Samba—Unix Talking with PCs
Now that I've got that off my chest, I better tell you what Samba can do. Not that I expect anyone to still be reading after a tirade like that one.
Samba provides file and print services to SMB clients. These include LanManager, Windows for Workgroups, Windows NT and OS/2. There is also a free client for DOS put out by Microsoft, but it's a real memory hog.
Samba also provides a Netbios name server, so PCs can find the server, and a Unix SMB client program. The SMB client only has a primitive ftp-like interface, but a proper mountable SMB filesystem for Linux is in the works.
Samba uses quite a comprehensive configuration file mechanism written by Karl Auer. Karl also did all the documentation for Samba, which I think has been very important in its success.
Some features of the Samba server are:
freely distributible source under GPL
supports more than 20 flavours of Unix
supports mangled filenames with root name preservation
much faster than NFS
much more secure than NFS
clients are pre-installed on many platforms
most clients have auto-reconnect
restrict access by username/password, by IP address or netgroup
There are a lot more bits and pieces. Samba has “suffered” from Karl's code that allows me to easily add new options. There are now more than 60 configurable options in the server, which can be applied in endless combinations for each exported file or print service. Thank god for Karl's man pages.
Samba is being improved all the time. It is now a distributed development effort with many active contributors. Upcoming versions are likely to include full long filename support for those clients that can handle it (such as Windows NT and Chicago), browsing support and a mountable SMB filesystem. Work is also proceeding on a more complete RFC1001/1002 netbios nameserver implementation.
Get it, use it. If it doesn't work for you, then remember how much it cost. Also remember to send me a bug report.
Now I think I'll go and have some lunch.
Andrew Tridgell is an associate lecturer in the department of computer science at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. He is also completing a PhD in automatic speech recognition in the computer sciences laboratory at the same university.
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