time capsule 150x150 How to build your own Apple Time Capsule Machine with an old or cheap computerThose that are looking for a great backup solution, will normally get their eyes on the Apple Time Capsule, which is available in a number sizes; 1TB, 2TB, and 3TB. Users that want to know more about the Time Capsule can take a look at our review.

With the Apple Time Capsule it is not only possible to use it as a backup system, but it operates as a high-speed wireless router (3x 1Gbps ports), and it can also be used as a Network Attached Storage (NAS) station for Mac OS X, Windows or Linux based system.

While its probably the best backup solution that is available on the consumer market, it is probably also the most expensive one; the cheapest Time Capsule is available for $300, although Amazon still offers the old version for a bit less ($279). What some of you probably don’t know is the fact that it is possible to build your own Apple Time Capsule. These are the things that you will need.

  • Computer (i386/AMD64), Pentium D or higher will be fine, although a SATA port will improve the performance when transferring files later.
  • Debian 6.0 (Squeeze)
  • Netatalk 2.2.1-1 – Download i386/AMD64.
  • Mac system, because Time Capsule will not work together with Windows.

Lets get started by downloading the Debian installer and burn it to a CD and install the old computer that you want to use as your Time Capsule. In this tutorial we require that you have some knowledge of Linux, so you may have to use Google from time to time.

Now that you are running Debian it is important that you download the Netatalk files from the list above, because these are already edited and new Netatalk files could cause problems. If you don’t know how to install .deb files we suggest that you take a look at this tutorial.

After you are done with installing the packages it is important that you create a new service group, just enter the following line in the Debian terminal and add the following lines of script to the file. Save and close the file.

<?xml version="1.0" standalone='no'?><!--*-nxml-*-->
<!DOCTYPE service-group SYSTEM "avahi-service.dtd">
<service-group>
  <name replace-wildcards="yes">%h</name>
  <service>
    <type>_afpovertcp._tcp</type>
    <port>548</port>
  </service>
  <service>
    <type>_device-info._tcp</type>
    <port>0</port>
    <txt-record>model=Xserve</txt-record>
  </service>
</service-group>

Now that have saved the service group you are going to create a directory where you will be saving your time machine data, make sure that you link exactly follow these steps in the right order. We also suggest that you connect at least a 1TB hard drive to the Debian computer.

mkdir /var/timemachine

We are now going to trick Mac OS X in thinking that the Debian server is a supported Time Machine by entering the following command on the Debian server.

touch /var/timemachine/.com.apple.timemachine.supported

Now enter the following line on your Debian server; and add the user that you want to allow access, usedots for the support of hidden files, uprivs (afp3 that is required by Lion), and tm to enable Time Machines support. Your file should look similar to the template below. Save and quit the file.

# By default all users have access to their home directories.
~/                      "Home Directory"
/var/timemachine         TimeMachine allow:joe cnidscheme:dbd options:usedots,upriv,tm

The Debian server no needs to restart avahi with the following command;

/etc/init.d/avahi-daemon restart

After avahi is restarted it is important that you restart netatalk as well.

/etc/init.d/netatalk restart

You are now done setting up your Debian server, now move over to your Mac OS X system and open a Terminal window and enter the following command to allow unsigned time machine volumes show up on Mac OS X. After entering the command, the Debian server will appear in the Time Machine tool of Mac OS X. Good luck!

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

Leave a Reply