Eliminating FTP. Finally
  • Vote Up0Vote Down geoffgeoff +1 -1 (+1 / -0 )
    Posts: 19

    Hi everyone,

    After over 25 years of having EServer editors update their writings using FTP, we've decided, as a security measure, to eliminate it from the EServer. It's the end of an era. Literally.

    For those of you who don't know, FTP is the grandfather of Internet protocols. We started using it in 1990, when "anonymous FTP" was one of the most popular ways to exchange ebooks on the Internet (this was before the Web, and even before the Gopher). FTP was always a little awkward; experienced computer users tended to prefer the Apple File Protocol or Microsoft's Server Message Block, anyway. Pure FTP wasn't even encrypted (you had to use a later variant, called SFTP, to get any security at all).

    We have modern content management systems, for editors who want these for new collections. And we've been upgrading many of our older collections to modern CMSes as our editors asked for these.

    But FTP was still the old-scool way to produce web content. It worked from every kind of computer. And it was built in to some software, such as Adobe's Dreamweaver. So we kept it.

    But increasingly, FTP was a weak link on our servers. In recent years we've encountered increasing numbers of automated scripts launching something called 'dictionary' attacks at our FTP server (trying common usernames and tens of thousands of password guesses, in an attempt to find a way in to our system). And though these very seldom work, they have caused some downtime for our FTP server, which annoyed some of our longtime editors (who wanted to use it to update collections).

    But the Web simply offers better technologies, these days. We're beginning, starting today, to encourage EServer editors to set up accounts on a system called "EServer Cloud". This is a web-based protocol, one with secure encryption, which operates much like commercial cloud services such as Dropbox or Box.com. (It actually uses the open-source alternative called 'OwnCloud'.) This will mean that editors will be able to edit EServer websites from web browsers, from their computers using the secure WebDAV protocol, or using a folder kept on their local device set to work with free and open-source apps on their computers, tablets, or phones. This will make it easier to collaborate when posting or editing content, and will allow our authors and editors to set up a 'collection' folder on their favorite computer (or each of their favorite computers); they can then update any files whenever, and when they next connect to the Internet (or immediately on save, if they're online when working) their updates will be synced to other computers with access to the collection. From now on, no file uploading will be necessary.

    This should be a Good Thing. We'll work on our documentation on how to do this. If you're interested in updating your EServer collection and can't wait for detailed instructions, please contact me (Geoff) and I'll talk you through setting up EServer Cloud access for your book, article, or collection.

    Geoff Sauer
    Director, EServer.org