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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...

Talkback:
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
 



 
 
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Cheaper Than You Think
 
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Linux's Holes
 
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Fear Of Heights
 
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What Else Did We Forget?
 
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Desktop Linux?
 
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Learning To Samba
 
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The Bottom Line
 
 
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Caldera Takes Linux To The Next Level
 
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Linux vs. Microsoft: The FUD Report
 
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SCO and TurboLinux Join Linux Forces
 
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A Linux and Windows Marriage
 
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