How to Share Network Folders on Linux

Your Linux machine doesn’t have to feel alone

Illustration of a file folder holding music notes, images, and a film canister



Being able to share a folder across a network makes it possible for co-workers and family to have access to specific files on your computer. It’s a great way to avoid having to email 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 as your Windows and macOS counterparts can. The process has been made incredibly simple thanks to the likes of Linux's Ubuntu distribution and the GNOME desktop.

Let’s find out just how easy this is.

For the purpose of this demonstration, we used Ubuntu 19.04 running GNOME 3.32.0. Other distributions and desktop environments take different approaches to the task. But seeing how this process works on Ubuntu should alleviate any concerns that sharing folders on Linux cannot be done without manually editing configuration files.

The Public Folder

On many modern Linux distributions, you’ll find 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 will already have the necessary permissions needed for you to share).

Screenshot of the Public folder.

Sharing the Public Folder

We’re going to make the Public folder available to our network. The first thing to do is install the necessary components. Fortunately, this can be done from within the file manager (also known as Nautilus). To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open the File Manager.

  2. Right-click the Public folder and 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 checkbox.

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

    Screenshot of the Install service button.
  6. Type your user password, and press Authenticate.

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

When the installation finishes, you’ll find yourself back at 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 be able to create and delete subfolders within the Public folder, check the box for Allow others to create and delete files. If you want to allow anyone on your network to have access to the Public folder, check the box for Guest access. If you leave that box unchecked, the only people who will have access to that folder will be those with a user account on your machine.

If you’re concerned about security, you might want to leave that box unchecked 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 will depend upon what operating system they use. For example, in Windows 10, you should find the Public folder under Network and then the name of the machine sharing the folder.

Screenshot of the Public folder available to Windows 10.

And 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.