2019-01-02 Updated after comments from Guy. Please comment below if you have any new issues


  • Raspberry Pi (tested with a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B)
  • Micro SD card (2GB+)
  • USB Hard Drive

Setup Pi with Raspbian

Install Raspbian Stretch Lite on the SD card. Follow the instructions on the Installing images tutorial on the Raspberry Pi site. Then enable SSH. Insert the SD card into the Pi, plug in the USB hard drive, plug in a network cable, and power on the Pi.

Next set a static IP address for your Raspberry Pi. Depending on your setup, you can either set the Pi to have a manual ip address or have your router assign a static IP address.

Login to your Pi via SSH or old school with a keyboard & monitor. Run raspi-config to make any changes you want like changing hostname etc.

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo raspi-config

And update your Pi

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y

Setup USB Hard drive

Install hfsutils & hfsprogs

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo apt-get install hfsutils hfsprogs

Format USB hard drive to hfsplus. This will erase all data on the USB hard drive.

Note: this assumes your USB hard drive is sda2

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo mkfs.hfsplus /dev/sda2 -v timemachine

Create mount point

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo mkdir /media/tm && sudo chmod -R 777 /media/tm

Determine the UUID of your USB hard drive (sda2)

pi@timemachine:~ $ ls -lha /dev/disk/by-uuid

pi@timemachine:~ $ ls -lha /dev/disk/by-uuid
total 0
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 120 Sep  3 00:17 .
drwxr-xr-x 8 root root 160 Sep  3 00:17 ..
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root  15 Sep  3 00:13 3725-1C05 -> ../../mmcblk0p1
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root  10 Sep  3 00:17 6525d832-1a97-35a5-92a4-345253fcfd00 -> ../../sda2
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root  10 Sep  3 00:17 67E3-17ED -> ../../sda1
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root  15 Sep  3 00:13 fd695ef5-f047-44bd-b159-2a78c53af20a -> ../../mmcblk0p2

In my case the UUID is 6525d832-1a97-35a5-92a4-345253fcfd001.

Edit fstab to mount the USB hard drive

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo nano /etc/fstab

and append this line (replacing 6525d832-1a97-35a5-92a4-345253fcfd00 with your specific UUID determined above).

UUID=6525d832-1a97-35a5-92a4-345253fcfd00 /media/tm hfsplus force,rw,user,noauto 0 0

It should end up looking something like this

proc                                      /proc     proc    defaults             0       0
PARTUUID=d159f393-01                      /boot     vfat    defaults             0       2
PARTUUID=d159f393-02                      /         ext4    defaults,noatime     0       1
UUID=6525d832-1a97-35a5-92a4-345253fcfd00 /media/tm hfsplus force,rw,user,noauto 0       0

Test that mounting works as expected

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo mount /media/tm

pi@timemachine:~ $ df -h
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/root        15G  1.4G   13G  10% /
devtmpfs        484M     0  484M   0% /dev
tmpfs           489M     0  489M   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs           489M   13M  476M   3% /run
tmpfs           5.0M  8.0K  5.0M   1% /run/lock
tmpfs           489M     0  489M   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/mmcblk0p1   43M   22M   21M  51% /boot
/dev/sda2       699G  300M  668G  0% /media/tm
tmpfs            98M     0   98M   0% /run/user/1000

should show a line like /dev/sda2 699G 300M 668G 0% /media/tm

Note: we are not automatically mounting this USB hard drive as mounting USB on startup can be flakey

Install Netatalk

Install prerequisites

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo apt-get install build-essential libevent-dev libssl-dev libgcrypt11-dev libkrb5-dev libpam0g-dev libwrap0-dev libdb-dev libtdb-dev libmariadbclient-dev avahi-daemon libavahi-client-dev libacl1-dev libldap2-dev libcrack2-dev systemtap-sdt-dev libdbus-1-dev libdbus-glib-1-dev libglib2.0-dev libio-socket-inet6-perl tracker libtracker-sparql-1.0-dev libtracker-miner-1.0-dev

Download the latest version to Netatalk (at time of writing it is 3.1.12)

pi@timemachine:~ $ wget https://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/netatalk/netatalk-3.1.12.tar.gz && tar -xf netatalk-3.1.12.tar.gz && cd netatalk-3.1.12

Create config

./configure \
        --with-init-style=debian-systemd \
        --without-libevent \
        --without-tdb \
        --with-cracklib \
        --enable-krbV-uam \
        --with-pam-confdir=/etc/pam.d \
        --with-dbus-daemon=/usr/bin/dbus-daemon \
        --with-dbus-sysconf-dir=/etc/dbus-1/system.d \

and make

pi@timemachine:~ $ make

Note: this will take a while. Might I suggest checking out my Sailing YouTube Channel to pass the time

finally make install

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo make install

and ensure everything worked

pi@timemachine:~ $ netatalk -V

Configure Netatalk

Edit nsswitch.conf

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo nano /etc/nsswitch.conf

append mdns4 and mdns to the line that starts with hosts. It should end up looking something like this.

# /etc/nsswitch.conf
# Example configuration of GNU Name Service Switch functionality.
# If you have the `glibc-doc-reference' and `info' packages installed, try:
# `info libc "Name Service Switch"' for information about this file.

passwd:         compat
group:          compat
shadow:         compat
gshadow:        files

hosts:          files mdns4_minimal [NOTFOUND=return] dns mdns4 mdns
networks:       files

protocols:      db files
services:       db files
ethers:         db files
rpc:            db files

netgroup:       nis

Finally edit afp.conf

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo nano /usr/local/etc/afp.conf

and append

  mimic model = TimeCapsule6,106

[Time Machine]
  path = /media/tm
  time machine = yes

Launch the two services

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo service avahi-daemon start

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo service netatalk start

Mount and start services on boot

Edit crontab

pi@timemachine:~ $ sudo crontab -e

and append

@reboot sleep 30 && mount /media/tm && sleep 10 && service avahi-daemon start && service netatalk start

Note: this will delay mounting the for 30 seconds giving the USB hard drive time to spin up. It will then start the avahi-daemon & netatalk services. That way the services won’t start until the USB hard drive has been mounted.

Connect to Time Machine

Connect to server

Connect to Server

Login creds will be the same as your ssh creds on the pi

Note: default creds username: pi & password: raspberry

Open the Time Machine settings and you should see your new network time machine server

Open Time Machine

References: this is an updated version of a How to Geek article with some tweaks for flaky USB hard drives and updates for the latest packages.