Netatalk, Linux and the Macintosh

With Netatalk, you can drag and drop files from Linux to Mac and back, share system resources and more.

Now for the fun part—go to the Macintosh Chooser and select AppleShare as shown in Figure 4. The Linux system host name will appear on the desktop just like any other Appletalk-compatible machine on the network. There is an 8-character password limit on the Mac, so if your Linux password is more than 8 characters, change it.

Figure 4. Use the Mac Chooser to Mount the Linux File System

Netatalk Techtalk

Technically speaking, Netatalk is an implementation of the AppleTalk Protocol Suite. It contains support for EtherTalk Phase I and II, DDP, RTMP, NBP, ZIP, AEP, ATP, PAP, ASP and AFP, as shown in Figure 5. DDP is now provided by the new Linux 2.x kernel. The atalkd daemon implements RTMP, NBP, ZIP and AEP, which is the AppleTalk equivalent of Unix routed (route daemon). ATP and ASP are implemented as libraries. The papd daemon allows Macs to spool to lpd (line printer daemon), while pap allows Unix machines to print to AppleTalk connected printers. Also provided in the suite is psf, which is a PostScript printer filter for lpd designed to use pap. A PostScript reverser, psorder, is called by psf to reverse pages printed to face-up stacking printers. Last and perhaps most important is the afpd daemon that provides Macs with an interface to the Unix file system.

Figure 5. The Netatalk Stack

There are extensive and well-written man pages that accompany Netatalk, such as aecho.1, afpd.8, atalk.4, atalkd.8, atalk_aton.3, getzones.1, hqx2bin.1, macbinary.1, megatron.1, nbp.1, nbplkup.1, nbprgstr.1, nbp_name.3, pap.1, papd.8, papstatus.1, psf.8, psorder.1, single2bin.1, unbin.1, unhex.1 and unsingle.1.


Netatalk is a stable program that makes moving files between the Mac and Linux as easy as drag-and-drop. In fact, you can install Netatalk on almost any Unix-like platform and take advantage of the power it provides. Now you really can have the “power to be your best” by using both the Mac and Linux.


Richard Parry (W9IF) is currently attending the University of California, San Diego and studying computer science. He works as a software engineer at Qualcomm, Inc., known by most as the home of Eudora. His wife tells us that he spends entirely too much time with his Linux system. He can be reached via e-mail at or you can visit his home page at