Deprecation of scp protocol and improving sftp client

Stuart Henderson stu at
Wed Jun 17 03:10:37 AEST 2020

On 2020/06/16 18:41, Jakub Jelen wrote:
> Hello all,
> I believe we all can agree that scp is ugly protocol carried for ages
> only for its simplicity of its usage and really no dependencies as it
> is installed together with every ssh client. But as we have seen
> recently, its simplicity and flexibility comes with security issues
> [1], it does not have great performance and there is really no
> development in there.
> Over the years, we still keep recommending people to use sftp instead,
> but its api is not that flexible and simple to be usable as a drop-in
> replacement in scripts nor for the occasional ad-hoc transfers of few
> files from one server to another.

I've tried to switch to sftp several times, the thing that always
stops me is not being able to copy from local->remote directly
on the command line.

> Before I start hacking, I would like to hear some opinions from others,
> whether this is something planned, welcomed or whether there are some
> good reasons to keep scp alive.
> I have in my mind three things/steps that would make it possible:
>  * Update sftp client to be drop-in replacement for scp
>    (and/or)

This would seem a good starting point. It would allow using
"alias scp=sftp" for interactive shells (muscle memory / easier
typing) and makes it possible to convert scripts across one by one
from scp to sftp without unexpectedly breaking anything.

>  * Change scp to use sftp internally

Then you either have no fallback for scp with very old servers, or a
mess of either/or code to cope with both protocols. And it would seem
more complex to change the protocol code than the UI code.

>  * Modify sshd to use some compatibility "scpd" to support old clients
> and some time later
>  * Remove scp or replace it with a symlink
> [1]
> Any ideas/comments/suggestions?
> Best regards,
> -- 
> Jakub Jelen
> Senior Software Engineer
> Security Technologies
> Red Hat, Inc.
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