Japanese Version UK mirror

Linux Netatalk-HOWTO

Last updated: October 5, 1998
by Anders Brownworth

Netatalk is a program which lets your Unix box look like an Appletalk fileserver on a LAN. This document is intended as a guide to help the Linux system administrator set up netatalk Appletalk services on a Linux box. Linux is a freely distributable POSIX compliant U*ix for 386, 486, Pentium, PowerMacintosh, Sun and DEC Alpha hardware as well as several other experimental platforms. (SGI, etc...) Netatalk is a program which exports a piece of the Unix filesystem via the appletalk protocol. Using Netatalk, Macintosh computers can mount Unix volumes as if they were standard Appletalk network drives.

Netatalk is brought to you by our friends at The Research Systems Unix Group, The University of Michigan. netatalk@umich.edu

Hugh Dixon is running the UK mirror of the Netatalk-HOWTO and Horie Seiichi is mantaining a Japanese version of this document.

I have started a Netatalk Counter which you should fill out after your setup is completed. With your help, we can get an idea of how Netatalk is being used. Note: this is for non-linux installs also!

Comments and corrections are very welcome. Someone had sent me a diff of my pages correcting my horrible spelling, and I proceeded to blow away my mailbox by mistake, so if you're out there, please resend that! I If you have problems, usually a good place to post them is to the appropriate Netatalk list.

Lately there has been quite a bit of talk about Redhat install issues. If you are installing under RedHat, take a look at the tips page and a note on the Other Topics section.

Want to know who's logged on a netatalk server? Try nu.

Before you begin:

What you need:

What you will do:

(If you were wondering why I have you compile a kernel after you install netatalk, it's because kernel 1.2.* users patch that kernel's appletalk support during "install netatalk" with the kinstall rule which has since been taken out of the netatalk package as the kernel 1.3.* and higher appletalk implimentations don't need patching.)

Get and decompress the netatalk source code

  1. Get a copy of the latest source code. (you may be interested in a shoot-off distribution called netatalk-asun which supports AppleTalk IP among other newer features.)

  2. Put the source code where you want to unpack it

  3. Decompress the source code. Type:

    gzip -d netatalk-1.3.3.tar.gz

  4. Unpack the distribution. Type:

    tar -xvf netatalk-1.3.3.tar

Netatalk and Kernel Specific Setup

Configure the netatalk source code

Note: If you want to build for the Andrew File System, there are things you need to do before continuing. Please refer to the README.AFS document in the source distribution.
  1. Set up paths. Edit your Makefile to reflect the install path and the man path. In Makefile, edit the line:


    to reflect where you want netatalk to install all it's files. Edit the line:


    to reflect where you want netatalk to install it's man pages. I set my MANDIR like this:


    (it's really saying the same thing as before)

  2. If you have a system running shadow passwords (such as a RedHat system) you will need to add -DSHADOWPW to etc/afpd/Makefile.

Compile the netatalk program

  1. In your netatalk directory, type:


    This will make all netatalk binaries. Make sure you get through all of the compilation without a fatal error. Fatal errors mean things didn't compile for one reason or another. Don't just continue. Go back and try to figure out what went wrong.

Install the netatalk program

  1. In your netatalk directory, type:

    make install

    This will install netatalk in the DESTDIR which you set in the Makefile.

Note: make install does not install the configuration files necessary to run netatalk.

Compile a kernel with appletalk services

Note: Many Linux distributions with a 2.0 kernel (such as Debian Linux) contain precompiled appletalk support, so you may not need to do this. Check your configuration with a make menuconfig from the /usr/src/linux/ directory.
Note: You need to have TCP/IP up and running also on the network card you plan to use for Appletalk because kernel Appletalk support doesn't contain all the framing code necessary to run Appletalk alone.
You should really have experience compiling a kernel. If you don't, look through your Kernel-HOWTO docs. (usually at /usr/doc/faq/howto/Kernel-HOWTO.gz in Slackware Linux. Look at it with the command: zless /usr/doc/faq/howto/Kernel-HOWTO.gz)

  1. Goto your linux source root directory (usually /usr/src/linux)

  2. Type make config (or make menuconfig, pick your poison..)

  3. Answer the questions corrosponding to your setup.
    • Be sure to answer yes to Configure AppleTalk DDP support? [n]
    • With older kernels (pre 1.3.*), you need IEEE802.2 support. Answer yes to Configure IPX support [n] as the IPX package includes IEEE802.2 interface support. (later 1.3.* kernel distributions do not require this as later 1.3.* kernel sources include IEEE802.2 support in their appletalk)

  4. Do a make dep; make clean to set up your source code for compile.

  5. Make a new kernel. If you haven't done this before, consult your Kernel-HOWTO docs. Kernels are made with differient commands depending on what result you want. (When I compile, I use the command make zImage.)

    Note:You can build appletalk support as a module if you like.
  6. Copy your old kernel somewhere just incase the new kernel you just compiled decides to hate you and grind to a screaching halt!

  7. Install your new kernel and reboot your system on it. WARNING!! If you messed something up, your system will not come up! Consult your HOWTO docs for kernel installation.

