All major Linux distributions ship with Samba, the Server Message Block/Common Internet File System (SMB/CIFS) server for Unix-like systems. This server package enables Linux to serve files and printers to Windows clients, providing a reliable and low-cost platform to fill this role. In fact, despite some fundamental differences between the Linux/Unix and Windows platforms, Samba handles its duties so well that Samba servers are often more trouble-free than their Windows counterparts, so network administrators have sometimes gone to great lengths to deploy Linux running Samba rather than Windows in this role.
This chapter describes basic Samba configuration, starting with installing the server. Other topics include the configuration file format, how you identify the server to other computers on the network, minimal options to help Samba get along with other systems in terms of its browsing features, and setting password options. You must set these basic features before you can move on to the next topic, configuring file and printer shares; that topic is covered in Chapter 4.