Trashing macOS Server: Extra 1 - Revisiting Time Machine

I mentioned in my post about Time Machine that Samba 4.8 supports Time Machine, but that it wasn’t available on Ubuntu 16.04, so I went with Time Machine over AFP using Netatalk. After months of backing up over AFP, I started having some problems with backups becoming corrupt.

This story is part of a series on migrating from macOS Server to Ubuntu Server.

You can find all of the other stories in the series here.

The Problem

After a while of backing up 3 computers to my server over AFP, one of the computers began showing a message saying that Time Machine had verified my backup and that it had to make a new backup. Once this message was shown, it refused to back up.

I found myself consulting a StackExchange post and a few blog posts, and after combining a few fixes, my computer happily began backing up again.

Within a month or so, it happened again. I fixed it again. Then a different computer began showing the same message. Obviously there was a problem, and I didn’t feel like fsck-ing all my backups on a monthly basis until 2020 when Samba 4.8 would arrive for Ubuntu LTS.

I felt like it would be a good idea to try Time Machine over SMB with Samba, but I wasn’t about to fiddle with the Samba installation that handles all my shared files.

A Dedicated Time Machine Server

When all of this was happening, Ubuntu 18.10 was available, and it had Samba 4.8. I decided to spin up a new VM that would be only for Time Machine backups (and Windows File History for the one Windows machine on the network). Setup for this was pretty similar to setting up Samba for my shared files. Really, only one config change was needed:

sudo EDITOR /etc/samba/smb.conf

  comment = Time Machine Backups
  path = /media/NetworkBackup/Time Machine
  fruit:time machine = yes

[File History]
  comment = Windows File History
  path = /media/NetworkBackup/File History

The global config for this server is the same as what I have for my file shares. The only difference for Time Machine is setting fruit:time machine = yes on the share that hosts Time Machine backups.


That’s it! Samba has been working much better for my Time Machine backups, insofar as they haven’t started becoming corrupt spontaneously. I knew I’d have to make this change eventually, I was just expecting to do it with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

See also