Using Linux to provide Macintosh services - Page 3

 By Stew Benedict
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You have the option of mounting the shares automatically at boot, if you desire. Once the share is mounted, you should have a B&W globe and network cable icon on your desktop for the shared folder (see Figure 4). You can unmount by dropping it in the trash.

Figure 4: This icon appears on your desktop when the share is mounted.

To use the printers, select them as needed from the same Chooser menu, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Select the printer you want to use.

Other services

E-mail services are generally a given with a Linux distribution. To set up multiple mailboxes for your Macintosh users, simply create user accounts on the Linux server (which you have already done if you've set up the users for Appletalk shares) and configure the mail client software to point to the server. You can then queue up the mail on the Linux server and send/receive in batches; or, if you are connected 24/7, send the mail as it is submitted.

Web services are also a given, and with a properly configured Apache Web server, each user can have a shared Web resource on the Linux server. For a user named joemac, the resource would be under http://lserver.mydomain.com/~joemac.The user simply needs to drop a Web page named index.html in his public_html directory on the Linux fileserver, and he can have his own personal Web page.

To enable this functionality under Apache, be sure that the following lines are configured in /etc/httpd/conf/http.conf:

UserDir         public_html 
DirectoryIndex     index.html index.htm

Also be sure the public_html directory under the user's /home has the following permissions:

chmod 755  /home/joemac/public_html

By using ipchains, the Linux server can be the gateway to your Internet connection, allowing multiple users to access the Internet simultaneously through one modem, DSL, or other connection. Ipchains provides masquerading and firewalling so the client machines are protected from intruders. For an additional level of security, a second box should be set up as the firewall/gateway, so the fileserver is also insulated from the net.


Currently, Linux does not support the HFS+ filesystem used by MacOS. This is a limitation only if you are trying to access Macintosh partitions from the Linux side. For sharing Linux partitions to Macintoshes, this has no impact.

Some Macintosh hardware does not work well with PPC Linux. In particular, the following models are not recommended, due to the NuBus architecture:

  • Apple Performa/Power Mac 5200, 5300, 6200, 6300
  • Apple Power Mac 6100, 7100, 8100
  • Apple PowerBook 1400, 2300c, 5300
  • Apple Workgroup Server 7150, 8150, 9150
  • Radius 81/100
  • Power Computing's Power 100
  • All 68000, 68020, 68030, and 68040 models

Also, because Apple changes the hardware subtly with each new machine, Linux developers usually have to scramble to keep up with the latest changes. As a result, you may have to wait a few weeks for full support on a brand new machine.

Other tools

VNC stands for the opens source software package Virtual Network Computer. This is an interesting package, along the lines of PCAnywhere or Timbuktu; but it runs on several platforms, including Windows, MacOS, and Linux. This software allows a user or administrator to see and operate the desktop of a machine from a remote location across the network or the Internet. It was developed by ORL, which was subsequently bought by AT&T, but the program has remained open source. I have found it invaluable as a support tool-- it's great to be able to pull up a user's desktop and help them through a problem without having to go to their office.

VNC can be downloaded here: http://www.uk.research.att.com/vnc/. While writing this article, I used it to pull up my Macintosh desktop and do the Mac- side work while writing on my laptop, which served as the Appletalk server.



I hope this article has given you some insight as to the possibilities of integrating a Linux server into your Macintosh network. For almost no software cost, you can provide a wealth of services to your Macintosh machines, and at the same time learn a little about what the Linux hubbub is all about. If you are uncomfortable with working at the command line, Linux may take a little getting used to; but an increasing number of tools wrap some of the administration of Linux in a GUI. //

Stew Benedict is a systems administrator for an automotive manufacturer in Cleveland, Ohio. He also is a freelance consultant and running or through AYS Enterprises, a company specializing in printed circuit design, MSAccess solutions for the Windows platforms, and utilizing Linux as a low-cost alternative to commercial operating systems and software. He has been using and promoting Linux since about 1994. When not basking in the glow of a CRT, Stew enjoys time with his wife, daughter, and two dogs at his future (not too much longer!) retirement home overlooking Norris Lake in the foothills of the Smokies in Tennessee.

This article was originally published on Oct 7, 2000
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