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I have a remote VM that runs Ubuntu Server 12.04 LTS. I installed on that remote machine vsftpd. Therefore I can access folders and files on that remote machine through FTP. My goal is to make my life simpler so on my Windows 8 machine (local), I created a new network location in the Windows Explorer. To be specific, while on "This PC", i right clicked -> add a network location, and typed the URL ftp://RemoteUbuntuServerDomain.org. I was indeed able to view the files the way I wanted but when I double click a file (not a folder), it opens with firefox.

Searching into Default Programs->Associate a file type or protocol with a specific program I found that FTP is indeed associated with Mozilla Firefox but when I tried to change it, the suggested options where other browsers, WinSCP, or Look for an app in the store. It makes sense to not be able to open any ftp link with an editor of course.

Could there be a way so I can assign an editor into opening files, or at least filetypes through FTP and through the Windows explorer? My editor of preference is Sublime Text and I do not want to use an FTP plugin on that editor. I don't want a WinSCP type of solution either. I would like the behavior I described.

Edit: This seems to be a problem that bothers other people too as hinted in the comments. So far the solutions suggested/approached by me are as follows:

  • [Suggested] NetDrive, WebDrive, Swish (doesn't work on windows 8) and Fling. So far NetDrive seems to be the closer one but it costs after 30 days of trial.
  • [Approach] Try to assign a custom program to the FTP protocol (and its derivatives like ftps,sftp etc) through registry. (relevant for WinSCP. Found one for FileZilla too but can't post more than 2 links with less than 10 rep)
  • [Approach] Maybe create a VPN with the server and browse the folders in the server as local would be a non-FTP solution. This however has the issue that I have to start a vpn connection with the server everytime or be always on a VPN connection. Maybe I could assign a network card to connect to the VPN and have my main card for public internet connection?
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The best solution I've found so far, which is relevant to editing remote code files, is the following:

http://winscp.net/eng/docs/task_keep_up_to_date

Another approach is to setup keys for an SSH connection with OpenSSH in windows. Then you need to upload the public key to the server and also convert the local key with puttygen. (which is included in the winscp installation folder).

I'm not allowed to post more than 2 links with 15 or less rep so google

  • WinSCP Public Key Authorization
  • WinSCP PuTTYgen

After that you can create a shortcut (to your taskbar e.g.), that directly opens a remote site through WinSCP as described here

http://winscp.net/eng/docs/integration

under "Desktop and Quick Launch Icons".

At the end of this second approach you should be able to just click the shortcut and without typing a password securely be connected to your server. Also if your edit remote files with your editor and save them, WinSCP will no longer ask for a password the first time you save a file. As opposed to password connection that is. Also this method does not require an FTP server running.

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Windows Explorer does not natively support FTP, only a browser does that.

There are, however, 3rd party tools that will integrate FTP into Windows Explorer. NetDrive is possibly the most common. But there are others such as Swish that work if you switch to a secure connection.

UPDATE: WebDrive is another commercial solution that is ridiculously expensive. FTPx is a shareware tool though I don't know if it supports W8.

A slightly different approach is taken by Fling. This synchronises the remote FTP folders with local Windows folders.

There does seem to be some discussion about whether what you want is available natively though the outcome seems uncertain. Personally, I've always found Window's native FTP and WebDAV support to be very unreliable. It isn't for nothing that there are a number of well used and supported FTP clients such as WinSCP & FileZilla.

May have some more later if time permits.

UPDATE 2: Another thought if you are considering changing the server (mentioned by you in respect to a VPN solution) would be to implement WebDAV. Although this too can be problematic to use with Windows, it is natively supported.

One thing I should have pointed out before as well. You should never use an unsecured protocol (FTP, WebDAV) over a public network. Not EVER! WebDAV can be configured to use SSL/TLS encryption and FTP can be accessed via several secure standards.

  • NetDrive does indeed what I want but it has a 30 day trial. I'm not willing to invest money on this issue, at least yet. Swish doesn't work on windows 8. I would prefer something that runs with no third party software though. Regardless, if you have any more third party suggestions please share. – Tasos Apr 4 '15 at 20:35
  • The discussion you linked is interesting and I agree that the verdict is unclear. I did try the suggestion to tick "FTP Server" in "Turn Windows Features On or Off" but that didn't work. If I was somehow able to change the program assigned to the protocol besides the suggested options maybe that would be a start. I did actually go to the registry under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT/ftp/shell/open/command/default and changed the value to the path of sublime_text. (did the same with ftps). The value before was the assigned program from Default Programs. (Continuation next comment). – Tasos Apr 5 '15 at 10:52
  • (Continutation from previous comment). However that doesn't work either, files still open with the choice of Default Programs. I don't get that. The value in registry key is not taken into account as it seems, maybe there is another key aswell? Also assigning sublime_text to ALL ftp links wouldn't be a solution but it's a start. The next step could be writing a little program that acts depending the file extension or something. – Tasos Apr 5 '15 at 10:52
  • Another problem here is that I'm pretty sure that sublime_text and maybe other editors couldn't not open an ftp link, even if I found a way to assign them to ftp. So a DYI solution would be to download the file in a cache, and open it with and editor all in a double click. I would also need a filewatcher with a table that keeps tabs with what came from where. If a file changes in the cache the filewatcher would upload it to my server. In sort a solution could be to implement what WinSCP does in Windows Explorer with a lot of gimmicks and hacks. I would really want a solution to this though. – Tasos Apr 5 '15 at 10:57
  • On the update 2: I completely agree with the security concerns. I was going to use ftps or sftp once I was sure that it works they way i want. Right now I'm just trying solutions temporary. – Tasos Apr 5 '15 at 12:29

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