Configure the options

Note: This document concerns itself with Appletalk file services. I do not go into the various print options. You will notice the print options commented out in the examples. Mike Pearson and Bill McGonigle have prepared a page on printing.

  1. Make yourself an atalkd.conf file. In the netatalk source directory under etc/atalkd you will find a file called etc.atalkd.conf. Usually this file gets edited and copied to your netatalk DESTDIR/etc (/usr/local/atalk/etc) directory and renamed atalkd.conf. Instructions and examples on how to edit the atalkd.conf file are available.

  2. Make yourself an AppleVolumes.default and an AppleVolumes.system file. These files tell the system which directories to offer as Appleshare volumes. In the netatalk source directory under etc/afpd you will find two a files called etc.AppleVolumes.default and etc.AppleVolumes.system. Usually these files get edited and copied to your netatalk DESTDIR/etc (/usr/local/atalk/etc) directory and renamed AppleVolumes.default and AppleVolumes.system respectively. Instructions and examples on how to edit these files are available.

  3. (if you were setting up the printing options, you would do so here.)

  4. Edit your /etc/services file to include the following Appletalk services:

    rtmp 1/ddp # Routing Table Maintenance Protocol

    nbp 2/ddp # Name Binding Protocol

    echo 4/ddp # AppleTalk Echo Protocol

    zip 6/ddp # Zone Information Protocol

    The /etc/services file tells your computer what service to use when network requests go in or out.

    If you are using NIS (network information system, or YP), don't add these lines to the services file. Add them to your NIS master machine's maps and push them.

  5. In your source distribution, edit your rc.atalk script to launch your Appletalk services. Here's what I use:


    echo 'Starting Appletalk fileserver...'


    echo -n 'atalkd'

    ${ATALKDIR}/bin/nbprgstr -p 4 `hostname|sed 's/\..*$//'`:Workstation

    ${ATALKDIR}/bin/nbprgstr -p 4 `hostname|sed 's/\..*$//'`:netatalk

    echo -n ' nbprgstr'


    echo ' afpd.'

    Note: It is important not to launch any of these services in the background as their network data structures need time to stablize.

  6. Set Appletalk services to automagically start when the system is rebooted. In the source distribution directory, move the rc.atalk file to your /etc/rc.d directory and make it executable. (chmod 755 /etc/rc.d/rc.atalk) In your /etc/rc.d directory, edit the file rc.local to launch the rc.atalk script. Add the following line to your rc.local:


  7. In order for someone to mount the volumes you have created on your Linux box, they need to have a valid shell account on the Linux system. AppleShare limits passwords to 8 characters, so you want to add users to your Linux system with 8 character or less passwords. A valid shell account means that somthing like /bin/sh or /bin/tcsh is at the end of that user's entry in the /etc/passwd file. If you just pipe to /dev/null the user will not be able to login. Root logins are prohibited by netatalk, and for good reason. Just don't!

Start up the server

Assuming everything has been installed and configured correctly, you should have no problem turning on Appletalk services.

  1. Fire up Appletalk server. In your /etc/rc.d directory, run the script rc.atalk. Now sit back and wait a minute or so as the system checks out the network and sets itself up. The rc.atalk script will normally be run at system boot time.

Mount your new volume on the Mac

Now we get to have some fun!

  1. Move over to a Macintosh connected to the ethernet.

  2. Go to the Chooser from the Apple Menu.

  3. Click on the little hand holding a platter. (Appleshare services) Note: Appletalk must be active to do this. If it's not active, click the little button Active on Restart and restart the machine. If it still doesn't show up, the Mac may be listening to it's LocalTalk port rather than the EtherTalk port. To fix this, go to the Networks control pannel and click on EthetTalk, then try the Chooser again.

  4. Login to the Appleshare server using a valid username on your Unix system. If the Unix user you logged in as doesn't have permission to write in the exported directory, the Appleshare volume will mount as read-only. (this is granted this user has read privilages!) If you change directory permissions after a volume is mounted, you will have to throw away the volume and re-mount it for afpd to re-read the permissions. (afpd reads directory and file permissions every time the volume gets mounted)

  5. You should see your Unix workstation in the window to the right. Double click it and it should give you the volumes you made available in your AppleVolumes.system and AppleVolumes.default files.

  6. Click on the volumes you want to mount. (Shift click will give you more than one)

  7. Click OK and smile with wide-eyed wonder as your Linux volumes are now available on your Macintosh! WooHoo!! (Homer Simpson inuendo)

  8. To unmount a mounted server, throw it in the trash. Don't worry, this won't delete the volume! (slight metaphoric inaccuracy on Apple's part ;)

Other stuff

I'm looking for a job, so if you can help, it would be greatly appreciated.

If this little guide has been helpfull with your installation, please drop me a note stating so. I'd like to find out if all the work I've put into this project has helped anyone out. If you wish to thank me, you may do so best by asking around to see if there are any old Silicon Graphics workstations that are unused. I would be very interested in removing them as I'm fostering a collection of antiquities. ;) Thanks!

This page mantained by Anders Brownworth. Copyright © 1997