%hi, 0.0%si, 0.0%st Cpu3 : 0.0%us, 0.0%sy, 0.0%ni,100.0%id, 0.0%wa, 0.0%hi, 0.0%si, 0.0%st Cpu4 : 0.0%us, 0.0%sy, 0.0%ni,100.0%id, 0.0%wa, 0.0%hi, 0.0%si, 0.0%st Cpu5 : 0.3%us, 0.0%sy, 0.0%ni, 99.7%id, 0.0%wa, 0.0%hi, 0.0%si, 0.0%st Cpu6 : 0.0%us, 0.0%sy, 0.0%ni,100.0%id, 0.0%wa, 0.0%hi, 0.0%si, 0.0%st Cpu7 : 0.0%us, 0.0%sy, 0.0%ni,100.0%id, 0.0%wa, 0.0%hi, 0.0%si, 0.0%st Mem: 2097152k total, 554800k used, 1542352k free, 0k buffers Swap: 0k total, 0k used, 0k free, 0k cached

Obviously this is the error:

root@ubuntu1:/# service proftpd start * Starting ftp server proftpd /etc/init.d/proftpd: line 88: 1372 Illegal instruction start-stop-daemon --start --quiet --pidfile "$PIDFILE" --oknodo --exec $DAEMON -- $OPTIONS

I think this should cover it, Thanks in Advance. I have been searching and trying things out for a month. I cannot figure it out. I have been having them use the file manager to put there web content up on their site.

Thanks again,


Linux System Admin -

You may want to try starting ProFTPd manually from the command line to see if it shows you some more specific errors... you can do that with this command:

/usr/sbin/proftpd -n

It also appears as if you may be using OpenVZ there... we've seen some unusual things occur with it when resources get low. While it does look like you have plenty of RAM, there could be other limits being hit. You may want to take a peek in /proc/user_beancounters, and make sure the "failcnt" column at the end doesn't show any failures.

However, if the above doesn't help -- it'd be best to start a new thread in the forums, where we can assist you there.

When you do that, be sure to include whatever output you get when starting ProFTPd directly. Thanks!

I have a similar issue with ProFTPD too:

After update from ProFTPD 1.3.3g to 1.3.4a-1.el5.rf.x86_64 ProFTPD doesn't start any more.

The command "/usr/sbin/proftpd" produced this error:

Fatal: unknown configuration directive 'VRootEngine' on line 16 of '/etc/proftpd.conf'

Line 16 of the proftpd.conf is this: VRootEngine on

The update created a new proftpd.conf file and saved the old one as "proftpd.conf.rpmnew".

Then I replaced the new proftpd.conf file with the old one and now ProFTPD starts.

But I don't know the reason for this trouble.

My system: CentOS 5.8

Additional notes: The new proftpd.conf file is quite different to the old one and has more than double the size.

Hi Karl -- it looks like you're using a non-standard ProFTPd version... a lot of folks have had problems when using a ProFTPd package from a third party repository.

My recommendation would be to reinstall the proftpd package from the Virtualmin repository.

I'd also suggest disabling third party repositories on your system, and only pulling in packages from non-standard repos that you really need.

Hi Andrey,

thanks for your quick response. Meanwhile I found a solution here:

I followed the instructions and now it works again.

Do you still recommend to reinstall the proftpd package from the Virtualmin repository?

Thanks and best regards, Karl

Well, if it's working, there's no need to make changes -- but if you run into problems with it in the future, you might consider reinstalling the proftpd package from the Virtualmin repository.

Even if you don't switch proftpd packages, I would still suggest either disabling the RPMForge repository, or configuring it to only pull in packages you need.

I never did get this working. We still have two servers without working FTP. This one shows it can't be started, the other is running but does not work. With this one that won't start --- [root@thresher ~]# service proftpd start Redirecting to /bin/systemctl start proftpd.service Job for proftpd.service failed because a timeout was exceeded. See "systemctl status proftpd.service" and "journalctl -xe" for details. ------ proftpd[16503]: mod_delay/0.7: unable to load DelayTable '/run/proftpd/proftpd.delay' (fd 4) into memory: Invalid argument

With the one that won't start, it sounds like there's a problem with one of the ProFTPd modules... mod_delay.

I don't see that being loaded in the systems I'm looking at, is that by chance something you had enabled? If so, you may want to try disabling it and see if that allows ProFTPd to start.

If that doesn't help, what distro/version is it that you're using?

Still can't figure out how to get FTP going on a server now for the last few weeks. It is not the SSH Key problem that we had on another server, this is something different.

Jun 16 15:17:37 thresher systemd: proftpd.service start operation timed out. Terminating.
Jun 16 15:17:37 thresher proftpd: 2016-06-16 15:17:37,310 proftpd[10158]: ProFTPD killed (signal 15)
Jun 16 15:17:37 thresher proftpd: 2016-06-16 15:17:37,310 proftpd[10158]: mod_delay/0.7: unable to load DelayTable '/run/proftpd/proftpd.delay' (fd 4) into memory: Invalid argument
Jun 16 15:17:37 thresher proftpd: 2016-06-16 15:17:37,310 proftpd[10158]: ProFTPD 1.3.5a standalone mode SHUTDOWN
Jun 16 15:17:37 thresher systemd: Failed to start ProFTPD FTP Server.
Jun 16 15:17:37 thresher systemd: Unit proftpd.service entered failed state.
Jun 16 15:17:37 thresher systemd: proftpd.service failed. Anyone with a thought on how to debug. Never tried uninstalling and installing before. Was hoping to fix it.

Hmm, did you try the suggestion I shared above?

It still looks like you're still experiencing a problem with mod_delay. Let us know what you think about our thoughts in Comment #15, which addresses the problem you appear to be seeing here.

I can see by running proftpd -l that there is a mod_delay.c listed, but I have no idea how to disable it. And I have never compiled a program in my life, that would be above my pay grade. Any thoughts on if there is a way to disable the module to see if that allows FTP to start?

There should be a modules.conf file, somewhere in /etc... maybe in /etc/proftpd. In there would be a list of modules that ProFTPd is trying to start.

You can comment out the line loading that particular module, and then re-attempt starting ProFTPd.

That was the first thing I did days ago. Since then I have looked at the config file many times. There are a number of modules, but no module for mod_delay.c that I can tell. I think my next experiment might be to take the config file from a working server and replace all that I can on this not working server. Perhaps there is something in the syntax that is wrong. I don't have anything to lose at this point because the service won't start anyway. If I get it working I will proudly let everyone know how it was done.

Yeah that's a good idea... if that doesn't help, you can always share the config with us, and we can take a peek and see if there's something in there that stands out to us.