1. Overview

When working with multiple machines, we often need to copy files from one machine to another. It can be quite tedious to have to copy items to an external drive and, then, from the external device to the target machine. However, we can make this process more streamlined by sharing files through the network.

In this article, we’ll learn how to share files between Linux and macOS. For that purpose, we’ll use Samba, which is the most common way to share files over a network.

2. Sharing Files on macOS

Samba is a set of tools that enables sharing between networked devices. It uses the SMB (Server Message Block) protocol. SMB supports file and printer sharing as well as other resource sharing between computers.

2.1. Setting up File Sharing on macOS

macOS already comes with Samba pre-installed:

$ which smbd
/usr/sbin/smbd

Afterward, we enable file sharing from the macOS System Settings by navigating to General → Sharing → File Sharing:

macOS: File Sharing

In addition, we can also set directories for sharing by selecting the information icon on the right. In the panel, we select the folders and set appropriate permissions for each:

macOS: Set File Permissions

Moreover, let’s make sure that we have selected the account for access in the Options panel:

macOS: Enable File Sharing Accounts

That’s it! We are now set to access the files on this Mac.

2.2. Accessing Shared Files with smbclient

We access the files shared from the Mac through a Samba client. One of the most popular clients is smbclient. It’s not installed on most Linux distributions. However, it’s available on most official package repositories:

# Debian and derivatives
$ sudo apt install -y smbclient

# Fedora and derivatives
$ sudo dnf install -y smbclient

# openSUSE
$ sudo zypper install --non-interactive smbclient

# Arch and derivatives
$ sudo pacman -S --noconfirm smbclient

Once installed, let’s verify it:

$ smbclient --version
Version 4.17.7-Ubuntu

Now, let’s go ahead and access our Public folder on the Mac:

$ smbclient //MacBook.local/Public -U hey

In the command, // signifies the SMB protocol and MacBook.local is the Mac’s local hostname, followed by the path to the shared folder. In addition, -U specifies the username, which is hey.

Upon executing, we’ll need to enter the password for user hey. Once we enter the valid password, we’ll be taken to the interactive prompt:

Try "help" to get a list of possible commands.
smb: \> 

Let’s enlist the files in the Public directory:

smb: \> ls
  .                                   D        0  Sat Jan  6 18:43:07 2024
  ..                                  D        0  Sat Jan  6 18:43:07 2024
  offer-letter.pdf                    A   171436  Wed Dec 13 20:40:58 2023
  adm-letter.pdf                      A   117894  Wed Dec 13 21:03:15 2023

		124975692 blocks of size 4096. 75190733 blocks available

We’ll use lcd to change the local directory to Desktop on our Ubuntu machine:

smb: \> lcd /home/baeldung/Desktop

Now, we’ll recursively copy all the files inside Public to the target local folder:

smb: \> prompt recurse
smb: \> mget *
getting file \offer-letter.pdf of size 171436 as offer-letter.pdf (11161.1 KiloBytes/sec) (average 11161.2 KiloBytes/sec)
getting file \adm-letter.pdf of size 117894 as adm-letter.pdf (11513.0 KiloBytes/sec) (average 11302.0 KiloBytes/sec)

Let’s break this down:

  • prompt recurse enables recursive copying of the files
  • mget * carries out the copy operation

That’s it! Let’s verify that our folders are copied:

$ ls -l $HOME/Desktop
total 5424
-rw-r--r--  1 baeldung baeldung  117894 Jan  6 18:46 adm-letter.pdf
-rw-r--r--  1 baeldung baeldung  171436 Jan  6 18:46 offer-letter.pdf<br />...

2.3. Accessing Shared Files Using File Managers

In addition to smbclient, we can also access the shared folder using a file manager. For instance, we can fire up Nautilius or GNOME Files and head over to “Other Locations” in the sidebar. At the bottom, we provide the local address of the host:

Nautilus: Access Network Files

Afterward, we provide the necessary credentials. Once authenticated, we will be given access to that shared folder:

Nautilus: Shared Files

3. Sharing Files on Linux

In this section, we’ll follow a similar approach. We’ll install, configure, and enable Samba as well as share a directory to access it from the Mac.

3.1. Installing Samba on Linux

Samba is available in most official package repositories:

# Debian and derivatives
$ sudo apt install -y samba

# Fedora and derivatives
$ sudo dnf install -y samba

# openSUSE
$ sudo zypper install --non-interactive samba

# Arch and derivatives
$ sudo pacman -S --noconfirm samba

Once installed, let’s verify it:

$ smbd --version
Version 4.17.7-Ubuntu

3.2. Configuring Samba

We configure Samba by modifying the /etc/samba/smb.conf file:

$ sudo vim /etc/samba/smb.conf

In the file, we can change the workgroup name:

workgroup = WORKGROUP

However, we’ll leave it at its default name. Next, at the end of the file, we create a new section for shared folders:

[shared_folder]
    comment = Acedamic documents
    path = /home/baeldung/Documents
    browseable = yes
    read only = no
    guest ok = no

Let’s dig into this:

  • [shared_folder] specifies that the section configures a shared folder
  • comment describes the shared folder
  • path specifies the shared folder using a local path
  • browseable specifies whether we can browse this folder
  • read only sets the read-only permission, which we set to no for read-write access
  • guest ok enables guest access, which is disabled

Finally, we’ll add a Samba user and set a password for it:

$ sudo smbpasswd -a baeldung
New SMB password:
Retype new SMB password:
Added user baeldung.

We’ll access the shared folder using these credentials. Once we configure the shared folder, it’s time to launch the Samba service.

3.3. smbd Daemon

The Samba service or smbd daemon functions as a server and handles the SMB requests, print services, and authentication.

Let’s start the service:

$ sudo systemctl start smbd.service

Now, let’s verify that it’s running:

$ systemctl status smbd.service
sudo systemctl status smbd.service
⦿ smbd.service - Samba SMB Daemon
     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/smbd.service; enabled; preset: enabled)

3.4. Accessing Shared Files from a Mac

We’re now ready to access our Linux system’s shared folder on a Mac. For that purpose, we only need Finder. In Finder, navigate to GoConnect to Server:

Finder: Connect to Server

In the dialog, select Browse:

Finder: Connect Server Dialog

Afterward, Finder will open a new window, where we can see the shared folders:

Finder: Shared Files

4. Conclusion

In this article, we learned how to share files between Linux and macOS. We used the Samba networking tool to easily share and access folders across these two operating systems.

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