Linux Eee PC: Sharing Folders with Windows XP Computers

For those of you that are regular readers of this blog, you will know that the Denki-Guy owns an Eee PC 900 running Linux.  The decision by Asus to ship the Xandros distribution of Linux on the Eee PC, was a good one in my opinion.  The cool thing about Xandros Linux is that it is designed to work well on networks with Windows PCs.  This is good because I have a couple of other computers on my network that are running Windows XP.

When you own multiple computers, one problem you will always have is moving files from one computer to another.  In the computer days of yore, we would talk of sharing files via “sneaker-net” which involved copying the shared files to a floppy disk and walking it over the other computers.  Needless to say, this method of file sharing is still valid, except for the floppy disk part.  A USB drive is now the preferred transport medium.

Most of us, I dare say, would rather share files over the network.  Fortunately, the Xandros Linux on the Eee PC ships with the component called Samba which enables file and printer sharing between Linux and Windows.  In fact, Xandros Linux comes with Samba pre-installed and configured.  My Eee PC appeared on my Windows Network but it showed up in the work group “WORKGROUP” where as another computer appeared in the work group “DENKIGAI”.  I wanted all of my computers to show up in the same work group, so I changed the work group of the Eee PC.  You can read my previous blog entry for the details.

I will assume that you already know how to share folders on your Windows machine.  If you happen to have more that one Windows computer, you might try to get folder sharing working first in a Windows only environment.  Here is an article from Microsoft that explains file sharing on Windows XP.

When sharing files over the network, the first thing you need to do is locate the computer on the network.  Using the Eee PC you would launch the file manager by choosing the Work tab from Home screen and clicking on File Manager.  Once the Files Manager launches, click on My Eee PC and then double-click on the Windows Network icon.  The name of your workgroup will appear and double-clicking one more time on your workgroup  icon will reveal the names of the machines on your network.

To open a shared folder on another machine, simply double on the icon for the machine you want to access.  You should be able to see all of the shared folders in the next view.  From here you simply navigate to file you are after and work with it.  If you want to create a local copy of the file, the easiest way is to use the File Manager to open a second view of the folders on your Eee PC and drag and drop the file.  A local copy of the file will be made without affecting the original.

To share out a folder on your Eee PC, use the File Manager and navigate to folder you want to share.  Right click on the folder, select Sharing -> Windows Sharing and then check the box to Share this item and its contents. It doesn’t get much simpler.

So, sharing files between your Eee PC and other Windows computers on your network is extremely easy, that is in theory.  In reality, I ran into a number of bumps along the way.  In my next blog entry, I will pass along some solutions to help you over the bumps.

The Denki-Guy

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