Browsing a WebDAV share in Linux and Windows 10

In this post I explain how I configured my machines running two Linux distributions (Gentoo Linux and Lubuntu 20.10) and my Windows 10 test machine to enable me to browse a shared folder on my file server (running ownCloud, in my case) that uses the WebDAV protocol. I cover two options for configuring Linux to browse WebDAV shares. Further options exist in Linux, but the two methods I give here are fine for my purposes.

I installed ownCloud on my Linux server in a slightly different way to the method in the ownCloud installation manual, and my examples in this post use the URI https://fitzcarraldo.ddns.net/owncloud/remote.php/webdav rather than the usual https://fitzcarraldo.ddns.net/remote.php/webdav for ownCloud, so replace the URI in my examples with the appropriate URI in your case. The username of the user account on each client machine is ‘fitz’, and the ownCloud username (davusername) on the server is ‘bsf’. Obviously replace those with the usernames in your case.

PART 1 – LINUX

Unless I mention the distribution explicitly, the following steps apply to both Linux distributions. As my Gentoo Linux installations use KDE, the steps for Gentoo Linux assume the file manager is Dolphin. My Lubuntu installation uses the file manager PCManFM-Qt.

1. Install davfs2 if it is not already installed

Gentoo Linux:

root # emerge davfs2

That command installs three packages:

acct-group/davfs2
acct-user/davfs2
net-fs/davfs2

Lubuntu 20.10:

user $ sudo apt install davfs2

2. Lubuntu 20.10: Allow mounting by non-root users

user $ sudo dpkg-reconfigure davfs2

   Package configuration
   
    ┌──────────────────────────────────────────┤ Configuring davfs2 ├───────────────────────────────────────────┐
    │                                                                                                           │
    │ The file /sbin/mount.davfs must have the SUID bit set if you want to allow unprivileged (non-root) users  │
    │ to mount WebDAV resources.                                                                                │
    │                                                                                                           │
    │ If you do not choose this option, only root will be allowed to mount WebDAV resources. This can later be  │
    │ changed by running 'dpkg-reconfigure davfs2'.                                                             │
    │                                                                                                           │
    │ Should unprivileged users be allowed to mount WebDAV resources?                                           │
    │                                                                                                           │
    │                               <Yes>                                  <No>                                 │
    │                                                                                                           │
    └───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘

(Do not do anything in Gentoo Linux; the SUID bit should be set automatically.)

3. Check the SUID bit has been set (notice the ‘s’ in the file’s permissions)

Gentoo Linux:

user $ ls -la /sbin/mount.davfs
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 21 Sep 25 23:03 /sbin/mount.davfs -> /usr/sbin/mount.davfs
user $ ls -la /usr/sbin/mount.davfs
-rws--x--x 1 root root 130752 Sep 25 23:03 /usr/sbin/mount.davfs

If the SUID bit has not be set automatically, you can do it manually:

user $ sudo chmod u+s /usr/sbin/mount.davfs

Lubuntu 20.10:

user $ ls -la /sbin/mount.davfs
-rwsr-xr-x 1 root root 137464 Aug  8  2020 /sbin/mount.davfs

4. Add the user to the davfs2 group

user $ sudo usermod -aG davfs2 fitz

Logout and login again and check the user is a member of the group:

user $ groups | grep -q davfs2 && echo "OK"
OK

5. Leave the lines in the following files commented out (i.e. accept the defaults)

/etc/davfs2/davfs2.conf (system-wide)

~/.davfs2/davfs2.conf (user-specific)

6. Option 1 (simplest!) – Enter the URI in the file manager and bookmark it

6.1 Gentoo Linux with KDE

Enter the following URI on the Dolphin file manager’s address line and press Enter:

webdavs://fitzcarraldo.ddns.net/owncloud/remote.php/webdav

You will be prompted to enter the username and password for the WebDAV share.

Select ‘File’ > ‘Add to Places’ in Dolphin to bookmark the share. From then on, you can browse the share by clicking on the share in the Remote section in Dolphin’s Places pane. You can rename the bookmark if you wish (right-click and select ‘Edit…’).

