November 16, 2009, 4:08 PM — Getting a little tired of one Windows SMB (Server Message Block) security problem after another? Want a reliable and fast file and print server without the Windows server headaches? Then, may I strongly recommend that you give Samba on Linux a try? Samba is an open-source program that had provided file and print services to SMB/CIFS (Common Internet File System) clients for more than a decade. This is the same core functionality that Windows Server had provided since NT roamed the Earth. Thus, Samba can provide file and printer services for any version of Windows. Samba runs on essentially all Linux/Unix servers. Indeed, it's a rare Linux distribution that doesn't include the Samba server as a ready-to-run option.
Why would you bother? There are several good reasons to move to Samba. The first is cost. Not only is Samba free, it can run on hardware that Windows Server 2008 R2 would roll over and die on. In addition, there are no CAL (client access license) fees.
Samba is also fast. When I first tested Samba in 1999, it was already delivering files faster than NT. It's only gotten better since then. In informal tests at my office, I've found Samba 3.4.3, the latest version to be as fast as Server 2008 R2 on the same servers at delivering files.
Samba, AD, and Domains
You don't have to make an either/or decision if you want to try Samba on your network. Samba can work with AD (Active Directory) servers. If you're still using the older-style Windows Domain system for your network, Samba can be used with Domains or even dropped in a replacement for a Windows PDCs (Primary Domain Controllers).