Rsync Illustration by Walker Cahall

Rsync Illustration by Walker Cahall 

Verified and Tested 09/28/2015


This tutorial will take you through setting up an rsync daemon on your Linux server. You might want an rsync daemon if you have files that you want available so anyone (or just yourself) can download existing files or upload new files. This guide will review both running rsync as its own daemon and running it via xinetd.


– A Linux server with rsync installed.
– (Optional) Xinetd installed.
– Appropriate permissions to read and/or write on the rsync daemon (this tutorial will show commands run as the root user).

Setting up an Rsync Daemon

First, using your preferred text editor, you’ll need to create the configuration file /etc/rsyncd.conf, if you do not have one already. Below is an example of our basic configuration parameters and explanations of each one.

pid file = /var/run/
lock file = /var/run/rsync.lock
log file = /var/log/rsync.log
port = 12000

path = /home/public_rsync
comment = RSYNC FILES
read only = true
timeout = 300

pid file: The process id file the daemon uses.

lock file: The daemon lock file.

log file: The location of the log file.

port: If you do not want the rsync daemon to run on its default port (873) then you may specify a new port here. Make sure this port is open in your firewall. Rsync uses the TCP protocol for its transfers.

[files]: This is the module name. The name used here is what you’ll be putting in the rsync pull command as the first part of the source (/files/../..). You can name it what you’d like and can have as many as you’d like.

path: The file path for files associated with this module.

comment: Descriptive comment for this module.

read only: This tells the daemon the directory for this module is read-only. You cannot upload to it. For upload only, use upload only = true.

timeout: Time, in seconds, the rsync daemon will wait before terminating a dead conenction.

This is just a basic configuration. For a more detailed list of options, see the manual page.


Running Rsync as a Daemon

Now with this basic configuration we can start the daemon by itself by running the below:

rsync --daemon

You can verify the daemon is running with:

ps x | grep rsync

If you have anything weird in the output, such as a statement stating unconfined, you may have SELinux blocking the daemon. You will need to work to add rsync to be accepted by SELinux in order for you to run the daemon.

Now that the rsync daemon is running, it’s ready to accept connections. If you are unsure how to do connect from an rsync client, review our guide on connecting with rsync.

To stop the daemon you can run a kill command.

kill `cat /var/run/`


Running Rsync Via Xinetd

If you are already using xinetd to manage services, you can add rsync daemon control as well. While xinetd provides greater central control over running processes, note that it doesn’t necessarily mean greater security.

First, edit the xinet.d file for rsync, if it already exists (if not, you can create it and use the example configuration below). Change the disabled line to no. You will also want to add the port line with either the default (873) or your custom port.

Note: If you are using a custom port, you will also need to edit the rsync port in the service file (/etc/services) to your custom port.

Using your preferred text editor, create or edit /etc/xinetd.d/rsync as below:

# default: off
# description: The rsync server is a good addition to an ftp server, as it \
# allows crc checksumming etc.
service rsync
disable = no
flags = IPv6
socket_type = stream
port = 12000
wait = no
user = root
server = /usr/bin/rsync
server_args = --daemon
log_on_failure += USERID

Now you just need to restart xinetd, and the rsync daemon should run.

/etc/init.d/xinetd restart


Testing the Rysnc Directories

To test your connection to the rsync daemon and find which paths are available to you, simply connect from your client to the rsync host using the following method. This method runs only part of a pull command but will reveal paths for you.

rsync -rdt rsync://IPADDR:RsyncPort/
Find file path

Find file path

This command will show which directories are open to you. If you do not know the file name you can repeat the process (adding onto the file path) until you find the intended file(s).

rsync -rdt rsync://IPADDR:RsyncPort/DirectoryName
More file paths discovered

More file paths discovered

And once you find the file, you can complete the command and pull it in.

rsync -rdt rsync://IPADDR:RsyncPort/DirectoryName/File /DestinationDirectory/
Full path found

Full path found


Adding Usernames and Passwords to the Rsync Daemon

You can make your rsync daemon more secure by adding a username and password requirement in its configuration file. Open /etc/rsyncd.conf with your preferred text editor, and enter these parameters under the module.

path = /home/public_rsync
comment = RSYNC FILES
read only = true
timeout = 300
auth users = rsync1,rsync2
secrets file = /etc/rsyncd.secrets

auth users: List of users, seperated by commas. They do not necessarily need to exist on the system, but they do need to exist in the secrets file.

secrets file: File path to your secrets file that contains the list of usernames and passwords.

Then, again using your preferred text editor, open or create your /etc/rsyncd.secrets file. Use the following format username:password.


Once you have saved this file, secure it so only the root user can read or edit it.

chmod 600 /etc/rsyncd.secrets

Note that we added an rsync3 user which we did not specify in the auth users parameter in /etc/rsyncd.conf. You’ll see why below.

Now, when connecting to this rsync daemon, you’ll need to be sure to use the appropriate username.

valid rsync user

valid rsync user

If you try to connect with a user not permitted in the auth users, you will get the below error.

invalid rsync user

invalid rsync user

Just remember that authorized users must appear in both the /etc/rsyncd.conf and the /etc/rsyncd.secrets files.
And that’s it for the basics of an rsync daemon. You should now be able to create a basic rsync daemon and have directories specified for uploading, downloading, or both!