Samba your way to network file sharing success

Need a solid Windows-compatible file and print server? Consider, if you will, Samba on top of Linux for your networking needs.

By , ITworld |  Operating Systems, Linux, Samba

You can also use the Web-based SWAT (Samba Web Based Administration Tool) or Webmin for your basic setup. You won't want to use these tools once you're past your initial installation though if you do any manual tuning to your Samba set-up. That's because these programs tend to replace the master Samba configuration file, smb.conf, with their own optimized version of the file. That, in turn, will lose any hand-made changes you've made to the file.

Chances are though you won't need to do much of that. While you can spend a lot of time optimizing Samba, for basic bread and butter file and print sharing, the easy-to-use front-end programs do a fine job.

If you want, of course, you can set Samba up the old fashioned manual way. With recipes like Red Hat Magazine's How to build a dirt easy home NAS server using Samba and Debian Admin's File Server Configuration in Debian Using Samba, you won't need to be a Linux or a networking genius to set up a good, basic standalone Samba server.

If you do need to get fancy your one-stop information site for setting up Samba is The Official Samba 3.2.x HOWTO and Reference Guide. While a bit dated, most of the information is still current.

The one noteworthy exception is that, starting with Samba 3.4, the default passdb password backend has been changed to 'tdbsam.' If you're still using the old password setup with the 'smbpasswd' backend this will break it. If you've been using a standalone Samba server, chances are good that's what you've been using for security.

If you want to stick with it, simply enter the line: passdb backend = smbpasswd

in your smb.conf. You're better off in the long run though if you convert your smbpasswd entries into tbdsam by running

pdbedit -i smbpasswd -e tdbsam

from a Linux shell. The tdbsam offers you more options for users setting, and there are some advanced server commands which won't work with the 'smbpasswd' backend.

Samba from the desktop

For desktop users, none of this matters. Whether you're using Samba as a complete replacement or as part of a Windows Server-based network, once set up properly, Samba drives and printers work exactly like any other network drive or printer as they're concerned.

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