File sharing

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If you want to make files and directories available to other computers on your network, Mepis and Linux can handle a large variety of networking protocols to allow this. Many people accustomed to Windows may be confused by the variety of file sharing protocols and not understand why there are so many when windows simply allows you to "share" files without much rigmarole. Being open, though, Linux allows you to choose the protocol that best suits your needs. There are many ways to approach file sharing, but the the most common for typical home users will be SAMBA although there are choices outlined below.



SAMBA is installed in MEPIS by default and is also the protocol used by Windows machines (although Windows calls it SMB/CIFS). SAMBA is the most complete solution to share files with Windows machines on your network without making changes to the windows machines. SAMBA can also be used by many network media players and Network-attached storage (NAS) devices. SAMBA also offers some other services for interfacing with Windows networks, such as domain authentication, messaging services, and netbios name resolution.


  • Looks and acts just like a windows file share to clients.
  • Has lots of Windows networking features beyond file sharing (Domain authentication, windows messaging service, netbios names, print sharing, etc.)
  • Very flexible and configurable


  • Can be confusing to set up on the server side, because some of the terminology is different
  • Security can be weird, since Windows clients are not all consistent in how they deal with security

For more technical info: See the SAMBA home page or Samba Wikipedia entry



This is the standard Unix protocol for sharing files. Many feel it is better than Samba for sharing files, and it can be used with Windows (2000 & XP) machines if you install "Services for Unix" or a third-party NFS client on them.


  • More mature and stable than Samba for Linux / Unix servers.
  • Simpler and less cumbersome than Samba


  • Windows clients require extra configuration
  • Terminology somewhat different from what Windows users are used to


This is a pretty new protocol that requires some additional installation on Mepis (at least for the client). It is a mountable filesystem protocol implemented using SSH, so it is encrypted and only requires that the server be running SSH.


  • Server only needs to be running SSHD -- nothing else to set up.
  • All transmissions encrypted for security


  • Requires extra setup on the client -- modules need to be compiled, permissions set up, folders mounted, etc.
  • Hard to control what user has access to; anything they can access locally is available over the network.
  • Cannot setup "anonymous" shares. (?) (At least not without a major security compromise).
  • Forget about using this with Windows clients. No, just forget it.

KDE file server

This is a kicker applet (package: kfs) which allows you to very easily share files over HTTP. That is, you can access the files remotely using a web-browser. This is best when you just want to make files available for download to any kind of client OS.


  • Extremely easy to set up
  • Clients only need a web browser


  • Files can only be accessed through a web browser; shares can't be mounted or accessed through a file dialog.
  • Each share requires opening another port; may be extra work if you are running a firewall.
  • Requires KDE (?) (so, you can't use it on a "headless" server very well).


This is a very old protocol that still enjoys common use and support. It does not have all the features of other protocols and is somewhat insecure, but is a good choice if you are going to share files out to the internet and you have a wide variety of client OS's.


  • Mature protocol, widely recognized.
  • Most OS's (including Windows) come with ftp clients built in. (On windows, IE is a passable ftp client).
  • Can be set up for anonymous sharing or secured sharing


  • Not very secure for use on the internet (passwords sent in plain text)
  • Not very flexible for sharing out multiple unrelated folders
  • Setup can be a bit of a challenge for newbies
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