Name resolution is critical to Samba’s operation, because names are used to find the servers that share files or printers. Network browsing takes the task of finding servers to a new level of sophistication by allowing a user to delve down into a hierarchy of networks, domains, hosts, and services offered by each server. Although there are many ways to locate services on a network—such as the Service Location Protocol (SLP), Universal Plug-and-Play (UPnP), or even use of LDAP queries to search Active Directory—our focus is solely on Samba’s role in browsing NetBIOS-based services.
Name resolution and browsing are not difficult to configure. However, some complexity is introduced by the variety of available name-resolution systems. Historically, Unix and other TCP/IP users have moved from a flat hosts file to the DNS, with the NIS or LDAP directory services as other popular choices. Meanwhile, Microsoft moved from a broadcasting system to a simple, LAN-only name server called WINS, and then to DNS.
All of these historical name resolution systems are still in use today. Finding a host is so crucial to networking that sites want robust name-resolution systems with fallback mechanisms in case the main system fails. Browsing is also complicated by the frequent need to show hosts in other subnets. This chapter shows you how to configure your network to handle name resolution and browsing any way you want.
Some of the differences between ...