Practical Technology

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Linux to Windows and back again with Samba

I see my buddy in technology writing, Preston Gralla, is having trouble getting his new Wubi-based Ubuntu 8.04 system to work with his Windows file systems and vice-versa. While some Linuxes, like Xandros and SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) come Windows network ready, most, like Ubuntu, require some Samba work.

Samba is an open-source program that provides file and print services to SMB (Server Message Block) and CIFS (Common Internet File System) clients and servers. What that means in English is that a Samba-equipped Linux system can both use and provide file and printer services for all three basic kinds of Windows LANs: P2P (peer-to-peer), NT Domain, and AD (Active Directory).

Of course to do any of that you have to have Samba installed in the first place. In Ubuntu, like any Linux, you can install and setup Samba with command-line tools. Most documentation assumes you’re going to use Linux shell commands and manually edit configuration files, but you don’t need to bother with all that. You can set up basic Windows file and print sharing with Samba in Linux as easily in Windows. Actually, more easily since, Vista, for example, by default fails with Samba-powered NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices. You can fix that problem, by the way, by following my notes on how to get Vista to work and play with Samba and NAS hardware.

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