As a heterogeneous service, Samba bridges the gap between Linux and Microsoft Windows ”which essentially means that it can communicate equally well with either operating system. In fact, you can configure Samba to share directories and printers in the same way as any other member of a Microsoft Windows network.
One of the advantages of Samba is that it allows you to configure a Linux or Unix computer to function in different ways on a Microsoft Windows network. When your configuration is complete, Microsoft users don t even need to know that they re communicating with a Linux computer. With Samba, you can configure your Linux computer to look like any of the following types of computers:
Member of a Microsoft Windows workgroup
Member of a Microsoft Windows domain
Microsoft Windows member server
Microsoft primary domain controller (PDC)
Samba 2.2.7 (included with Red Hat Linux 9) does not allow you to configure Linux as a BDC. However, the functionality is possible; see the Samba BDC HOWTO at www.samba.org for more information. The people behind Samba are working on incorporating explicit BDC support in Samba 3.0.
Samba was originally based on Microsoft s LAN Manager system, where client computers used NetBIOS names over a TCP/IP network, NBT (NetBIOS over TCP/IP); it does not need Microsoft s other networking system, NetBEUI. For more information on NetBIOS and NetBEUI, see Chapter 20 .
Don t let the title of this section make you panic. Samba is licensed under the GPL, and is freely available as a part of different Unix-style operating systems, including Red Hat Linux 9.
Samba makes it possible for you to set up Linux computers as part of a Microsoft network. It can reduce the number of Microsoft operating systems that you need to purchase for your network. As of this writing, you don t need to pay for any Microsoft license to use Samba.
There is speculation that Microsoft is preparing legal action to stop free Samba connections to its networks. But I think a number of companies would oppose such efforts. In my opinion, as long as some of these companies back the people behind Samba, such legal action could take years , by which time other technologies could be available.
This chapter contains a few terms that are either exclusive to Samba or more closely related to the world of Microsoft networking. They include:
Primary domain controller (PDC) The computer that has the central database of usernames and passwords. It often also contains the central database of Microsoft Windows logon profiles.
Backup domain controller (BDC) This computer gets its information from a PDC. PDC and BDC are Windows NT concepts.
Browse list A list of shared resources on a network.
Browse master A computer in charge of maintaining a browse list for a network.
Domain A network with a centralized database of at least usernames and passwords. This concept is quite different from an Internet domain name .
Member Server Any computer on a Microsoft Windows network that shares directories or printers and is not a PDC or a BDC.
Peer-to-peer A group of computers on a LAN, each of which can act as a server; commonly associated with a workgroup.
Server A computer that shares directories or printers.
Share Any directory or printer that is shared on a network.
Workgroup A LAN without a dedicated server. Each computer is responsible for its own usernames and passwords; each computer often shares directories and printers with the rest of the LAN.
In this chapter, the term Microsoft server on a network can refer to any Microsoft operating system that shares directories or printers. It can also refer to a Samba server on a Linux computer.
Five basic packages are associated with Samba on Red Hat Linux. All you need to configure your computer as a Microsoft client is samba-client-* and samba-common-* . The other packages help you configure your computer as a server on a Microsoft-style network. These packages are summarized in Table 29.1
The basic Samba server package, this includes commands for matching Linux and Microsoft usernames and passwords.
This package allows you to set up your Linux computer to read shared Microsoft directories and print to shared Microsoft printers.
This package includes files required to support Linux as a Samba client and as a Samba server.
This GUI tool lets you modify the main Samba configuration files, especially smb.conf; if you don t need fine-grained control, you may consider redhat-config-samba as an alternative.
This is the alternative to samba-swat; it s simpler but less mature and allows less configuration control.