Samba on a Linux Server


Backup /etc/samba/smb.conf  before toying with it! Copy it somethings like /etc/samba/smb.bak or /etc/samba/smb.orig for the original and bak for files that you are modding along the way to getting this working. I admit Samba was a bit of a pain to get working, I fussed around a bit on the server and the Windows machines until success occurred.

One mistake I made was to name the folders by the paths as they appear on the server. Bad idea, Microsoft Windows did not like forward slashes and denied access to the folders. Using slashes and perhaps other non-alphanumeric characters are a no-no in the server folder names.

Make Folders on the Server

I created folders named /files/public and /files/erick on the server. More can be added for additional users. What I am doing with the folders is backing up user profiles from Windows machines in the /files/user folders. The public folder is going to hold things like install files for the Windows machines, anti-malware & etc tools, C compiler and DOS DOS-UNIX equivalent tools and so on.

I executed the following commands on the server…

sudo mkdir /files
cd /files
sudo mkdir public
sudo chmod 777 public
mkdir erick

I believe I did a chmod to 777 on files as well. I made the erick directory with my own credentials, I am owner. Directory is created as a 775 by default…

rwxrwxr-x 2 erick erick 4096 Dec 10 21:12 erick

Later on I created a renee folder. Same drill, I did an su and logged in as the user renee after I created the account and ran a mkdir renee under files.

You need to create a Samba password for yourself and any users. Make it the same as the password that you log into the Win machines, especially important if you want to access home folders.

The command for adding a Samba user and password is…

smbpasswd -a user
Linux Users

While on the users topic adding a Linux user with a home directory is accomplished with the following command…

sudo useradd -d /home/username -m username

Adding the password, don’t skip this, if you forget to do this it will cause problems down the road and it might take a while to figure the problems out.

sudo passwd username

There is a command that can take the contents of the skel directory /etc/skel,  into a users home directory. This sets up the files and folders. Normally this will happen when you use the -d /home/username option on useradd. But if you create a user without a home directory and add one later the following command may be helpful…

mkhomedir_helper username

I followed the method above to add a user renee and then created a /files/renee directory on the server.

Editing the smb.conf file

For the following, I opened my /etc/samba/smb.orig and etc/samba/smb.conf files in the eMacs editor and differenced them. The gray lines and sections show the changes, I have highlighted them with red rounded rectangles for clarity. The biggest change is at the bottom of the file where I added code to allow access to the /files/public, /files/erick and /files/renee directories.

Global Settings Changes in smb.conf
Changes under Global Settings in smb.conf
Changes under Global Settings in smb.conf
Authentication Section changes in smb.conf
Changes under Authentication in smb.conf
Changes under Authentication in smb.conf
Share Definitions sections changes in smb.conf.

This is optional and will allow the home directories of the users to be made accessible with read/write access on the network. In this section the changes are post the most part the uncommenting of the grayed out lines that you see below. I think the only change beyond that was setting read only = no.

Share Definitions sections changes in smb.conf
Share Definitions sections changes in smb.conf
Section added to tail of smb.conf for user defined directories

Follow this example to add your own directories to be accessible from the Windows network.

Don’t use any slashes in the names in the [brackets]. I imagine a lot of non-alphanumeric characters will make this fail. Slashes were my problem. I was trying to be clever and using things like [/files/erick]. Also I went to using an underscore instead of a space in the names. This makes it work better from the Windows CLI and scripts, space does not always translate well. I have had issues with scripts where it takes the first part of the folder name and thinks the 2nd part is a switch to the command or something, resulting in failure. Basically the DOS like Windows CLI (Command Line Interface) environment does not like spaces!

I have not tried setting browsable to no. I imagine it can be only access by knowing the names of the files and probably by navigating using the CLI from Windows. This would be acceptable for the two named directories as they are only backup directories and I don’t imagine I would have to browse to the often.


Section added to tail of smb.conf for user defined directories
Section added to tail of smb.conf for user defined directories

Samba needs to be restarted any time you change the smb.conf file. Use the command….

sudo service smbd restart

…to restart.

Windows Machine

The Windows machine needs to be set to the same workgroup. It is best to have the same user names and passwords to both the Win users and the Samba users, in this manner all will work including home file sharing. When you make changes, sometimes you have to log out and in to the Windows user for them to take effect or else you get errors like the folder is not accessible, and other like it about permissions. Windows will prompt for a username and password to access folders as well, especially if the users and passwords do not match between Windows and the Samba server.

smbclient command

Running smbclient -L servername from the server is a good sanity check that the shares are showing up and that the server actually sees the Windows network. If this looks good generally you are in business with Samba at least from the server side.

erick@ubuntuserver:/etc/samba$ smbclient -L ubuntuserver
Enter erick's password:
Domain=[MSHOME] OS=[Unix] Server=[Samba 3.6.3]

        Sharename       Type      Comment
        ---------       ----      -------
        homes           Disk      Home Directories
        print$          Disk      Printer Drivers
        Erick_Backup    Disk      Erick's Files at /files/erick
        Renee_Backup    Disk      Renee's Files at /files/renee
        Public          Disk      Public Files at /files/public
        IPC$            IPC       IPC Service (ubuntuserver server (Samba, Ubuntu))
        erick           Disk      Home Directories
Domain=[MSHOME] OS=[Unix] Server=[Samba 3.6.3]

        Server               Comment
        ---------            -------
        RENEECOMPUTER        Renee's Computer
        UBUNTUSERVER         ubuntuserver server (Samba, Ubuntu)

        Workgroup            Master
        ---------            -------
        MSHOME               RENEECOMPUTER

smbstatus command

Executing smbstatus from the server command line can tell you what computers are connected and if any files are locked. Try executing it while file operations are in progress to see how it behaves. After seeing it in operation, what is going on becomes obvious for the most part. Without any computers connected to Samba folders, nothing interesting is reported. This means that this tool be helpful troubleshooting Samba if you can’t even connect to the folders. But may be of use to troubleshoot issues when all is working OK and then an issue arises. I also have a script that runs and allows the server to shut down when idle, it executes smbstatus as a test to see if any computers are using Samba so the server won’t shutdown while Samba is in use.

It has command line options which I haven’t explored much myself yet.

For the man page on smbstatus


The next topic in this series is…
Installing OwnCloud rounds out the server


There is a good YouTube tutorial online that runs through the basics of setting Samba up on Ubuntu Server 12.04. It worked for me.

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