I have an ethernet cable (not a crossover cable) to connect my laptop and my desktop ubuntu machines. I want to transfer large amounts of data. Is it possible with such a cable? I believe that between two Windows machines such a connection is possible (though I'm not totally sure).
Of course you can! Connect them with the cable, set IP addresses for each machine, for example 192.168.1.1 for your desktop and 192.168.1.2 for your notebook. Don't forget to disable/enable the connection after you set the addresses, as it may be necessary for them to become active.
Then, on one of your machines, possibly the source of the data, right click the folder you want to share, go to "Share" and enable sharing. Samba is required for this and you will be asked whether you want to install it when enabling sharing, otherwise, if it's already installed, it will just work right away. Remember to set an easy sharing name, something short and without spaces.
Now, go to the other machine, open nautilus (or any other file manager thereof) and go to location:
192.168.1.2 is the IP of the source machine where the folder is being shared.
In nautilus, you can go to this location by clicking CTRL + L and writing it to the address bar.
A direct connection between two computers is perfectly possible with a "cross cable" on any 2 computers and can be bought at any store that sells network cables. If one of the two computers is more modern, you don't even need such a cross cable and any network cable will do.
Have a look at this AskUbuntu Q&A how to set up a static IP address and set one computer to use 192.168.1.1/24 and the other to 192.168.1.2/24
Plug this cable into the Ethernet ports of both computers.
The easiest way to transfer files between computers is NitroShare as it doesn't need any infrastructure and is easy to install&use and is blindingly fast. It also runs on everything: Ubuntu, Windows, ...
To install NitroShare, use the following steps:
A small icon now shows up in the menu bar:
(do these steps on both computers)
On one computer, click the NitroShare icon and click "Send Directory" and (assuming you want to send your user's data) send Documents, Pictures, ... over one by one.
Warning! Do not send the entire
Most Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000BaseT) adapters have auto MDI/MDIX function. Therefore, if you have it installed in one computer, you can connect it with other computer using a standard Ethernet cable - its a hardware issue not a software issue.
Most modern PC's that have a gigabit ethernet port has this capability - just plug in both PC's - if they talk to each other then at least one computer has one of these ports.
Older PC's you will not be able to do this - you'll need a cross-over cable.
However, its quite easy to create one from a straight cable if you dont want to purchase one specifically.
A Crossover cable is an Ethernet cable (Cat 5, Cat 5e or Cat 6) that has pins 1, 2, 3, 6 on one end crossed to pins 3, 6, 1, 2 on the other end respectively.
Therefore if you are handy with a wire-stripper you can cross-over the correct wires.
In addition to the configuration in other answers (on setting IP addresses), I'd recommend Giver as a program to transfer stuff easily between two computers.
I will install ssh-server on ubuntu machine, and winscp on windows. Both task are trivial, and then you can Total-commander-like copy files.