Is there anything in Linux that implements whatever it is that makes Airdrop in OS X work? I'm not really familiar with that program, so I'm not sure what protocol it's using to communicate. update Specifically I'm looking for a program(s) that if I fired them up, I'd be able to receive and send files to an OS X machine, like I was using Airdrop. (this may be like needing samba to network with windows)

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    For obvious reasons, I doubt there's anything that targets only Apple devices, as Airdrop appears to do. But there are DLNA servers and clients available for linux, OSX/iOS, and pretty much everything else.
    – goldilocks
    Apr 18, 2014 at 16:07
  • Airdrop does not use DLNA. Avahi provides the Bonjour service - I do not know about the application specific code. Apr 18, 2014 at 23:01
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    It seems that does not exists a client that "reverse engineered" the AirDrop protocol so, the best you could do is to use a replacement that is multiplatform like code.google.com/p/transfer-on-lan - Another interesting thread about implementing airdrop: stackoverflow.com/questions/10693411/…
    – user34720
    Apr 25, 2014 at 20:27
  • Your title and body don't match. Are you looking for something that interoperates with Airdrop or do you just want a solution that solves a similar purpose? Jan 18, 2015 at 12:01

3 Answers 3


I'm not 100% familiar with Airdrop but in looking at the Wikipedia page on the topic it essentially sounds like a file sharing (P2P) without having to have an access point in the mix. Basically 2 WiFi clients can share files among each other.

To that end there are 2 options listed at the bottom of that same Wikipedia page.

The first looks to basically be an Android only option:

shoutr is a mobile application which allows users to transfer data of any kind between Android powered devices. What is unique about shoutr is that it works without an internet connection or pre-existing network infrastructure. All that is needed are two or more Android devices equipped with Wi-Fi technology. All data sent with shoutr is protected by WPA2 encryption.

The technology behind shoutr is based on the WiFi capability built into the respective Android device. This is used to connect devices directly: One device opens up a WiFi hotspot; other devices connect to it and get the data - this does not need a WiFi hotspot around.1

The second option however looked to be promising.

Wi-Fi Direct, initially called Wi-Fi P2P, is a Wi-Fi standard that enables devices to connect easily with each other without requiring a wireless access point and to communicate at typical Wi-Fi speeds for everything from file transfer to Internet connectivity. One advantage of Wi-Fi Direct is the ability to connect devices even if they are from different manufacturers. Only one of the Wi-Fi devices needs to be compliant with Wi-Fi Direct to establish a peer-to-peer connection that transfers data directly between each other with greatly reduced setup.

Digging into the technology it would appear to already be included in the wireless capabilities of the Linux kernel. There's a link off of the Information for Developers portion of the Wireless Linux website. The link's titled: P2P / Wi-Fi Direct includes links to a howto, as well as a overview of the stack and the API.

I would start with the howto. It covers how to get download the hostap git tree which you need to get an appropriate version of wpa_supplicant.

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    you've pretty much nailed what it does, but it's more complicated than just a filesharing protocol - it does discovery of other computers, using Bonjour (zeroconf; the GNU/Linux implementation of which is Avahi) and maybe some other magic.
    – strugee
    Apr 20, 2014 at 5:24
  • @strugee - yeah I'd never heard of this before. I was going purely off of the Wikipedia page and trying to provide more depth than what was there, wrt the p2p piece anyways.
    – slm
    Apr 20, 2014 at 5:27
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    yeah, I figured. for someone who hasn't used OS X before it's a pretty decent explanation. I think xeno was looking for a drop-in program to talk AirPlay, and (having looked into this) as far as I can tell there is none. knowing Apple, some or most of the protocol would have to be reverse-engineered.
    – strugee
    Apr 20, 2014 at 6:24
  • for varying defintions of drop in... samba isn't exactly the only part needed for drop in on windows network sharing, but yeah, something I could use to basically do that. I of course, assume(d) that /someone/ is working on such a thing, though perhaps no one is. Apr 20, 2014 at 15:53
  • According to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi_Direct, "By March 2016, no iPhone device implements Wi-Fi Direct; instead, iOS has its own proprietary feature." Perhaps support was discontinued since the answer was written?
    – Kurt Peek
    Feb 13, 2017 at 13:38

Despite this post being a bit old, this might still help someone.

Here's a free AirPort implementation : https://github.com/juhovh/shairplay

Not sure if this will actually help you get AirDrop working with an Apple device, though.

However, here's a multiplatform - browser / WebRTC based - alternative that works well for small files (as far as I tested it) : https://www.sharedrop.io/

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    That AirPort implementation is just imagem implementing AirPlay (sound) Oct 18, 2017 at 8:01
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    Oh, right! I guess that's when you notice that I'm not a big macos user ;-)
    – Danyright
    Oct 19, 2017 at 13:19

The protocol behind AirDrop is AWDL. There is now an open AWDL imlementation called OWL, as well as an AirDrop-compatible linux command-line tool called OpenDrop. See https://owlink.org/code/.

  • This is the correct answer.
    – daviewales
    Mar 19, 2021 at 11:48

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