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What is Netatalk for? What can I do with it?

Netatalk is an OpenSource software package, that can be used to turn an inexpensive *NIX machine into an extremely performant and reliable file and print server for Macintosh computers.

Using Netatalk's AFP 3.1 compliant file-server leads to significantly higher transmissions speeds compared with Macs accessing a server via SaMBa/NFS while providing clients with the best user experience (full support for Macintosh metadata, flawlessly supporting mixed environments of classic MacOS and MacOS X clients).

Due to Netatalk speaking AppleTalk, the print-server task can provide printing clients with full AppleTalk support as well as the server itself with printing capabilities for AppleTalk-only printers. Starting with version 2.0, Netatalk seamlessly interacts with CUPS on the server

After all, Netatalk can be used to act as an AppleTalk router, providing both segmentation and zone names in Macintosh networks.

I use an older Netatalk version. Should I upgrade to 2.0?

Let's have a look at what has changed compared to 1.6.4:

  1. Netatalk's file server, afpd, now speaking AFP 3.1 allows long filenames, UTF-8 names, large file support and full MacOS X compatibility
  2. The print server task, papd, can directly interact with CUPS, automagically sharing all CUPS queues
  3. Kerberos V support, allowing true "Single Sign On"
  4. Whole rework of the CNID subsystem, providing reliable and persistant storage of file and directory IDs
  5. Huge improvements regarding product documentation making Netatalk's features accessible more easily
  6. Tons of bugs fixed compared to all previous versions

To make a long story short, everyone not using symlinks inside Netatalk shares (this violation of AFP specs is not supported any longer) and willing to complete the sometimes extensive upgrade process should switch to 2.0. But be sure to read carefully the chapter about upgrading in the docs first.

I think, I found a bug in netatalk. Where should I report it?

First of all, try to isolate the problem and see whether it's not a feature instead (some of the underlying mac-related basics like file/folder IDs and the like, look irritating for people newly entering the world of cross-platform networking) Then have a look in the archives of both netatalk-admins and netatalk-devel list whether it's a known bug, already being worked on, or something special.

  1. http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=netatalk
  2. http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=netatalk-devel

If that doesn't help, consider asking the lists whether some others might have an idea what's going on (try to avoid using the SourceForge discussion forums since most experienced users and developers only monitor the mailing lists) Before asking the list, try to understand and accept the basic principles for reporting bugs and asking for help If you're finally sure you found a bug, then please report it at the SF Bugs section and post it to the netatalk-devel list as well (no list subscription required). In case, the developers want you to provide more details about crashing processes, have a look at How to use gdb.

Which CNID scheme should I choose for my volumes?

"dbd". Only in the case user homes you could consider using "cdb" instead. You can switch between those 2 CNID backends without any hassles if afpd isn't running while you're changing the backend definition in your AppleVolumes.default file.

The "last" backend is only suitable for sharing HFS CD-ROMs directly with netatalk. Avoid at all if possible as this backend can lead to duplicate IDs which can cause data loss!

Compare with the relevant chapter in the docs. [1]

I want to create a new volume to share via Netatalk. How should I start?

Always follow these steps unless you know exactly what you do:

How does Netatalk integrate with Samba?

What are the .AppleDouble and .AppleDB? directories and .Parent files which are created in the Netatalk Shares?

Why can't I mount more than one server?

How can I check the consistency of the CNID databases?

How do you use netatalk over ssh?

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