I'm looking for a file sharing protocol that.

  • has client software for ubuntu and mac os x
  • has server software for ubuntu.
  • lets me mount encrypted file partitions using pam_mount. (or something similar)
  • allows random access

What doesn't work


There's no random read access.


Doesn't allow me to mount my encrypted partitions with pam_mount, because the password isn't sent in clear. (And encrypting the volume with the stored hash is pretty insecure because the hash is weak.)

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Plaintext password doesn't have to be a requirement. If the file server runs SSH, script a ssh host mount /dev/encrypted_disk ... just before accessing the filesystem. (If you use pam_mount on your local system too -- add a pam_exec.)

  • That's a possibility I'm considering. Given that fact that it's also going to act as a backup disk it would be nice if that worked without any user intervention though. So SSH'ing to the server is suboptimal. – Georg Schölly Oct 28 '10 at 21:27
  • You can SSH without user intervention - it requires you to use keys instead of passwords – Broam Oct 28 '10 at 21:34
  • @Broam: Which it turn makes it impossible to decrypt the partition, because the password is used as the key for it. – Georg Schölly Oct 29 '10 at 5:31
  • @Georg: Not necessarily. You use keys for SSH authentication, but then pass the PAM password to a program being ran over SSH. This could be achieved using pam_ssh.so to unlock the SSH keys, and pam_exec.so expose_authtok ssh remotehost mount blahblah to mount the remote filesystem. (expose_authtok will make pam_exec.so give your login password to ssh through stdin, to be consumed by remote mount. It's a relatively new addition to Linux-PAM, though.) – grawity Oct 29 '10 at 19:14
  • If I understand you correctly, this is what happens: You log in and the computer automatically sshs to the server. That means, I actually don't need to use keys, because this works only on login (using gdm, ssh, ...) Basically, this is mount-on-login. Did I understand that correctly? (I'm using pam_mount at the moment to mount the encrypted partitions on the server on SSH login anyway, but that works only for password-logins obviously.) – Georg Schölly Oct 31 '10 at 13:45

Have a look at NFS.

  • I did. Is there a simple way of configuring it without going crazy? – Georg Schölly Oct 28 '10 at 20:19
  • I just read a little bit about how authentication works with NFS. Apparently one has to use a separate kerberos server. Doesn't this mean that pam_mount won't work because the password is never sent to the file server? – Georg Schölly Oct 28 '10 at 20:56

I'd probably use either SMB or NFS with an SSH tunnel.

Watch out with NFS though. I've had a lot of problems with it on OSX using large files. The OSX client will try to cache a 4GB file in memory then the OS runs out of mememory and starts paging like mad and thrashes the HDD. The entire computer becomes unresponsive.


The simplest way is to use SFTP. I initially thought it wouldn't allow random read/write access, but it does.

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