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Backup, Sync and Share – Part 4: Apple Time Machine and Samba

 | June 9, 2009 9:58 pm

Mac OS X - Leopard - Disc At it’s World Wide Developer’s conference in June of 2006, Apple released a product that changed the way that a great many people think about backup: Time Machine.  While I cringe at the thought, I need to descend into the fawning adoration public relations speak that masquerades as critical coverage of Apple Products.  (Actually, forget that, here’s how Apple describes their backup system.)

Time machine is a breakthrough automatic backup that’s built right into Mac OS X.  It keeps an up-to-date copy of everything on your Mac – digital photos, music, movies, TV shows, and documents.  Now, if you ever have the need, you can easily go back in time to recover anything … Time Machine takes care of it … Automatically, in the the background.  You’ll never have to worry about backing up again.

General sarcasm and bitterness aside, Time Machine really is a spectacular piece of kit.  Sure, you can very successfully imitate a Time Machine experience using the tools within Windows Vista or Linux (or via third party tools such as Norton Ghost).  Even so, Time Machine is just just about the perfect combination of simple, powerful, and integrated.  And like most Apple products, when used within the Apple eco-system is  a lovely experience.

However, if you migrate too far out of the walled garden, Time Machine isn’t quite so nice to work with.  Actually, it can be a bit demanding and temperamental.  For example, it requires its own formatted hard drive or the ready availability of a specialized Apple router (called a TimeCapsule).  Alternatively, it can be a bit flaky; when I was backing up to a local hard drive, it would often quit with an indecipherable error.   Luckily, however, these limitations are pretty easy to overcome.  In this article, I will look briefly at how to setup Time Machine so that it works with a simple home server running Samba and Subversion.

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