I'm always on the lookout for ways to make my workflow more efficient. One area that always needs improving is file sharing across a LAN. Sure there's Samba, but that requires a bit of configuration and usage that could be a bit above the paygrade of your users. So when I need the easiest way to share files over any given LAN, I turn to a handy tool called LAN-Share. With LAN-Share you can easily send files and folders to any machine on your network. The only requirement is that both sender and recipient have the application installed and running. With LAN-Share at work, users only need to know which machine they want to send to. LAN-Share auto-discovers all machines running the app, so users only have to select from a list.
The feature list is short, but to the point:
- Send one or more files or folders
- Send to multiple recipients at the same time
- Cancel, pause and resume operations
LAN-Share is available for Linux and Windows, so files can be shared between the two with next to no hassle. I want to walk you through the process of installing and using this remarkably handy network file sharing tool. I'll be demonstrating the installation process on Elementary OS. The installation on Windows is straightforward and usage is the same across platforms.
The installation of LAN-Share is easy. There are two methods of installation, using the provided .deb file or from source. I'll be demonstrating the installation using the .deb file. Here are the steps:
- Download the .deb installer file.
- From your browser, select GDebi Package Installer from the Open with drop-down (Figure A).
- When the GDebi app opens, click Install Package.
- When prompted, type your sudo password and hit Enter.
- Allow the installation to complete.
If you are not prompted to allow GDebi installation, you can take care of the process from the command line. Here's how:
- Open up a terminal window.
- Change into the directory housing the downloaded .deb file.
- Issue the command sudo dpkg -i lanshare*.deb.
- When prompted, type your sudo password.
- Allow the installation to complete.
Regardless of method, you should now see a LAN-Share entry in your desktop menu. Click it to open the app.
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In order for your machine to be available to other LAN-Share instances, the app must be running. When you open the app, you'll find a very clean interface ready for action (Figure B).
Let's share a file to another machine. To do this, click the Send button and click Send Files. Navigate to (and select) the file(s) you want to share and click Open. A new window will popup, listing all of the available machines running LAN-Share (Figure C).
Select the machine to receive the file and click Send. The file will immediately arrive in the target machine (without the recipient's interaction).
Out of the box, files are saved in ~/LANShareDownloads/. You can change that default receive directory in the Settings window. Click the Settings button (on the main window) and then (in the General tab), change the Download dir option to meet your needs (Figure D).
You can also change the name of your machine to make it easier for users. By default, LAN-Share will use the machine's hostname, which may (or may not) be intuitive to end users. Consider changing the LAN-Share name to your name or your job function.
Doesn't get much easier
And that's the gist of using LAN-Share. It's an incredibly simple tool that solves a problem that might perplex some admins and users. File sharing across your LAN doesn't get much easier than this. Give LAN-Share a go and see if it doesn't become your default LAN file sharing tool.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.