I have this special orange ethernet cable I bought a few years ago that's supposed to have reversed wires to allow two computers to be hooked together.

I have 3 internal drives and one external USB HDD attached to my main Laptop but the picture I'm looking for might be on the older laptop. Can I plug it into the USB hub and access files off it's 1 TB HDD?

The master laptop has Ubuntu 14.04 on one drive and Ubuntu 16.04 on another drive. The slave laptop has Ubuntu 14.04 (and Windows Vista 64-bit but I won't say that).

What do I need to do to make a mini-network as it were with the resources at hand? Of course they both have wifi too. The simplest answer would be appreciated because I'm IP challenged and can barely spell SSID.

This is not a duplicate of "sharing a folder over a network". What I want to do is plug a laptop into mine and control the HDD as if it were /dev/sdd or /dev/sde.

  • 3
    Possible duplicate of How to share files through the local network?
    – user68186
    Sep 6, 2016 at 2:30
  • @user68186 your link to a duplicate contains a link to a duplicate. In either case this isn't about folder sharing, it's about plugging one laptop (called a slave) into another (called a master) making it's hard drive appear as /dev/sdd or /dev/sde with full ownership rights to the Master, given up by the Slave. Alternatively I could simply unplug the HDD and stick it in a USB enclosure for the same result. Sep 6, 2016 at 2:41
  • @user68186 I appreciate how you can share folders and their sub-directories after setting up permissions and whatnot but I was seeking to gain access to the entire HDD as if it were /dev/sde like any other drive on the computer. It takes a couple of minutes to open the slave laptop and stick the drive into a USB enclosure and plug it into the master laptop. Setting up a home network takes much longer which I was trying to avoid. I appreciate the folder sharing advise but I mislead you when I said "plug one Ubuntu Latop into antoher Ubuntu Laptop". Sep 6, 2016 at 2:57
  • 1
    First of all, you should learn to distinguish a USB cable from an Ethernet (crossover or patch) cable before talking about what's possible with it.
    – Byte Commander
    Oct 9, 2016 at 1:47
  • @ByteCommander I bought it off ebay in 2014/2015 and never checked if it was RJ-45 jack or not. I just remembered it was an orange cross over cable. As it were the newly accept answer (in last 30 seconds) states it must be Ethernet cross-over. Oct 9, 2016 at 1:56

2 Answers 2


Yes you can

The orange Ethernet cable is a crossover cable. The purpose is to create an Internet of just two computers. Assuming the two laptops have Ethernet ports, you can do that.

Note: You don't need a special crossover cable with any recently built computers. Any standard Ethernet cable will do. The Ethernet sockets are now smart enough to connect two computers directly with a regular Ethernet cable.

Since the two laptops are not setup to dynamically assign IP addresses to the other, (something normally done by routers) you will have to setup static IP addresses for both. You can do this in the Network Manager.

Once you got the local networking figured out, you can use various ways to access either specific folders, or mount partitions.

  1. To mount a partition (or partitions) see Network File System and Setting up NFS: How to.
  2. To share a folder within your home folder, see the Ubuntu to Ubuntu part of this answer.

Hope this helps

  • Thanks for telling me it's ethernet and not USB, that's a big help. That takes care of the physical transport layer, and as you say I have to assign IP addresses for the Network transport layer, what do I do about the actual application transport layer of browsing and copying files via Nautilus? Sep 6, 2016 at 2:48
  • 1
    Your edited answer is promising with reference to "server guide NFS". I'll study up on that tomorrow. Thank you very much. Sep 6, 2016 at 3:00
  • With two laptops, the crossover cable is probably optional -- a regular cable will likely work just fine. The ports have gotten smarter than they used to be.
    – ubfan1
    Sep 6, 2016 at 4:25
  • You don't have to set up static IP addresses even. If there is no DHCP server (e.g. some sort of router) on the LAN (e.g. when 2 computers are directly connected by the UTP cable), then in the "Wired network" settings, go to the IPv4 tab, and set IPv4 Method to "Link-Local Only". From that point on the connection will work. You will need to look up the IP of the other machine (e.g. with hostname -I), so that you can use it in the showmount and mount commands.
    – Levente
    Feb 26, 2021 at 18:52
  • Did you mean both computers? Because the answer then is no; it's just on the computer where I want to type the mount command. I set my Ubuntu's network wired setting to link-local only, and then I can mount my Synology NAS and my Raspberry Pi 4. I don't even know how could I set link-local only on the NAS or on the Raspberry. There is a network switch connecting all these devices, with (usually) no router. (My internet comes from a separate wifi thing.)
    – Levente
    Feb 26, 2021 at 20:40

If both laptops have wifi...make a shared folder between them. It may ask you to install SAMBA on Ubuntu 14.04. It is for the Shared folder protocol for Ubuntu. Click rigth button over the folder you created for sharing and select sharing options on local network, then go to the other laptop and on system, click network, search for the laptop you want to share. It will ask you for the password of the owner of the folder. Thats it. Should work

Hope it helps

  • But I don't know the name of the folder I want to share. I want to browse the slave to find the picture. I've had the same password for 20 years so that's not a problem but I would want to browse the Windows NTFS and the Ubuntu EXT4 partitions and don't remember the where the file is. Sep 6, 2016 at 2:37

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