Once you’ve configured your hostnames, you’re ready to provide services to hosts on the network. To provide printer and file sharing, Windows uses a facility known as the Server Message Block (SMB). This same facility is sometimes known as the Common Internet File System (CIFS), NetBIOS, or LanManager. Thanks to Andrew Tridgell and others, Linux systems provide support for SMB via a package known as Samba. Like SMB, Samba lets you:

  • Authorize users to access Samba resources

  • Share printers and files among Windows, OS/2, Netware, and Unix systems

  • Establish a simple name server for identifying systems on your LAN

  • Back up PC files to a Linux system and restore them

Samba has proven its reliability and high performance in many organizations. According to the online survey at, Bank of America is using Samba in a configuration that includes about 15,000 clients, and Hewlett-Packard is using Samba in a configuration that includes about 7,000 clients.

Installing the Samba Server

If you’ve never installed and configured a network server, Samba is a good place to begin; its installation and configuration are generally straightforward.

The Samba server includes the nmbd and smbd programs (which run as daemons), several utility programs, manpages and other documentation, and three configuration files: /etc/samba/smbusers, /etc/samba/smb.conf, and /etc/samba/lmhosts. The smbusers file associates several user accounts that are special to ...

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