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I got an aging Gentoo Linux laptop which I am about to transform into a fileserver for our home users (to view our family photos, films etc). Clients to support will be Linux, MacOS and Windows.

What I have in mind is a very basic setup, with perhaps one read-only share (for viewing family photos that are really not intended to be edited, only viewed) and one read-write share for more generic use.

Given the need to support clients running all of Linux+MacOS+Windows, what is the best choice of file-sharing protocol to use? As far as I can tell, Samba seem to be the only one easily supported by Linux on the server side, but how well does it work for MacOS clients? NFS seem to be out of the question, mainly because Windows do not support it natively. Also, I'm willing to sacrifice some file transfer performance in order to get an easily administered/setup solution (again, something that talks against NFS: setting up third party NFS clients on the Windows boxes is too much of a headache, especially as I will not own those windows boxes).

Also, is there some good guide for basic samba usage (using google ended up in finding what seemed to be 200 page textbooks which is quite some overkill). Yes, I admit I'm lazy here and would gladly accept lazy answerers who simply provided a URL for some client-os-agnostic samba guide.

(No, I am not considering buying a NAS, not this time. I got the laptop ready for the task as I write this. I only need to plug in the USB HD, install and setup the filesharing software and I'm ready!)

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2 Answers

Probably the easiest/quickest will be to setup openssh-server and apache on linux box.

You will have:

  • read access from every browser in your network
  • relatively easy read/write via ssh (winscp for windows, native on linux)
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Hm. Openssh is already there, adding apache would be a no-brainer. I'm a bit sceptic to losing the direct file access over the network but need to ponder that a bit more. Interesting out-of-the-box thinking! –  IllvilJa Jan 2 '12 at 20:30
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Samba with a basic read-only share should be pretty easy to set up, and SMB should be supported out of the box on all three OSes. E.g.::

# Global Parameters
[global]
workgroup = MIDEARTH
security = SHARE

[foo]
path = /data/bar
read only = Yes
guest ok = Yes
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