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Microsoft Open Source Linux

Samba: Less Important Because Windows Is Less Important 162

Jeremy Allison - Sam writes "Interview Bruce Byfield did with me after the Samba 4.0 release. Discusses interactions with Microsoft, the future of the code and project, and many other things."
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Samba: Less Important Because Windows Is Less Important

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  • First posting? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 )

    Still important :-P

    • Re:First posting? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aoteoroa ( 596031 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:08PM (#42550231)
      Samba is absolutely still important. We just take SAMBA for granted now more than ever because it is pre-installed everywhere in almost every appliance. For example buy a $20 internet 'router' from Best Buy that can share a connected USB drive over a LAN and it probably uses SAMBA for functionality.
      • Re:First posting? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:11PM (#42550265) Journal

        I use Samba at home for my media file shares, and probably still would have even if Windows interoperability wasn't an issue, it's widely supported by most non-Windows OSes (except iOS, the first OS where you need to pay to add on a Samba client. Progress!)

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I consider Samba the first option to share any file between any two machines on the same network, regardless of platform. Primarily because (almost) every platform supports it, and secondly because it is both easy to set up for quickly sharing something, and powerful to accommodate teams.

        • by tibit ( 1762298 )

          It's also easier to set up than nfs4+kerberos!

          • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

            No it's not. If you want the full functionality of NFS4+Kerberos, you need to set up your Samba server as a full Domain Member server in an Active Directory domain, which is quite a task in itself.

            • by tibit ( 1762298 )

              What I meant was that if all you want is file sharing between Linux machines, using smbfs and samba is easier than nfs4+kerberos.

              • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

                If you want the same level of authentication, then no, it is not easier.

                And if you don't care about authentication, then you can run nfs4 without kerberos, which is not harder than deploying samba without authentication.

                • by tibit ( 1762298 )

                  Same level of authentication? I thought NTLMv2 is pretty darn good. The only thing you lose by not using Kerberos is single sign-on, I'd think.

      • Re:First posting? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jeremy Allison - Sam ( 8157 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:23PM (#42550485) Homepage

        And it still probably won't come with an offer for source code (sigh :-).


      • Re:First posting? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by icebike ( 68054 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:41PM (#42550693)

        Samba is absolutely still important. We just take SAMBA for granted now more than ever because it is pre-installed everywhere in almost every appliance. For example buy a $20 internet 'router' from Best Buy that can share a connected USB drive over a LAN and it probably uses SAMBA for functionality.


        Samba is not seen as a big issue these days because it works so incredibly well. Software only gets your attention when it fails.

        As for Windows not being as important, that simply is not the case in corporate america. In fact the only reason Linux exists in the corporate world is because of Samba. Any growth if Linux in the server or workstation role is due principally to Samba, and without it there would be virtually zero Linux adaptation in the workplace. Businesses are natural mono-cultures when it comes to computing systems.

        • Re:First posting? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:53PM (#42550801)

          You say this while I've got a power point presentation open about our new "lets put everyone on Virtual machines and have them remote in via linux terminals!" Something I never thought I'd see. It's not going to happen tomorrow but we're never going to Windows 8 or above. That's relatively clear. Microsoft nailed their own coffin shut.

        • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

          So you have never heard of webservers?
          DNS? NTP? FTP?

          All of those are commonly run on Linux. Businesses are not natural mono-cultures. Lots of businesses use many different computing systems and it has been that way since there were computing systems.

        • Re:First posting? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @05:03PM (#42550903) Journal

          Strange, nearly 20 years and 10 companies as a Linux admin and Samba has always been a slight afterthought, rarely used. I always figured if it wasn't for exchange windows wouldn't even exist in the corporate world any more.

          • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @05:35PM (#42551285)

            FLASH: Man with Linux colored classes sees only Linux machines.
            Film at 11.

          • Yup outlook/exchange. I've never understood what is so great a technical challenge in developing open solutions that replace these well but when something pops up it seems to focus on only one piece of this or it provides calendar and email but as separate pieces within the suite and not tying and integrating all the pieces together the way exchange does.

