OS X File Sharing and Error -36

I have a mixed bag of Macs at my workplace. The machines range from 1 to 6 years in age. For various reasons we need to keep some of the machines on older versions of the OS.

I recently ran into the old infamous “Error -36” while copying files to and from one of our systems.

This problem had popped up about a year ago and was resolved, but so much time had passed that I’d forgotten what was going on and what I did to solve it.

My understanding, and please feel free to comment a correction, is that Error -36 was originally an I/O issue and might indicate a number of problems with a drive on your system.

Thinking that the problem was related to the health of a disk brought me down a rabbit hole of useless tests.

One solution is particular seems to have been related to “.ds_store” files in slightly different formats from various OS’s.

Following the instructions to clear the “.ds_store” using the “dot_clean” command provided absolutely no relief for the issue we were seeing here.

This suggested that the “dot” files weren’t the origin of the issue.


The Problem

When Apple released Yosemite, they seemingly had an issue with the new GPL license for the SAMBA (smb) protocol and decided to develop their own version…

…which doesn’t work well.  Granted it isn’t a complete failure, but it doesn’t appear to be robust enough to deal with a mixed bag of SMB installations.


The Solution That Didn’t Work

Once it became clear that the real issue was Apple’s implementation of the SAMBA v2 protocol one possibility for solution was to force each system to use SAMBA v1. Unfortunately this didn’t seem to provide nearly as solid a solution as desired. There were still some intermittent problems getting files to copy.


The Solution That Works… with one caveat

Within the system preferences, go to Sharing, then select File Sharing, click options, and turn off SMB.

As of the release of Mavericks, Apple has decided that they’re going to deprecate the AFP protocol for file sharing.  Luckily they were smart enough to realize that backwards compatibility is a good idea and left it in… for now.  So far it hasn’t completely gone away, but we have to keep in mind that at some point AFP will likely disappear.  Hopefully by that time Apple will have either fixed their SAMBA implementation or deal with the new GPL license for the public version.

For good measure, I made sure that each workstation in our facility has SAMBA off. We’ll keep going this way until the problem is fixed.

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