How to Share Network Folders on Linux

Your Linux machine doesn’t have to feel alone

Sharing a folder across a network makes it possible for co-workers and family to access specific files on your computer. It's a great way to avoid emailing files to those who use the same network resources as you.

If your operating system of choice is Linux, you are just as capable of sharing those folders like the Windows and macOS counterparts. The process has been made simple with the Linux Ubuntu distribution and the GNOME desktop. Here's how to share folders on Linux without manually editing configuration files.

Instructions in this article use Ubuntu 19.04 with GNOME 3.32.0. Other distributions and desktop environments take different approaches to the task.

The Public Folder

On many modern Linux distributions, there's a folder in your home directory called Public. This folder is not automatically shared, but it's a great place to start sharing (as it has the necessary permissions needed for you to share).

Screenshot of the Public folder.

Share the Public Folder

To make the Public folder available to a network, first, install the necessary components. This can be done from the file manager (also known as Nautilus). To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open the File Manager.

  2. Right-click the Public folder, then select Properties.

    Screenshot of the right-click folder menu.
  3. Select Local Network Share.

    Screenshot of the folder properties window.
  4. Select the Share this folder check box.

    Screenshot of the Sahre this folder checkbox.
  5. When prompted, select Install service, then select Install.

    Screenshot of the Install service button.
  6. Enter your user password, then select Authenticate.

    Screenshot of the Authenticate button.
  7. Allow the installation to complete.

When the installation finishes, you are returned to the Folder Sharing window. Here you need to give the folder a Share name and an optional Comment.

Screenshot of the Share name and Comment configurations.


The next step is to decide what kind of permissions you want to allow for the folder.

  • If those who use the folder need to create and delete subfolders in the Public folder, select Allow others to create and delete files.
  • If you want to allow anyone on your network to have access to the Public folder, select Guest access. If you leave that box unchecked, the only people who will have access to that folder are those with a user account on your machine.

If you're concerned about security, clear the Guest access check box and then create a user account for anyone that needs access to your Public folder. Click Create Share and then, when prompted, click Add the permissions automatically.

Screenshot of the Add the permissions automatically button.

Once that completes, close the Folder Sharing window. The Public folder is now accessible from your network. How users access that drive depends on the operating system they use. For example, in Windows 10, the Public folder is located under Network and then the name of the machine that is sharing the folder.

Screenshot of the Public folder available to Windows 10.

That's all there is to sharing folders to your network from a Linux machine. Add all the files you need to that folder and let your fellow users have at them.