March 23, 2001, 4:29 PM —
There I was, in the middle of a Samba class -- and nothing was working! Half the class had Linux boxes running Samba, and the other half had Windows 98, which had been installed by the company we rented the machines from. Each pair of delegates had configured their Samba server and Windows 98 client in a unique workgroup, and the Windows users were trying to see their Samba servers from Network Neighborhood in Windows 98. Alas, all their clicking on Network Neighborhood failed to get any results.
With my credibility crumbling, I quickly fired up Ethereal (see Resources) and checked out what was happening on the wire. The reason for the problem was obvious -- and isn't it always! The Windows 98 clients had NetBEUI on them because the rental company had used Ghost to install the same image on them all; that image had NetBEUI as well as TCP/IP configured. NetBEUI was the default protocol and the Windows 98 clients were using it to browse the network. Samba does not yet work with NetBEUI, so it was not taking part in the browsing at all.
The fix was simple, of course: remove NetBEUI from each of the Windows 98 clients, restart them, and voilà! everyone could browse the network and see the Samba servers.
This is but one of the many problems that new and old users of most distributions of Samba encounter. On the Linux mailing list where I usually hang out, LinuxSA (see Resources), we see the same set of problems all the time. In this article, I'll outline some of these problems and suggest ways to recognize and -- most importantly -- fix them.
File and print services
Samba is a very popular open source server package with which Linux system can provide file and print services (also known as shares) for Windows clients of all types. Current versions of Samba (2.0.7) have rudimentary Primary Domain Controller (PDC) support, while Samba TNG can perform most PDC functions, even for Windows 2000 clients. Samba implements the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, a complex protocol that was developed by IBM in 1984.
Samba ships with all Linux distributions that I am aware of, but, because of distribution cycles, the version that ships can often be behind the version available at the Samba Website.
Samba is used by many people around the world on a daily basis in a production capacity. Perhaps this is because of Samba's open source nature, the fact that it ships with Linux distributions, or because of the Samba team's efforts to supply a product that is quite compatible with Windows NT.