Sunday, December 6, 2009

Setting up file sharing in Ubuntu Linux

I made a BIG switch from Windows Vista to Ubuntu Linux a while ago.  I have been able to figure out how to do nearly all of my computing tasks in Ubuntu that I need on a regular basis.  The one thing I had a lot of difficulty with for some reason was file sharing.

My linux machine is wirelessly networked with my wife's Windows XP desktop and my own Windows XP netbook.  I wanted to share my external backup hard drive over the network so that she could just copy-paste stuff right into the drive over the network.

For some reason I found that the simplest method just didn't work:
  • Right-click on the icon for my backup drive in Nautilus
  • Click on 'Sharing Options'
  • Click on 'Share this folder'
  • Click on 'Allow others to create and delete files in this folder'
It kept giving me error messages!  Argh!  I kept finding a bunch of how-to's telling me how to modify my samba configuration file.  That was promising but I kept messing stuff up:
  • My printer share stopped working
  • All my shares stopped working
  • I could only view shares from her computer
Finally I found an answer.  Today I looked up "easy samba configuration" on google and found this page that gives a simple samba configuration file that only needs a few tweaks to work.  First I modified the [global] section:

  • I put my computer name, "inkhorn-laptop", next to "netbios name = "
  • I put my workgroup name, "MSHOME", next to "workgroup = "
Then I modified the [network-share] section:
  • I changed [network-share] to read [backup-drive]
  • Put the path to my backup drive, "/media/backup" next to "path = "
  • I deleted the "force group" line, as that didn't seem to help
  • I put the username I set up for my wife next to "force user = "
 Just make sure to follow the directions in the page I linked to above to create a samba username and password for the person you want to access your share.

Finally file sharing and printer sharing are working at the same time :)

--------------- EDIT: Dec. 27, 2009----------------------

The above seems to work just fine for sharing folders on my main hard drive.  To share my external drive it turns out I needed to jump through some hoops to change its permissions so that other people can read, write and execute files on it.  See my latest blog post on the topic here.


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