In 2018 I got a flashy new MacBook Pro. Using the macOS integrated backup solution Time Machine I wanted to build an open source Apple Time Capsule.
Apple Mac OSX doesn’t allow you to use a network share as a backup location.
The steps described below are tested on Debian Stretch but might also work on other Debian based distributions like Ubuntu.

Step 1

Netatalk, the open source deployment of Apple Filling Protocol (AFP) has to be installed.

sudo apt-get install netatalk libc6-dev avahi-daemon libnss-mdns

Step 2

Edit the hosts line in /etc/nsswitch.conf with the editor of your choice. I am using vi. sudo vi /etc/nsswitch.conf The line should be adjusted as followed:

hosts:          files mdns4_minimal [NOTFOUND=return] dns mdns4 mdns

Step 3

Create the file /etc/avahi/services/afpd.service

sudo vi /etc/avahi/services/afpd.service

and fill it with this content:

<?xml version="1.0" standalone='no'?><!--*-nxml-*-->
<!DOCTYPE service-group SYSTEM "avahi-service.dtd">
    <name replace-wildcards="yes">%h</name>

Step 4

Now add the shares for the backups. Edit /etc/netatalk/AppleVolumes.default and add the parameter tm. sudo vi /etc/netatalk/AppleVolumes.default I have created a timemachine share for my wife and I.

# The line below sets some DEFAULT, starting with Netatalk 2.1.
:DEFAULT: options:upriv,usedots,tm
# By default all users have access to their home directories.
/mnt/timemachine/paul "TimeMachine Paul"
/mnt/timemachine/helen "TimeMachine Helen"
# End of File

Step 5

Finally, Netatalk has to be adjusted. sudo vi /etc/default/netatalk Edit the folowing variables:


Now just restart the services for Netatalk and Avahi.

systemctl restart netatalk.service
systemctl restart avahi-daemon.service

Final notes

Each user must be a real user on your linux server (i.e. useradd paul ). You may have to create and change ownership of the directories (i.e. mkdir -p /mnt/timemachine/paul && chown paul:paul /mnt/timemachine/paul ). Now you should be able to access the shares from timemachine.

1 Comment


I’ve just rebuilt this using Ubuntu Focal (2020 release) and this file /etc/netatalk/AppleVolumes.default is no longer used

Instead I have this file /etc/netatalk/afp.conf
Looks like this:

; Netatalk 3.x configuration file

; Global server settings

path = /mnt/data-volume/Timemachine/paul
time machine = yes

also note, on my Macbook (client) I have to run this command

defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

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