Samba's fame and popularity come from its ability to serve pervasive Microsoft Windows clients, but SMB/CIFS clients are also available on a wide variety of platforms and operating systems from desktops to handhelds, running your choice of Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, or any number of other operating systems. By providing SMB/CIFS support on heterogeneous systems, you can standardize your local area network, allowing everybody to use, for instance, the cross-platform OpenOffice.org suite (http://www.openoffice.org). Users on Windows, Linux, and OS X systems will be able to access both local and remote documents in the same fashion. Files can be shared by saving them to the SMB/CIFS share just as if it were a local hard disk. This method can also be part of a migration strategy for moving users from one operating system to another.
The most transparent means of accessing SMB/CIFS file shares is to provide a filesystem that understands the protocol. In this chapter, we explore the native SMB/CIFS filesystem support available on Linux, OS X, and FreeBSD systems.
In the absence of an SMB/CIFS filesystem, you can turn to tools provided by Samba, such as smbclient . Although command-line utilities do not provide the seamless integration of a filesystem, they are extremely portable. This portability means that you can develop your own administration scripts utilizing smbclient and be assured that they will run on Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, or any other Unix server on which Samba is available.
Finally, we examine some of Samba's tools that can help you to perform remote administration tasks from Unix clients. One example is the net tool, which can perform common tasks such as managing users and groups, restarting services, and rebooting servers.