            • There are great alternatives for Groupware. However people don't actually want exchange, they want outlook. It's a tool they are familiar with and have built up years of workflow around it. It's horrible, unstable, ugly, but people cling to it. It's a safety blanket.

              I reckon the current version of Zimbra is looking to be quite a suitable replacement and it's built using OSS products. There are paid for enterprise versions, which get you things like ActiveSync (presumably they have to pay MS for a license to

            • It's one of those "Too many competing, bad, standards" things combined with a lack of understanding, in my experience, by too many Linux people about why Exchange, and moreover the overall Windows infrastructure, supports the features it does.

              It seems to me to be ironic that the things certain "GNU/Linux should work like Windows!" advocates set out to copy were the least important, and arguably the worst examples: the insistence on a bloated application development framework for GNOME and GNOME 1's attem

            • Because a one-protocol-for-everything is an awful philosophy. It means that you can't change parts you don't like, or replace individual servers - since it's only own monolithic piece.
              Sure, it's easier for the end user - but that's just a matter of creating better clients with better support for autoconfiguration (for which standards exist).

          • Just don't forget the small businesses: it's not that people are idiots (though they are: I mean it as a statement of reality, not an insult) who don't want to learn or resist (though they do), it's that the small-to-mid are often pressed for time: I know a guy who is worried about taking extra seconds per transaction in the day to save hours at the end of the week when he has to do all his books over one day: if he took extra seconds by snapping a photo of estimates, invoices, etc., to send so I can do the
        • If you think Linux exists because of Samba, I'd like to remind you of a company called Oracle. They are the most important in corporate america. Windows doesn't mean shit in the big picture.

          • by icebike ( 68054 )

            I suggest you look at the link I posted. I think you will find you are utterly and hopelessly misinformed.

        • I'm sorry but you simply don't speak for what is the case in corporate america. The only place you see windows or samba needing to replace it is on desktops, file and print servers and often authentication ties (so as to support single sign-on) and exchange. In most of those cases it is only used because it easy and popular. And thanks to Samba 4 you could drop windows from all of that but exchange and the desktops. At the end of the day the main reason you use windows/samba for print/auth is that you alrea

          • by kenh ( 9056 )

            Most applications (especially the internal apps that drive a workplace) are going to be running on Linux and served up through a web interface.

            Put down the crack pipe, it's warping your mind.

            Corporate America runs on Windows desktops and laptops, and the vast majority of servers on the WAN are Windows. Webservers and other public-facing servers are a hodge-podge of various OS.

            The proof would be in the job postings on sites like,, etc. - I invite you to compare the number of Windows admi

            • "The proof would be in the job postings on sites like"

              That isn't proof of anything. You need 3 or 4 windows admins for every Linux admin required to administer the same number of systems. There is also far more turn-over in windows spots. Many organizations call the guys who work on those windows desktops and laptops admins as well. That and because some types of organizations require lots and lots of local offices and those organizations often are forced to deploy a windows server at each of those location

        • It works well when it's Windows to Windows or Windows to a stable version of SAMBA that is fairly modern.

          It's flakey between mixed hosts of Mac, Windows and Linux systems (like media servers) that are on different versions SAMBA.

      • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

        Yeah, except Samba 4 is less important than Samba 3.

        Samba is/was useful because it interfaces many different systems together, providing file and print services based on those other systems.

        Samba 4 doesn't do this. It is those "other systems" - it's the whole ball of wax, and you have no option to not make it be your DNS or authentication backend. This is almost entirely useless for eg. people using other systems for authentication as their backend (LDAP) already who do not want to make Samba 4, a stack whi

      • That being said, I'd MUCH rather use something that's better documented. SAMBA is used on all sorts of linux enabled media servers and the fact of the matter is it does not always work. Especially with other systems that are trying to implement SMB/CIFS like my Mac (no longer SAMBA from Apple) or media servers with differing versions of SAMBA the result is often buggy or something not working at all.

