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MacWindows Beat

By John Rizzo

Lion's broken connectivity to NAS and AFP servers

Friday, August 5, 2011

It seems like any new release of Mac OS X breaks some aspect of file sharing with non-Apple devices. This was true for Leopard, and Snow Leopard had (and still has) problems with SMB file sharing. With Lion, Apple replaced the under-the-hood workings of both SMB (Samba) and the Apple Filing Protocol (AFP). Almost immediately, users discovered that Mac OS X 10.7.0 has an incompatibility with many network attached storage (NAS) devices using AFP as well as other AFP file servers. Most NAS devices support both AFP and SMB, but Mac OS X's Time Machine backup software requires AFP.

For users, the Apple-provided workaround can prove tricky to work around than it first appeared. Readers have reported by success and failure with the procedure. Lion users who try to access some AFP devices get the error message:

The version of the server you are trying to connect to is not supported. Please contact your system administrator to resolve the problem.

The problem is with the Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) and applies to NAS devices and other AFP servers, including Novell servers. (Group Logic's ExtremeZ-IP is not affected.) Time Machine, Lion's backup software, uses AFP to connect to NAS devices. NAS devices that use SMB file sharing are not affected by this problem. There are also reports around the Internet that the problem affects Mac OS X Server 10.6.

The issue incompatibility arises from Apple dropping support for most authentication types, including the widely used DHX (DHCAST128) and clear text. Lion now uses only DHX2 authentication. Apple's workaround is to use the command line in Terminal to turn on other authentication methods. (More specifically, to remove the older authentication methods from a disabled list.)

Apple says the reason for the change is that DHX2 is more secure than other versions. That could be, but there is more than authentication that's different. Lion is now using a more recent version of Netatalk, v 2.2, which is the AFP client/server file sharing software used in Mac OS X and many NAS devices. Netatalk 2.2, in tern supports AFP 3.3. Most NAS devices are not using the new version of Netatalk, and will have to update their firmware. Several have announced that they are doing just that.

Iomega says will release a new firmware update to update Netatalk in a matter of weeks. This note is from August 1:

Support for Time Machine on Mac OS X 10.7

Question: Does my Iomega network device support Time Machine on Mac OS X 10.7?

Iomega is currently working on updating Time Machine support for Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion).

With the release of 10.7, Apple discontinued support for DHX authentication and introduced a significant architectural change to Netatalk, the network protocol used to connect via AFP to a Time Machine backup target on network-attached storage. Iomega has the solution for this change, and it is in final qualification testing. We expect to release it in the next few weeks.

Your previous Time Machine backups will be temporarily unavailable; the data, however, will be available with the next version of the StorCenter firmware and Storage Manager software.

Are you having problems connecting to AFP servers, including older Mac OS X Servers and NAS? If so

For more on this topic, see MacWindows Lion File Sharing Tips and Reports.

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