Ubuntu as an Apple Time Machine capsule with Netatalk 3

In 2016 I wrote "Apple's TimeMachine now works with Samba SMB2. Apple also is moving to depreciate AFP which was the previously underpinned TimeMachine" Fast forward to 2020 - what a year:

  • I have finally upgraded from Ubuntu 16.04 LTS > 20.04 LTS
  • Samba was never really hugely reliable for TimeMachine in my experience
  • Netatalk is still around now at version 3
  • MacOS I'm running is High Sierra (no Catalina yet) and still has AFP

Tl;DR here is how to set up Time Machine capsule on Ubuntu upgrading to Netatalk 3, from Netatalk 2.

1. AppleVolumes.default has been depreciated


/pathtotimemachinebackupfolder/ "TimeMachineUsername" allow:YourUser cnidscheme:dbd options:upriv,tm,usedots

has been replaced by:



; Netatalk 3.x configuration file

; Global server settings

 basedir regex = /home

; [My AFP Volume]
; path = /path/to/volume

 path = /pathtotimemachinebackupfolder 
 time machine = yes
 valid users = YourUser
; cnid scheme = 
 unix priv = yes

upriv is now enabled by default and does not need to be explicitly set, I set unix priv = yes and that seems fine
usedots is now enabled by default and does not need to be explicitly set
dbd as cnid scheme doesn't seem to be required, currently I am running without cnid scheme set as the default for netatalk 3 is dbd, I'll see how that works out. I was previously using cbd but I experience occasional catastrophic corruption requiring a complete new back up to be generated from time to time.

Per netatalk 3 docs:
cdbThe "concurrent database" backend is based on Berkeley DB. With this backend, several afpd daemons access the CNID database directly. Berkeley DB locking is used to synchronize access, if more than one afpd process is active for a volume. The drawback is, that the crash of a single afpd process might corrupt the database. cdb should only be used when sharing home directories for a larger number of users and it has been determined that a large number of cnid_dbd processes is problematic.

dbdAccess to the CNID database is restricted to the cnid_dbd daemon process. afpd processes communicate with the daemon for database reads and updates. The probability for database corruption is practically zero.This is the default backend since Netatalk 2.1.

2. afpd.dconf has been depreciated



- -transall -uamlist uams_randnum.so,uams_dhx2.so -nosavepassword -advertise_ssh 

Not sure what it was replaced by... but everything is working after creating afp.conf so I am not worrying.

3. Debug

On the Mac High Sierra, the following command was helpful for debugging what Time Machine was doing underneath:

log stream --style syslog  --predicate 'senderImagePath contains[cd] "TimeMachine"' --info

On the server Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, the following command was helpful for debugging:

journalctl -u netatalk.service -b


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