Another way to do this in KDE is as follows:

  1. click on ‘Network’ in the Places pane;
  2. click on ‘Add Network Folder’ next to the address bar;
  3. select ‘WebFolder (webdav)’ and click ‘Next’;
  4. enter the fields as follows:
    • Name: webdav
    • User: bsf
    • Server: fitzcarraldo.ddns.net
    • Port: 443 (I use Port 443 but you may be using a different port)
    • Folder: owncloud/remote.php/webdav
  5. select ‘Create an icon for this folder’ and ‘Use encryption’;
  6. click ‘Save & Connect’;
  7. right-click on the webdav icon in the main Dolphin pane and select ‘Add to Places’.

6.2 Lubuntu 20.10

Enter the following URI on the PCManFM-Qt file manager’s address line and press Enter:

davs://fitzcarraldo.ddns.net/owncloud/remote.php/webdav

You will be prompted to enter the username and password for the WebDAV share.

Select ‘Bookmarks’ > ‘Add to Bookmarks’ in PCManFM-Qt to bookmark the share. From then on, you can browse the share by clicking on the share in the Bookmarks section in PCManFM-Qt’s Lists pane. You can rename the bookmark if you wish (Bookmarks > Edit Bookmarks).

7. Option 2 – Assign a mountpoint at boot:

Add the following credentials line in the file ~/.davfs2/secrets:

https://fitzcarraldo.ddns.net/owncloud/remote.php/webdav <davusername> <davpassword>

and set the file permissions as follows:

user $ chmod 600 ~/.davfs2/secrets

Create a user directory onto which to mount the share:

user $ mkdir ~/webdav

Add a line in /etc/fstab to map the WebDAV share onto that directory at boot:

# <file system>                                            <mount point>       <type>  <options>        <dump>  <pass>
https://fitzcarraldo.ddns.net/owncloud/remote.php/webdav   /home/fitz/webdav   davfs   noauto,user,rw   0       0

The options ‘auto‘ and ‘_netdev‘ do not mount the WebDAV share automatically at boot in my installations; I am prompted to enter the davuser and davpassword manually early in the boot process if I include those options. To avoid the latter I use the ‘noauto‘ option and do not bother including the ‘_netdev‘ option. There are ways to mount a WebDAV share automatically at boot whether your installation uses systemd, OpenRC or other rc systems. Nevertheless I prefer the WebDAV share not to be mounted auomatically at boot, especially in the case of my laptops.

Reboot to check everything works.

Lubuntu 20.10:

The share will be listed as ‘webdav’ (unmounted) in the Devices section under Lists in PCManFM-Qt. You can click on the unmounted share to mount it, and click on the Unmount icon to unmount it. Everything works as expected.

Gentoo Linux with KDE:

The share is not listed in the Places pane in Dolphin but the share can be mounted manually from the command line as follows:

user $ mount ~/webdav
/sbin/mount.davfs: warning: the server does not support locks

(The ‘user‘ option in /etc/fstab allows the non-root user to mount the share.)

The main pane displaying the contents of ~/webdav/ will only be populated with the contents of the remote folder after the share is mounted.

The share is browsable in Dolphin. I can perform all file and folder operations in KDE apart from one thing: I cannot copy files to the server (neither from the local machine nor from the server); Dolphin displays messages such as ‘There is not enough space on the disk to write file:///home/fitz/testfile.txt’. I suspect the problem is with KDE, because I can copy files to and on the share by using the command line (for example the commands ‘cp ~/test1.txt ~/webdav/‘ and ‘cp ~/webdav/test2.txt ~/webdav/test3.txt‘ work fine). I have yet to find a solution to this issue, so I use Option 1 for Gentoo Linux running KDE, which works fine. To create a bookmark in Dolphin’s Places pane, browse the share and select ‘File’ > ‘Add to Places’.
 
PART 2 – WINDOWS 10

There is a Map Network Drive Wizard, but it is not as straightforward for WebDAV shares as it is with SMB shares. See the thread Cannot connect to webdav service for the type of behaviour I experienced, althought in my case I could rarely establish a connection using either ‘Map network drive’ or ‘Add a network location’, and the mapping was always lost if I logged out or rebooted, despite selecting ‘Reconnect at sign-in’. I then discovered several invalid URIs in Registry keys. Presumably these were left in the Registry after my various unsuccessful configuration attempts using the wizard. To finally succeed in mapping the ownCloud WebDAV shared folder I had to search for the string ‘fitzcarraldo.ddns.net’ in the Registry (see Steps 1 & 2 below for how to open the Registry) and delete any existing strings similar or identical to ‘https://fitzcarraldo.ddns.net/ownloud/remote.php/webdav‘, as they seemed to interfere with successful mapping of the network directory.

