In Ubuntu 14.04 I need to copy from a Mac over an ethernet LAN (through a router, both computers connected by ethernet cable). I want to copy files from the Mac HD to an internal ext4 drive mounted in the Ubuntu 14.04 machine. The Mac is running share as FTP and SMB. I can connect to the Mac and navigate to the folders / files. I can copy individual files but if I try to copy folders I get an error in Ubuntu "Error while copying XXX", and under 'show more details' it just says "is a directory".

How can I copy whole directories and subdirectories? I think that I should be able to do this in the GUI and not resort to command line, its seems a fairly obvious and simple thing that the system should be able to do.

Thanks for any help.



I would recommend installing the ssh service on the Ubuntu box and then on your Mac, you can either use Cyberduck (or some other SFTP client) to transfer files, or even better, fire up Terminal on your Mac, navigate to the directory containing the files you want to copy and use scp to copy the files to the desired folder on the Ubuntu box as such:

scp -r path_to_files_to_copy user@ubuntuserverIP:path_to_external_drive
  • This works very well. I am capable of using command line (just) but I had hoped to avoid this. On my old Ubuntu netbook (10.x) I could easily connect to my mac on ftp through a file manager window.. doesn't seem to work anymore. Its interesting you say to use SFTP, I have always found that slower than FTP. Thanks for the solution anyway.. files and folder structure happily transfering now. – suze1992 Oct 17 '15 at 6:03

SMB is Windows Share which means that you probably have to comply with the Windows file name restrictions, even if both ends don't have these restrictions.

An easy solution should be to tar these files up (or use 7zip if you want compression), to send them over the network, and then to extract them again. Another advantage of 7zip over tar is that you can you can split the archives up into several junks, so you can start transmitting before everything is packed, and you only have to resend part of it, if the transmission fails (SMB will probably fail, it's not very stable).

When naming the archive, don't use any of these characters: \ (backslash) : (colon) * (asterisk) ? (Question mark) " (quote) < (less than) > (greater than) and | (pipe) and please only use printable characters since Microsoft probably wouldn't declare if non-printable characters didn't work.


Sorry, maybe I am sidetracking, but... I have never been able to reliably configure Samba :) FTP is insecure and very slow, so you should avoid it entirely.

The best way to connect two computers, in my opinion, is SSH.

SSH does have a mode that is called SFTP, which allows you to interact with files in a very natural way. In linux, most of the file managers embed an stfp protocol, so you can interact with such a service by typing sftp://remote-username@remote-ip-address/

To connect to your Mac, you will need to enable the SFTP server. I found a few (old) guides, I can't test them now, but you should get the idea:

If you want to access Linux from the Mac, you will need to configure the ssh server first. Macs don't have a built-in client for SFTP but you can easily install a tool like Cyberduck. Or if you want to get fancy, you can install MacFuse, which will enable to to mount a remote SFTP folder and manage it via finder.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.