Practical Technology

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The SMB Blues

SMB (Server Message Block) is the network protocol glue that binds together many file and print servers and clients for Windows and Linux, but it’s recently been running into some trouble. First, Microsoft’s proprietary take on it, SMB2, has real security problems. Next, Likewise has released a new open-source SMB/CIFS (Common Internet File System) file server software stack to share files among Linux, Mac, Unix and Windows computers, which, in the past, had been based on Samba, the popular open-source SMB server. Samba’s leadership is not happy with this.

To bring you up to speed, SMB was created by IBM to help make Windows-based file systems available on a network. It became extremely popular, Today, it’s probably the most popular of all network file systems both for Windows and Unix/Linux systems.

Microsoft tried, and failed, to keep this a proprietary system. In 2007, European Union court decisions forced Microsoft to open up the protocol. Samba, which earlier had reverse-engineered SMB/CIFS, was legally allowed access to the protocol.

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