I have two Macs that I'd like to start backing up using Time Machine, but all of my storage is attached to my Linux file server.

How can I use my Linux file server (which happens to be running Ubuntu Karmic) as a custom Time Capsule replacement, and have my Macs (running 10.6) automatically back up to it using Time Machine?

And lastly, is this wise? Is there any inherent risk in doing this that compromises the whole point of the backup?

3 Answers 3


There are a few hack-ish options out there, see here, and here.

But I certainly wouldn't do it. This is a hack, it's not supported by apple in anyway and there is no guarantee that the next OS X update won't break it and if it does you're stuck with your backups in a network share that is pretty much useless at that point; perhaps if you only need the initial backup you'll make do, but remember that time machine backups are incremental, you are very likely not to be able to restore the latest version of your data.

With some bash $voodoo you might be able to pull it off (getting the initial backup, looking at time stamps, merging...)

From my point of view you have two options: you either stick with the apple supported solution, may that be local drives for time machine or investing on a time capsule, or you find another way to backup your two macs to your linux server avoiding time machine all together.

and on that last note I know a lot of people who swear by superduper, and for many years I've used iBackup which is in reality a glorified GUI for rsync and that gives me some comfort.

  • Thanks for the alternate tool recommendations. I'll have to decide if I want to buy a drive specifically for Time Machine or use on of these other tools. Do you happen to know if Time Machine will let my Macbook back up a hard drive that is always connected to my iMac?
    – Sandy
    Aug 18, 2010 at 21:38
  • 1
    nope, unless you have a timecapsule time machine has no idea what networking is. so if your idea is to share that iMac drive and mount it on the macbook, it won't work.
    – Sygo
    Aug 19, 2010 at 17:24
  • So, this is actually incorrect, I've found out. Time Machine over AFP is supported, as long as the machine serving AFP is running OS X. For details, see: docs.info.apple.com/article.html?path=Mac/10.6/en/15139.html . You don't have to enable any secret preferences; it works out-of-the-box (I just tried it).
    – Sandy
    Aug 20, 2010 at 4:23
  • very good find! glad you got it working, too!
    – Sygo
    Aug 20, 2010 at 16:03

Totally unsupported -you gotta pay the Apple tax otherwise- but perfectly doable:


  • 1
    +1 for this. My home NAS (the QNAP 239) has built-in support for TimeMachine based on the same solution! It works really sweet, and MacOS detected the timemachine drive without any problems.
    – vdboor
    Aug 19, 2010 at 20:53

Keep in mind that (afaik), TimeMachine relies on directory hardlinks.

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