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SFTP (Secure File Transfer Program) is an interactive file transfer program, similar to FTP, which performs all operations over an encrypted SSH transport. It uses many features of SSH, such as public key authentication and compression.[1]


The sftp command is part of the net-misc/openssh package, and deployments of Gentoo Linux should already have OpenSSH installed, as the package is part of the system set. The presence and proper functioning of OpenSSH can be checked by running the sftp command, which should output a usage statement:

user $sftp
usage: sftp [-46AaCfNpqrv] [-B buffer_size] [-b batchfile] [-c cipher]
          [-D sftp_server_path] [-F ssh_config] [-i identity_file]
          [-J destination] [-l limit] [-o ssh_option] [-P port]
          [-R num_requests] [-S program] [-s subsystem | sftp_server]

If no usage statement is printed, OpenSSH may be corrupt, or not installed. Try re-installation by following the Installation section from the SSH article.


For having tab completion the libedit USE flag needs to be enabled.[2] For further configuration see the configuration section in the SSH article.

See also

  • CurlFtpFS — allows for mounting an FTP folder as a regular directory to the local directory tree.
  • SCP — an interactive file transfer program, similar to the copy command, that copies files over an encrypted SSH transport.
  • SSH — the ubiquitous tool for logging into and working on remote machines securely.
  • SSHFS — a secure shell client used to mount remote filesystems to local machines.

External resources

  • The official sftp man page locally via man sftp or online at openbsd.org