While many NAS-vendors like QNAP updated their products to ensure compatibility with AFP-shares in OS X Lion 10.7, things look different when it comes to Time Machine support. Most NAS-vendors still use an older version of Netatalk which supports AFP-shares in Lion (at least when using the DHX2 authentication module) but not the new Time Machine features introduced in AFP 3.3 like “Replay Cache”.
In order to ensure compatibility with OS X Lion’s Time Machine, NAS-vendors will have to use the latest Netatalk v2.2. Users trying to connect to a NAS-based Time Machine volume using an older Netatalk version are greeted with this error message:
The network backup disk does not support the required AFP features
Now, here’s the catch: the current Netatalk maintainer NetAFP.com decided to make this important release closed source, only releasing it to customers who are paying for commercial support (looks like you’re lucky if you own a Netgear or Drobo NAS!). With this move the maintainer deliberately grossly violates the GPL license which Netatalk is based upon in order to blackmail NAS-vendors into paying for commercial support. Make sure to check out Matthew Keller’s insightful response to NetAFP’s new closed source strategy. While both sides have their points I agree with Matthew that violating the GPL in order to earn money doesn’t sound like a solid business model.
Since NAS-vendors who advertise Time Machine compatibility in their products are in a locked-in situation, they only have two choices:
- Fork the last available Netatalk version and continue the development on their own (or better: form an alliance between NAS-vendors to advance development of Netatalk)
- Pay the current maintainer for commercial support and in turn get access to GPL-based software
I just hope things get sorted out quickly so we can all continue to use Time Machine backups using our Linux-based NAS’ with OS X Lion.