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I have already seen How to perform GREP on FTP? - that question implies that a grep in the remote file contents is needed; and as such, the answer is that the ftp protocol does not support that (download of all remote files locally is needed, before a search in their contents can be initiated).

I'm looking for something a bit more "simple" - I'd just like to grep/search for remote filenames; I'd imagine this requires that the remote directory tree is somehow downloaded. How could I do this through the command line?

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Here is one way - using GNU ftpsync.

Note that the download links on http://www.gnu.org/software/ftpsync/ seem to be broken as of now; the page you'd need is http://savannah.gnu.org/projects/ftpsync ... It seems that I got this via git, probably through the address:

git clone git://git.sv.gnu.org/ftpsync.git

Note that ftpsync is a Perl script, in the src/ directory of this repo. (Note also there is a different tool, ftpsync.py in Python, found at ftpsync2d - Google Project Hosting)

Anyways, the trick is simply to try to sync the remote FTP tree to an empty local directory, while having set ftpsync to info mode (-i) (so no actual download actions are performed), and in verbose mode. Note though, verbose mode (-v) seems to be buggy (I get even less output to stdout than if I don't use -v) ; so below I've used -d for debug mode, which seems to work as advertised.

Ultimately, I do this:

$ mkdir /tmp/test
$ cd /tmp/test
$ /path/to/ftpsync-git/src/ftpsync -d -i ftp://user:password@ftp.mysite.com/www .   2>&1 | tee _ftpsync_.log

Building remote tree ftp://user@ftp.mysite.com/www
Detecting if passive needed... Passive
Logging in as user.
Sync file /tmp/Q44CbrEGUU => Q44CbrEGUU
Localtime before 1393782144, Remote 1393782120, after 1393782144
Clock sync offset: 0h00m00s
Dir:  in www
Mod:1327878000 Size:737 .htaccess
Mod:1237503600 Size:241 .hiddenfile
Dir: stuff in www
Mod:1353452400 Size:4812800     somefile

Building local tree of .
Mod: Size:      
Died at /path/to/ftpsync-git/src/ftpsync line 1011.

After this process is done, you should be having a list of all files and directories under www/ on remote server, locally in _ftpsync_.log - thus later you can grep through this file, to search for remote filenames and subdirectory names.

Well - would still like to hear if there are alternative tools for doing this...

Hope this helps someone,

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On UNIX sytems usually Perl is already installed and Net::FTP is a Perl CORE module, e.g. is also installed. Then you could do without additional software (the grep is in the last line):

perl -MNet::FTP -e '
    $ftp = Net::FTP->new(q[ftp.example.com]) or die $!; 
    $ftp->login(q[ftp],q[user@host]) or die $ftp->message; 
    $ftp->cwd(q[pub/whatever]) or die $ftp->message;
    print "$_\n" for grep { /pattern/ } $ftp->ls
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Neat, wasn't aware of that - many thanks, @SteffenUllrich; cheers! – sdaau Mar 2 '14 at 19:18

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