The Official Samba-3 HOWTO and Reference Guide, John H. Terpstra and Jelmer R. Vernooij, Editors

by Paul Dwerryhouse

Prentice Hall PTR, 2003

ISBN: 0-13-145355-6

$49.99 US

As Linux makes its way into previously Microsoft-only environments, whether in a server or desktop capacity, it is likely that Samba becomes involved in the process of integrating the systems. Hot on the heels of the September 2003 release of Samba 3.0 comes The Official Samba-3 HOWTO and Reference Guide, edited by John H. Terpstra and Jelmer R. Vernooij, two of the cofounders of the Samba team.

The sheer amount of information in the book is impressive; the important topics of file sharing, domain control, domain membership and WINS are covered thoroughly. Beyond this, the book goes into considerable detail on issues such as security, trust relationships, access controls and system policies.

A nice touch is the presence of a number of ready-to-run sample Samba configurations in an early chapter. These range from a simple file server to a large domain controller with a directory server back end, and they are useful for anyone who quickly needs to set up a server for one of a number of common tasks, without first having to wade through hundreds of pages of documentation.

Also useful are the Common Errors sections at the end of most chapters, where many of the questions that appear time and time again on the Samba mailing list are documented and answered. These sections are of particular benefit to people migrating from an older version of Samba, and they definitely are a worthwhile feature.

Due to the complexity of modern Samba installations, it isn't sufficient for a book to cover only the Samba software itself. A number of external software packages are needed to integrate a Samba server into a large network. Fortunately, the book does not let us down. The use of OpenLDAP, PAM, ISC BIND and DHCP in conjunction with Samba are all touched on in varying degrees. A detailed chapter on using Samba with the CUPS printing system also is provided.

One minor problem concerns the chapter on configuring Windows systems, where the authors notably have omitted any explanation on joining a Windows NT 4 system to a domain, concentrating instead on later versions of Windows. NT 4 still has some corporate deployment despite Microsoft's lack of support, and potential Samba administrators may have found such an explanation useful. Interestingly, though, the authors did discuss NT 4 in a later chapter in the context of roaming profiles.

The book is unashamedly for the more-advanced Samba user. It should be appreciated most by those people who already have some experience with earlier versions of Samba or who are at least are familiar with administering Linux or UNIX systems. Newcomers looking for a book to step them through their first installation may find this book tough going; they would be better off looking elsewhere before venturing into this one. For the advanced user, however, or for anyone planning on using Samba in a production environment, this book is invaluable.

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