Installing and configuring a TFTP Server on Ubuntu

TFTP is a very simple UDP file transfer protocol that can be implemented with very little effort and footprint. For this reason, TFTP servers are very crucial for embedded developers even if they are used only for the purpose of firmware upgrades. This article is more of a note-to-self so I don’t have to hunt for it elsewhere.

We start by installing tftp client and server packages along with xinitd.

$ sudo apt-get install xinetd tftpd tftp

Create a directory to to act as your TFTP root (the place from which you serve your files) and set permissions so as to allow everyone to read-write-execute from there. Typically, this directory would be called tftpboot and placed at root level, and we will just stick to that convention.

$ sudo mkdir /tftpboot
$ sudo chmod -R 777 /tftpboot
$ sudo chown -R nobody /tftpboot

Create a new service in xinitd by creating /etc/xinetd.d/tftp with the following contents.

service tftp
    protocol        = udp
    port            = 69
    socket_type     = dgram
    wait            = yes
    user            = nobody
    server          = /usr/sbin/in.tftpd
    server_args     = /tftpboot
    disable         = no

Now that everything is in place, restart the xinetd service for the changes to kick-in and start your TFTP server.

sudo service xinetd restart

You can pass an additional -c option to server_args to allow remote file creation, but that is generally not preferred.

Now the TFTP server should be up and running. Now let’s test if its working,

$ echo "Test TFTP Server" > /tftpboot/test.txt
$ tftp <server-ip>
tftp> get test.txt
tftp> quit

After performing the above steps, you should have a file named test.txt in your current directory with the contents “Test TFTP Server”. If you did, your server is configured correctly.