The debate has been raging since before Lightroom came out of Beta v1: when will we be able to share Lightroom catalogues? At the very least, how can we host a catalogue on a server somewhere and just open it up on different computers one at a time? Lightroom has a restriction where it blocks access if the catalogue database is from a networked location. Adobe built Lightroom this way to keep file-locking issues and database corruption to a minimum. But when you have many computers and thousands upon thousands of files, it’s nice to be able to open the same catalogue on each computer quickly without having to plug and unplug external hard-drives.
For the past four years I’ve been quietly going about doing this using a very simple method. I create a Read/Write Disk Image (DMG) and simply load my catalogue and thumbnail scratch file directly into that. I can mount that dmg from anywhere on my gigabit network and Lightroom is non-the-wiser. It even handles all the file-locking stuff for me as once a DMG is mounted somewhere on the network, it can’t be mounted again at the same time somewhere else. Because Lightroom can pull networked full-res images just fine, the total space used for a 26,000+ file catalogue is a few gigabytes. Enjoy.
Here’s a video demonstration/proof of how to open Lightroom from a networked drive now. To see in HD, go to the vimeo page.