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Time Machine with OSX Lion and a Linux server

lion , ubuntu , netatalk , avahi , macosx , debian , macbookair
Jose Luis Canciani


I got my new Mac Book Air, 13", 2011, Core i7, 256GB SSD. Incredible speed and portability. And the new Mac OS Lion.

Everything worked great except... Time Machine. I have a fitPC1 ( from several years ago that I used as a File Server, SVN repo and LAMP server (among other things like torrent client). It worked great with Snow Leopard, but it was time for an upgrade.

Apparently the old version of NetATalk I had installed does not worked with Lion anymore. No new packages (of anything) were to be found for my Ubuntu 8.10. So I started with the long -but no so painful- upgrade process: 8.10 => 9.04 => 9.10 => 10.04.3 LTS (I could have made a clean install, but didn't want to reconfigure everything).

After that, I installed netatalk 2.2 from source (download at )


./configure --enable-debian 
make install


Everything default but with the debian keyword to have scripts added in my ubuntu init. Avahi daemon was already setup from my previous install, if you don't have it, see next link).

Differently from the binary package I used the first time (as mentioned here: HowTo: Make Ubuntu A Perfect Mac File Server And Time Machine Volume ), configure put my config files in /usr/local/etc/netatalk by default, so I created a symbolic link from /etc/netatalk => /usr/local/etc/netatalk and replaced/updated my old files as I see fit.

I tried to add the to the afpd.conf file, which was suggested in every forum I visited, with not so much luck. Lion saw the volumes, but kept giving me permissions errors. I had to change from cdb to dbd in the AppleVolumes.default file, and deleted all .Apple* from all directories in the shared folders just to be sure there was no conflic with the old db).

After that, everything was working but Time Machine. I could not see the drive available in the Time Machine setup screen.

I googled and googled, tried several things until I got it working. Let me make a list of what I did:
This is a coLinux tutorial (running netatalk on Windows with coLinux). It had useful scripts to configure some files. These one I used:

sed -i s/Xserve/TimeCapsule6,106/ /etc/avahi/services/afpd.service
uuid=`uuidgen | tr '[a-z]' '[A-Z]'`;mac=$(ip link show eth0 | awk '/ether/ {print $2}')
echo -e '\n\n\n\t\n\t\t_adisk._tcp\n\t\t9\n\t\tsys=waMA='$mac',adVF=0x100\n\t\tdk0=adVF=0x81,adVN=TimeMachine,adVU='$uuid'\n\t\n' >/etc/avahi/services/adisk.service
mkdir -p /media/tm # for log file
echo - -tcp -noddp -uamlist, -nosavepassword -setuplog \"default log_warn /media/tm/.afpd.log\" >>/etc/netatalk/afpd.conf
echo \"TimeMachine\" $uuid >>/etc/netatalk/afp_voluuid.conf

It still didn't work, but helped me setup several files that didn't exists. There is an "option:tm" in this tutorial that I missed (since I already had my AppleVolumes.default configured and working, so I didn't pay attention to modification of that file). It would have help me later to save some time instead of keep googling.

I kept googling and found this one: Time Machine meet Netatalk
Down there there's a simple touch that did the magic:

touch /pool/backup/time_machine/

(change /pool/backup to your time machine shared directory, in my case /mnt/seagate640).

Magically the drive appeared in Time Machine, altough not sure if after or before doing this on my macbook air:

sudo defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

I could select the disk, configure Time Machine and start the backup. But, after some seconds, I received this error: "The network backup disk does not support the required AFP features."

I kept googling until I found this newsletter: that mentioned: "Please check if you're really setting options:tm for the Time Machine volume"

That was it! I modified by AppleVolumes.default:

:DEFAULT: options:upriv,usedots
/mnt/seagate640 seagate640 allow:joe,melina cnidscheme:dbd options:usedots,upriv,tm
/var/cache/torrentflux torrentflux allow:joe,melina cnidscheme:dbd options:usedots,upriv

I added "tm" to my options and it worked! I now have my Lion backing up to my Fit-PC Ubuntu 10.04 server, with a Seagate 640GB Password drive attached.

I hope this helps someone to avoid hours googling and trying over and over again :)


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