I would like to copy files between Galaxy S3 and Ubuntu

  • without giving away too many privileges - just copying said file

  • without any rooty system modifications (I want to keep the carrier-warranty including their system updates - currently 4.1.2; and I want to show this to hapless users too - without them calling me back...)

  • without using an USB cable (I know how to do this like in this answer, that is, connecting as a camera ; but this gives one complete rw access in some directories)

  • preferably without any extra apps to install.

It seems there are two options left (when going through the list offered by the "Share via" button): either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

For Bluetooth such a transfer worked with an out-of-the-box preinstalled Windows. So it is not the Android as such which is a problem, rather Ubuntu but there was no answer nor interest on AU.

When I try to send it via Bluetooth I just get the notification: "Bluetooth share: Sent 0 successful, 1 failed". However, I can transfer files from Ubuntu to Android.

So how can I copy files successfully?

  • 1
    Judging by your comments below you also wish to do this without installing any applications; a point you may wish to make clear above.
    – user5506
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 22:22
  • @Poldie: Thank you, updated. I would prefer an out-of-the-box solution
    – false
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 14:26

3 Answers 3


There are multiple possibilities to do so. If the opposite direction is OK with you (i.e. initiating the transfer from your Ubuntu machine), you might want to take a look at apps like WebSharing or Samba Server, which require little permissions. AirDroid is quite famous, but you probably won't like its permission requests (with that app you can maintain almost all your device).

Initiating transfers from your Android device, some file managers might be interesting. So e.g. ES File Explorer File Manager (which I use myself). This app can even auto-discover your Samba resources, so you can directly copy files in both directions.

All mentioned solutions work via WiFi and require both ends (Android and Ubuntu) being members of the same network.

  • The direction Ubuntu -> Android works out of the box (not very comfortably, but OK for, say, a picture or two).
    – false
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 22:16
  • There must be an out-of-the-box solution for Android -> Ubuntu too. Certainly not as comfortable as a special app. But imagine some stranger wants to give you an image from his Galaxy. You would not say: install-this-and-that.
    – false
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 22:18
  • It's long time ago that I've used Bluetooth for similar things. But have you tried to install the obexpushd package on Ubuntu, and then send an item via Bluetooth from your device to the Ubuntu machine? According to the package description, it should support this.
    – Izzy
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 22:27

I was not able to find easy way to make working USB connection between my Galaxy S3 and Ubuntu. The only solution that worked for me described here: UBUNTU - AUTOMOUNT NEXUS 7 IN MTP MODE. Here is list what I did to make MTP working:

  1. Compile and install go-mtp
  2. Create mount point
  3. Create udev rules
  4. Play around with mount/umount

It was not trivial at all, but finally made USB connection working. Speed is good and after initial configuration doesn't require any further reconfiguration. Please refer to the link for details.


I use AndSMB or AndFTP over WiFi for this purpose. The former accesses files shared via the SMB/CIFS protocol; the latter can access FTP and SFTP servers. You might already have Samba (an SMB server) installed on your Ubuntu machine. If not, I think SFTP is easier to set up: you just need to install the openssh-server package, and look at the official documentation to see what options you might want to change.

I mention these two clients because I've used both and I know you can use "Share" with both of them as well as a file browser interface; there are other SFTP and SMB clients available.

If you go with SFTP, you might go a step further and install a dynamic-DNS system on your Ubuntu box so you can access it over the Internet as well as your own WiFi network. If you do this (as I have), it's like having your own Dropbox server.

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