    • Unsurprisingly... ;) []

      Really makes Chrome devices a pain in the ass when it comes to network shares. :/

    • by mmell ( 832646 )
      Who modded this down? Somebody mod this back up. The post was on-topic, succinct and to the point.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:00PM (#42550101)

    Earlier today I read a man complaining to Slashdot that Linux only has two data sharing options "off" and "configure 400 settings." He was answerred with a post of "just use Samba."

    And then, this.

    • Re:Comedy silver (Score:5, Informative)

      by robmv ( 855035 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:20PM (#42550423)

      As the person who wrote that comment, I see no contradiction here. Samba 4.0 is needed because it updates everything adding Active Directory protocols. If for some reason all Windows system die tomorrow, Samba 4.0 is less important because the main use of it is Windows interoperability, actual samba is pretty useful for basic file sharing, and if you remove one of the uses of it to something, it become less important. Samba AD integration is not used for Linux system, it is just for Windows clients.

      A project to follow for equivalent functionality of AD for pure Linux system is FreeIPA (still a lot of development ahead but the architecture is good)

      • by Lashat ( 1041424 )

        AD inegration is important for small, medium, and large businesses if you want to connectivity to be "out of the box" easy.

        • by robmv ( 855035 )

          I don't see why AD integration is needed for a small business, even some medium ones, that only is true if you run Windows clients. I have clients running pure Linux environments (one that you can call medium sized, a Hospital), for what will I need AD integration?

          • by Junta ( 36770 )
            Simple, if a business has AD infrastructure, AD integration is important. I've seen AD infrastructures in place even in companies of no more than a couple dozen people.

            I'm not saying they couldn't have managed without it, but if the powers that be happened to pick AD, then that small business is using AD, whether you think it necessary or not.

            We aren't looking for 'is it possible for a small business to avoid AD', we are looking for 'is it true that *currently* AD is not a significant player in small to me
            • Samba is less important because windows is more open. Other than hosting cifs shares there is now little you can't do in the server room without Samba. Samba certainly makes things easier in that as others have pointed out "it just works". The fact is today AD is at the core the identity system many enterprises use.

              The good news is that with nss_ldap, the mit kerberos package and little else you are off to the races now. It takes a little setup Samba would do for you, but a couple cron jobs to keep kerb

            • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

              An ActiveDirectory infastructure is unlikely in anything but a "big business". Anything smaller is simply not going to bother.

              Certainly a "small business" isn't going to touch AD. They have neither the requirements nor the dedicated staff to manage it.

              AD is for environments large enough that they might be using LDAP in their server room.

              • by Junta ( 36770 )
                I've seen a lot of small businesses use AD. AD at that scale is *trivial* to 'manage. AD gets pretty hard when you have a large sprawling enterprise with complex organizational structure being modeled in the LDAP tree and a lot of third party 'enterprise' applications that want to use plain-old LDAP to interact with AD, forcing the administrators to understand the LDAP aspect of AD.

                That is not how small businesses use AD. They don't know what an OU is because they take the default, they have a single dom
        • I usually react to ad integration by switching to a different program . . .


      • Re:Comedy silver (Score:5, Insightful)

        by icebike ( 68054 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:51PM (#42550773)

        If for some reason all Windows system die tomorrow,

        Other than that 800 pound gorilla in the room, there is nobody else around....

        Hand waiving away 90% of the desktop OS users [] to make a point about samba being less important seems reaching at best.

        I think you could safely make the if for some reason Samba dies tomorrow, Linux in the workplace gets shoveled into the same grave.

      • by Junta ( 36770 )
        Though I wonder if, given Samba 4.0, FreeIPA is really that critical..

        You could either have Samba which can serve a pure Linux environment just fine or even cleanly cope with Windows servers.

        On the other hand, FreeIPA can serve a pure Linux environment, perhaps a strict subset of samba capability.

        I think FreeIPA was more critically important as it was a faster path to directory based authentication and claimed to be much more production ready than Samba 4.0 claimed to be. I think with Samba 4.0, an inflect
    • Hahahah ! Actually, that's comedy *gold*.

      man smb.conf :-).

