How-To Geek

Set gFTP as the Default Command Line FTP Client on Ubuntu

gFTP is a great ftp client for Ubuntu Linux that provides both a GUI based experience as well as a command line client. There’s an easy way to switch between using the default ftp client and using gftp-text. First you’ll want to make sure that you’ve installed gFTP.

We’ll use the update-alternatives command to change the setting. Open up a terminal window and type in the following command:

sudo update-alternatives –config ftp

You should see something similar to this:

~$ sudo update-alternatives –config ftp

There are 2 alternatives which provide `ftp’.
Selection Alternative
*+ 1 /usr/bin/netkit-ftp
    2 /usr/bin/gftp-text
Press enter to keep the default[*], or type selection number: 2

For my system, gftp is option 2, so I type that in and hit the enter key.

To test this out, just type in “ftp localhost”… you should see that your system is now using gftp instead.

~$ ftp localhost
gFTP 2.0.18, Copyright (C) 1998-2003 Brian Masney <>. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this program,
please feel free to email them to me. You can always find out the latest news
about gFTP from my website at
gFTP comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY; for details, see the COPYING file. This
is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it under certain
conditions; for details, see the COPYING file

Username [anonymous]:

Nice and simple.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/5/06

Comments (3)

  1. Alex

    Thank You

  2. Sean

    I think you need to use — instead of a single – in the line:

    sudo update-alternatives –config ftp

    i.e. instead run:

    sudo update-alternatives –config ftp

  3. Sean

    And now since I have posted I can see that the way the text is process you can’t see the difference! So what you put originally is probably correct, it just didn’t render properly.

    So what I was trying to say is:

    You need to put two -‘s (with no spaces between them) before the word config.

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