After making sure the Registry no longer contained any incorrect-looking WebDAV URIs for my ownCloud server, I used the following steps:

  1. Right-click on Windows’ Start Menu icon on the left of the Task Bar and select ‘Run’.
  2. Enter ‘regedit’ in the Open box and click ‘OK’.
  3. Select Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\WebClient\Parameters
  4. If the value in BasicAuthLevel is not already 2, change it to 2.
  5. In the ‘Type here to search’ box on the Task Bar, enter ‘Services’ and press Enter.
  6. Click ‘Services App’.
  7. Scroll down to ‘WebClient’ in the Services window.
  8. Right-click ‘WebClient’ and select ‘Properties’.
  9. If ‘Startup type’ is not already set to ‘Automatic’, change it to ‘Automatic’ and click ‘Apply’.
  10. Launch File Explorer.
  11. Right-click ‘This PC’ and select ‘Map network drive…’.
  12. Select the drive letter (default is Z:).
  13. In the Folder box enter \\fitzcarraldo.ddns.net@SSL\owncloud\remote.php\webdav and make sure only ‘Reconnect at sign-in’ is ticked.
  14. Click ‘Finish’.
  15. A network icon and the label ‘webdav (\\fitzcarraldo.ddns.net@SSL\owncloud\remote.php) (Z:)’ should appear under ‘My PC’. Clicking that icon displays the contents of the shared folder of my ownCloud account on my server.

The only Registry entries containing ‘fitzcarraldo.ddns.net’ found by ‘Edit’ > ‘Find…’ are now the following:

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Network\Z
RemotePath     REG_SZ     \\fitzcarraldo.ddns.net@SSL\owncloud\remote.php\webdav

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Map Network Drive MRU
a     REG_SZ     \\fitzcarraldo.ddns.net@SSL\owncloud\remote.php\webdav

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MountPoints2\##fitzcarraldo.ddns.net@SSL#owncloud#remote.php#webdav
LabelFromReg     REG_SZ     webdav (\\fitzcarraldo.ddns.net@SSL\owncloud\remote.php)

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\PublishingWizard\AddNetworkPlace\AddNetPlace\LocationMRU
a     REG_SZ     https://fitzcarraldo.ddns.net/owncloud/remote.php/webdav

Computer\HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-4039722433-590489090-552845671-1001\Network\Z
RemotePath     REG_SZ     \\fitzcarraldo.ddns.net@SSL\owncloud\remote.php\webdav

Computer\HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-4039722433-590489090-552845671-1001\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Map Network Drive MRU
a     REG_SZ     \\fitzcarraldo.ddns.net@SSL\owncloud\remote.php\webdav

Computer\HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-4039722433-590489090-552845671-1001\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MountPoints2\##fitzcarraldo.ddns.net@SSL#owncloud#remote.php#webdav
LabelFromReg     REG_SZ     webdav (\\fitzcarraldo.ddns.net@SSL\owncloud\remote.php)

Computer\HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-4039722433-590489090-552845671-1001\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\PublishingWizard\AddNetworkPlace\AddNetPlace\LocationMRU
a     REG_SZ     https://fitzcarraldo.ddns.net/owncloud/remote.php/webdav

 
CONCLUSION

There you have it. I can browse my ownCloud user account folders on my server from my machines running Linux and from my test machine running Windows 10.

Installing and configuring davfs2 in Linux, and using Option 1 to browse a WebDAV share is very easy in both Gentoo Linux running KDE and in Lubuntu 20.10. Using Option 2 is also very easy in Lubuntu 20.10 but is not easy in Gentoo Linux running KDE, and I still need to find out if there is a better approach for Option 2 in Gentoo Linux running KDE.

I found Windows 10 the most problematic, despite the apparent simplicity of the ‘Map network drive’ and ‘Add a network location’ wizards. I discovered that, if I didn’t get the format of the URI correct the first time, Windows 10 would leave ‘cruft’ in the Registry that apparently prevented further mapping attempts from working properly and consistently.

Anyway, everything works the way I want and I hope this post is of some help to others wanting to browse a share using WebDAV, be that a folder in ownCloud, Nextcloud or any other network service requiring the WebDAV protocol.

About Fitzcarraldo
A Linux user with an interest in all things technical.

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