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Thursday, March 24, 2011, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

Inside Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: Apple drops FTP, adds WebDAV file sharing for iOS

The upcoming release of Mac OS X Lion and Lion Server dramatically simplifies file sharing, removing official support for FTP and Sun's NFS file sharing protocols while adding a new WebDAV option making it easy to share files with iOS devices.

Changes in Mac OS X desktop file sharing

The most obvious change for desktop users is the removal of FTP from the available protocols in System Preference's File Sharing. FTP is a very simple, early protocol for making files available over the Internet, but offers little in terms of security.

While FTP is still available and configurable from the command line, it's no longer supported as an easy to turn on option in System Preferences, leaving only the Mac's native AFP and Windows-style SMB as options.

As noted previously, Apple's SMB (aka CIFS) file services are now home grown in Lion, as the company is no longer relying upon the Samba project to deliver its core Windows File Sharing software.

Developers working with the new build say FTP does appear to still be supported from the Finder as a download client. Apple has never supported FTP uploads from the Finder, necessitating a full fledged FTP client for users who need to both download and upload files.

The removal of FTP services appear to be motivated by the non-obvious security implications involved with opening up unencrypted FTP file sharing from a client system. Additionally, there are often better methods for sharing files, particularly for Mac users who depend upon support for file and file system features that FTP does not support well.

Mac OS X Lion file sharing


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