Sans-BS Guide to Folder and File Sharing in Linux Mint.
Sharing folders and files in Linux Mint is a simple affair but sometimes the option to right-click and share a folder isn’t present or doesn’t work. Fret not for it’s an easy fix. If you’ve ever installed Linux and your computers are able to access the Internet then you can do this and you’re almost there.
First, a little background. Samba is a networking protocol that allows file and print sharing across a network. It’s also cross-platform, allowing sharing of files across most operating system. It’s part of the default installation of Linux Mint. You can confirm this protocol is installed by opening your Synaptic Package Manager and typing ‘samba’ in the search bar. If not, install it now. It needs to be installed on both client and server machines.
On the machine with files to be shared (aka your Server), install the samba sharing extension for your file browser. If you’re on Mint with the Mate desktop, this would be the Caja file manager. In Synaptic Package Manager, search for caja-share and install it. Restart the machine, navigate to the folder you wish to share, right-click > Sharing Options. It’s self explanatory from there but do limit access if your machine will be on a public LAN. (Cafe, school, work, IRS waiting room, etc.)
If you have a software firewall running on your server either disable it or add a rule to allow Samba. Using Synaptic, get the GUFW (GUI for Uncomplicated Fire Wall) application. It’s a GUI for the firewall that comes with Linux Mint and makes configuration easy. Launch it from the Control Center, click Rules, click the + sign and scroll down to Samba. Click OK.
On your other computer (aka the client), open Caja and select Browse network. Your server should appear, in some cases within the ‘Windows Network’ sub-folder. Double-click to connect and enter login credentials if you specified any during the share process, otherwise use ‘connect anonymously’.
That’s it. You’re now free to move files from one PC to another and make more copies of stuff than you can keep track of. Samba shares created in Linux Mint are readable (and writeable if you allowed it) in Windows XP, Windows 10, Mac OS-X and other operating systems, allowing you to make a huge network mess if desired.
FAQs & WTFs:
If you’re having difficulty finding the server from a client, try the following:
- Determine your server’s IP address by right-clicking the Network Connection > Connection Information. (It’s in the taskbar.)
- On the client, open Computer (or otherwise launch the Caja file manager)
- Click ‘File’ then ‘Connect to Server’ where Server = IP address of the server and Type = Windows Share.
Other file managers such as Nautilus and Nemo have similar folder sharing extensions. You can view the extensions you have installed in Caja by clicking Edit > Preferences > Extensions.
Assuming you’re behind a router/firewall (Cisco, Netgear, etc.) none of these LAN shares will be visible from the outside Internet. You’ll need to configure your router for that, and there are more secure ways to transfer files remotely.
If for bizarre and unexplainable reasons the sharing extension for your file manager isn’t playing nice (or there isn’t one available) there’s a application called Samba Server Configuration (available in Synaptic) that will create and manage Samba shares. If you use it, you’ll need to set permissions for the shared folder, where caja-share does this for you. Well … caja-share is supposed to set folder permissions, but sometimes it doesn’t. If that happens, right-click the folder > Properties > Permissions.
If you’ve read this far and it’s still not working, confirm your network functionality. Determine the server IP address and try to ping it from your client. If you’re getting a response then your network and TCP/IP is functioning and the problem is more likely firewall, permissions or missing Samba files. There are many helpful people on the Linux Mint Forums that can help you troubleshoot a problem.