Focus on Software

by David A. Bandel

I am excited about Samba 2.0 and its new web interface called swat. However, there is still room for smaller, simpler tools that are found in the Samba package or do not require a web browser. We will look at a few of these tools today as well as a few graphical FTP packages.


gtksamba is a nice program that aids configuration and testing of the Samba smb.conf file. The smb.conf file to edit can be specified, if it has a different name or is located in a directory other than /etc. While not as detailed as swat, it allows a user with proper permissions to look at and edit smb.conf. This program appears just as powerful as swat, but does not require a web browser. Some features planned for this program are not yet implemented, such as the ability to configure remote machines. For its help, gtksamba uses the Samba man pages. However, it does not just present the man pages—it parses them to make finding specific parameters easy. In all, gtksamba is a well-thought-out program. It requires gtk 1.1.13, glib, Xext, X11, libm and glibc.


A Tcl/Tk interface to the smbclient program in Samba, TkSmb allows browsing of the “Network Neighborhood” in a box on your screen. Shown are the neighborhood hosts, the shares on any particular host, the different groups detected, and when a share is selected, the files in the share. Files and directories are displayed in black and blue respectively. One security aspect requires you enter your password each time you change shares. A check box to “remember my password” for the current session would be helpful. It requires Tcl/Tk 8.0, expect 5.24+ and glibc 2.0.6.


The smb2www package provides a view of the “Network Neighborhood” through a web browser and more closely resembles the Microsoft version. While nice, installation is a little difficult; the script walks you through questions, but could be a bit more friendly. Different hosts (Windows 9x or NT) show up as different icons—a nice touch. It requires a working web server (either Apache or another), Perl and a web browser.


Under Windows, users have the ability to send each other messages if the messaging facility is turned on. The LinPopUp utility allows Linux Samba servers to exchange messages with Windows hosts or other Samba servers. It requires a change to the smb.conf file by root for messages to be received, but they can be sent without this modification. This facility will also receive messages from the NT server. It requires gtk 1.0.4+, Xext, X11, libm, Xmu, Xt, SM, ICE and glibc.


tkchooser2 is another browsing tool that can be used with or without Samba. The default configuration is for AppleTalk (Netatalk) to be installed; however, this is easily changed. What this package lacks is a way to configure everything without opening several files and making changes. While the instructions are adequate, most newbies will not feel comfortable reconfiguring the package. Once a package is stable and ready for release, I would consider a configuration script that walks installers through initial setup a must. It requires Tcl/Tk 8.0.


gftp provides drag and drop for X. It is a well-done package that will help anyone move files around the Net. For doing file transfers, gftp is the easiest to use graphical utility I have seen, and it allows multiple transfers at one time (if you have the bandwidth for it). Partial transfers can be resumed. Two windows below the two side-by-side directory windows allow you to watch transfers and messages from the host. An easy connection manager rounds out this utility. Utilities like this make it easy for newbies and give them one more reason to choose Linux. It requires libpthread, gtk 1.1, Xext, X11, lib and glibc.


IglooFTP is another program from littleigloo. It is a graphical FTP package that is slightly larger than gftp. This one is still in the works, but already looks good. It is still alpha code, so is not yet as stable as gftp. One nice security feature is the ability to save a site, and when you connect, have the program request a password rather than storing it in the rc file. Also, your e-mail address (used as your anonymous password) is configurable from the preferences box. All in all, it is a very nice graphical FTP package. It requires gtk 1.1.11+, Xext, X11, libm, Xmu, Xt, SM, ICE and glibc.


xrmftp is yet another great FTP package. This one allows you to choose between active- and passive-mode transfers. Four windows include local and remote directories, a command viewer window and a buffer window. Files can be “queued up” in the buffer window, and when you have found the files you want, you can download the buffer. This permits you to look around without having to wait on a slow modem line while searching for more files. It requires xforms 0.88, X11 and glibc.

David A. Bandel ( is a Computer Network Consultant specializing in Linux. When he's not working, he can be found hacking his own system or enjoying the view of Seattle from an airplane.
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