  • Not important? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:12PM (#42550293)

    So, integrating old machines running legacy systems with newer/different platform servers is less important?

  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:31PM (#42550581)

    Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if the latest versions of the SMB protocol were a bit more asynchronous and high-performance. But using older versions, I found SMB (Samba on one end, CIFS on the other, in general), could not saturate a gigabit ethernet link, while NFS and AFP could. I kept using it because for compatibility but stuck with NFS or AFP for performance, AFP more now that Netatalk 3.x sucks so much less than Netatalk 2.x. (Netatalk 2.x suffered from various problems like random connection drops.)

    • by Jeremy Allison - Sam ( 8157 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:35PM (#42550619) Homepage

      It's all in how the server is configured, and if the client will pipeline requests.

      I can easily saturate a gigabit network using modern Linux CIFSFS and Samba. Ensure you turn on pthread based aio on the server, and the client now issues multiple outstanding read/write requests.

      SMB2 makes this easier as it does this by default even on Windows clients. Ensuring your server has the pthread-based aio is the key though (depending on server CPU availablilty - on low end systems some OEM's get more mileage by using zero-copy sendfile/recvfile instead).


    • Take a look at SMB3 (released with Windows 8/Windows Server 2012) and I believe with experimental support in Samba 4(?). Massive improvements in speed, bandwidth utilisation and overall chattiness. It's quite a different beast.

  • by cait56 ( 677299 ) * on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:38PM (#42550669) Homepage
    Thinking that Samba is less important because "Windows is less important" is definitely off target. The obvious implication of the statement is that if Samba is less important then NFS is. I certainly am not aware of any trend there. CIFS and NFS both remain valid NAS protocols. To the extent that "Windows is less important" because PCs are less important then you are dealing with some serious trends in storage.

    One trend is the growing use of virtual disks in VMs to provide storage. This is just stupidity. Shared files server users far better than virtual disks do. Files are not created for OSs, they are a mechanism for sharing information between users.
    The other trend is away from NAS and towards object storage. That is a good trend, but not one that will make NAS protocols obsolete anytime soon.
    • by snadrus ( 930168 )
      I have seen many consider NFS (sharing-side) laborious versus RDP and seeing the files where they are.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:45PM (#42550715)

    I had it in my career too. Back in the mid-90s, Linux was used sparingly in certain industries and Windows dominated the workplace. To survive, Linux systems did almost always have to play ball.

    That balance *has* changed, but not quite that much, though perception of what is going on is very very contingent on career path. About 2003 or so, I was going from place to place with significant Linux footprint, but unavoidable Windows instances. As my experience progressed, opportunities that I pursued afforded me the chance to gravitate to nearly Linux exclusive businesses and organizations. If you are a top notch Linux developer, your reality will change so that Windows will not be a large role.

    In relatively recent history, my career has had me participate in more wider sampling of companies with significantly complex IT organizations, despite my recent Linux-exclusive career. I realized that while *my* world had changed, the business world at large was still where it was about 7 years ago with respect to Windows footprint.

    Particularly someone as renouned as Allison is likely to have his world changed for more than typical...

  • Interview Bruce Byfield did with me after the Samba 4.0 release.

    Next week, Hulk interview Steve Ballmer. Goodnight puny humans!

  • or is it still at the alpha release?
  • In the world of industrial automation, windows unfortunately seems to reign supreme. Just about every development environment for PLC and PAC controllers is windows and .Net based. And as of late, PC based automation (think PC based PLC/PAC) is becoming more popular and guess what is the primary platform? Windows. You might be thinking "How the hell can windows be used in a hard real-time application?" Well it is possible and the first time I ever saw it was in the Aerotech A3200 platform. Its a pretty neat

  • by hirschma ( 187820 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @01:43PM (#42559573)


    Since you're hanging about, let me take the opportunity to say thanks for making such a vital, useful and wonderful piece of software - and thanks to the rest of the Samba team, too.

    I've used it at work over the decades, I use it at home even now. It's made my life better. That is not at all hyperbole.

    I know that this is Slashdot, but it wouldn't hurt to say thanks, right?


The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court