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Nov 1, 1999 Issue

Can You Trust This Penguin?
Learning To Samba

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, Sm@rt Partner

Strictly speaking, Samba, the open-source Common Internet File System (CIFS) file and print server, isn't a Linux product at all. Samba also can be found providing Windows NT file and print services for FreeBSD, SCO UnixWare and even Solaris (thanks to Veritas Software Corp.).

With Samba, almost any Unix machine can be transformed into an NT server, at least from an end user's viewpoint. Samba also is fast. In our recent review of Samba, we found that on modest single-processor systems, Samba's NT services ran rings around NT's own services.

Samba isn't perfect, but most horror stories about its use are exaggerated. Reports of corporations being halted in their tracks by someone placing a Samba system in an NT network as a primary domain controller (PDC) are completely misleading. Any NT network would come to a howling halt with NT systems dueling for PDC superiority. As an ordinary server or a backup domain controller (BDC), a Samba-equipped Linux box works as smooth as silk on NT networks. In one Sm@rt Reseller branch office, we've been running a pair of Samba boxes with NT PDC and BDC boxes since March. During that time, we've never seen a hint of a conflict.

Fast, stable and secure--so what needs improvement? Lots of things, according to Jeremy Allison, a leading Samba developer and SGI engineer.

Support for Samba as a PDC is a major, ongoing issue, which is "'bloody hard." NT printer-driver support is almost there, but almost only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades--not printers.

Another "exciting" project is WinBind. When successful, WinBind will replace Linux user and group authentication with NT PDC access. In brief, Samba users will have only a single log-in for access to all CIFS, NT, and Samba file and print services. Currently, on hybrid NT/Unix networks, a user must log in to the Linux box and then log in to the NT side to access all available drives.

Samba also currently lacks the ability to map NT access control lists (ACLs) to Portable Operating System Interface for Unix (Posix) ACLs. But, it can map NT ACLs to standard Unix permissions. For many potential customers--especially federal government offices--Posix compliance will make Samba solutions much more compelling.

As it sits, Samba only works with the ASCII character set. SGI's Allison is working to build Unicode support into Samba. Unicode is an ASCII superset used to represent up to 65,356 characters instead of ASCII's 256. That is important because Unicode is the character representation set of choice for most non-Roman alphabets. Practically speaking, Samba will become more viable for international customers after that change is implemented.

Finally, the Samba team isn't just working on making Samba a better NT than NT within its range. The group already is working on Windows 2000 "down- level" compatibility--the same level of Windows 2000 interoperability that NT 4 will have under Windows 2000 networks.

Face it: Thanks to Samba, Microsoft-style file-and-print serving is now as ubiquitously available on Unix servers as it is on NT. Even better, it's faster than NT on modest servers--and more stable.

Advantage: Samba.

Previous page... Text continues...

2.4 will support large memory. ... - Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
"On low-powered, uniprocessor s... - Kirk Sanders
Linux 2.4 will support up to 64... - Oliver Henning
OpenSource benefits everyone. ... - Robert Flash
A check on the HP site shows Op... - Eric Fletcher
Just to dispel some myths here.... - Justin Penney
Correction: Linux has a journal... - Peter Bryant
LVM is available. If interes... - Mike Field
Might I suggest that the author... - Scott Marlowe
Hmm, looks like most of the wea... - Ben Wilson
Thanks for putting the the TCO ... - Sanjeev Sharma
COM APIs My Arse. To all of ... - Grega Bremec
TCO comparison is still wrong. ... - Ken Broadfoot
This story is a little old so a... - Kevin Forge
NT clusters only TWO computers ... - Scott G. Prive
TCO for Linux is a bit overstat... - Arne W. Flones
The lack of a common gui widget... - Michael Torrie
OK, Linux is good low end serve... - Roger Irwin
NT with SP3 is outdated since a... - Erik Putrycz
CODA for file sharing Althuo... - Richard Corfield
Your comparative admin costs ar... - Dave Fisher
IN defense of NT, I find it int... - Richard Hiltz
Ken Broadfoot had some doubts a... - Mike Avery
Clustering Software is availabl... - Neuroserve
OpenView on Linux is... shall w... - Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
SANs JFSs, and so on. Yup, i... - Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
NT4 SP3 are old. No one, not ev... - Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
Where is BSD? This article igno... - Darby Daemon
TCO. Well, it's like this. ... - Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
Hmmmmm....something's wrong... ... - I.M. Batman
Here at a fortune 200 company, ... - Ralph Martelly
Sorry if this has been covered ... - John Frazier (Inprise/Borland)
I don't know about limited clus... - Paul Anderson
Always UP-OS/2Warp for Ecommerc... - David Kubit
It's already been said that NT3... - Da Dude Abides
If the NT server crashed every ... - Terry Mickelson
Since we're taking "wonderful" ... - Pat Chefalo
No E-mail address, location, an... - Joseph A. Klatt
Once again here you go .. WINDO... - Bubba
I have a Linux box at work and ... - Dave Winslow
Look at Freebsd at freebsd,org ... - Thomas J Starling
All this talk about Linux is go... - Darryl Lyle
NT Unstable? Easy to administer... - Eric Larson
Why aren't you running a Novell... - Ab Kurk
I like articles like this. They... - Tony Hall
You forgot to mention Macintosh... - Chris Briggs
I have WinLinux2000 installed o... - Annie
You need both for either server... - James Ottringer
The new SUSE is shipping with a... - Kevin Schaefer
X11 reduces TCO v-e-r-y much...... - Mark Aitchison
When the system can be as easy ... - Bryson Riordan
I did not see BeOS in the repor... - Tim Cox
Tim, BeOS isn't ready for the s... - Dan O'Bryant
After deploying numerous NT ser... - Anthony
I really appreciate the amount ... - Roy Nielsen
I just love all the hype about ... - JD Haas
I was reading the above comment... - Jim Dean
Rebooting NT.. I find it funny... - Richard Thomas
I've have seven NT machines run... - Tim
One of the earlier posts mentio... - Charles King
Why even bother comparing...Mic... - Eddie
I can't see why any server woul... - Dennis Achterberg
Can you trust Corel? Don't both... - Gergely Hajdu
check out staroffice! it does p... - peter lustig

Story Navigation
Can You Trust This Penguin?
Cheaper Than You Think
Linux's Holes
Fear Of Heights
Loose Links
What Else Did We Forget?
Desktop Linux?
Learning To Samba
The Bottom Line
Related Links
Caldera Takes Linux To The Next Level
Linux vs. Microsoft: The FUD Report
SCO and TurboLinux Join Linux Forces
A Linux and Windows Marriage
Microsoft Re-Fans The Anti-Linux Flames
Linux InfoPack
More Techno
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