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1.7 What's New in Samba 2.0?

Samba 2.0 was an eagerly-awaited package. The big additions to Samba 2.0 are more concrete support for NT Domains and the new Samba Web Administration Tool (SWAT), a browser-based utility for configuring Samba. However, there are dozens of other improvements that were introduced in the summer and fall of 1998.

1.7.1 NT Domains

Samba's support for NT Domains (starting with version 2.0.x) produced a big improvement: it allows SMB servers to use its authentication mechanisms, which is essential for future NT compatibility, and to support NT domain logons. Domain logons allow a user to log in to a Windows NT domain and use all the computers in the domain without logging into them individually. Previous to version 2.0.0, Samba supported Windows 95/98 logon services, but not NT domain logons. Although domain logons support is not complete is Samba 2.0, it is partially implemented.

1.7.2 Ease of Administration

SWAT, the Samba Web Administration Tool, makes it easy to set up a server and change its configuration, without giving up the simple text-based configuration file. SWAT provides a graphical interface to the resources that Samba shares with its clients. In addition, SWAT saves considerable experimentation and memory work in setting up or changing configurations across the network. You can even create an initial setup with SWAT and then modify the file later by hand, or vice versa. Samba will not complain.

On the compilation side, GNU autoconf is now used to make the task of initial compilation and setup easier so you can get to SWAT quicker.

1.7.3 Performance

There are major performance and scalability increases in Samba: the code has been reorganized and nmbd (the Samba name service daemon) heavily rewritten:

1.7.4 More Features

There are several additional features in Samba 2.0. You can now have multiple Samba aliases on the same machine, each pretending to be a different server, a feature similar to virtual hosts in modern web servers. This allows a host to serve multiple departments and groups, or provide disk shares with normal username/password security while also providing printers to everyone without any security. Printing has been changed to make it easier for Unix System V owners: Samba can now find the available printers automatically, just as it does with Berkeley-style printing. In addition, Samba now has the capability to use multiple code pages, so it can be used with non-European languages, and to use the Secure Sockets Layer protocol (SSL) to encrypt all the data it sends across the Internet, instead of just passwords.[7]

[7] If you reside in the United States, there are some federal rules and regulations dealing with strong cryptography. We'll talk about his later when we set up Samba and SSL in Appendix A, Configuring Samba with SSL.

1.7.5 Compatibility Improvements

At the same time as it's becoming more capable, Samba is also becoming more compatible with Windows NT. Samba has always supported Microsoft-style password encryption. It now provides tools and options for changing over to Microsoft encryption, and for keeping the Unix and Microsoft password files synchronized while doing so. Finally, a Samba master browser can be instructed to hunt down and synchronize itself with other SMB servers on different LANs, allowing SMB to work seamlessly across multiple networks. Samba uses a different method of accomplishing this from the Microsoft method, which is undocumented.

1.7.6 Smbwrapper

Finally, there is an entirely new version of the Unix client called smbwrapper. Instead of a kernel module that allows Linux to act as a Samba client, there is now a command-line entry to load the library that provides a complete SMB filesystem on some brands of Unix. Once loaded, the command ls /smb will list all the machines in your workgroup, and cd /smb/server_name/share_name will take you to a particular share (shared directory), similar to the Network File System (NFS). As of this writing, smbwrapper currently runs on Linux, Solaris, SunOS 4, IRIX, and OSF/1, and is expected to run on several more operating systems in the near future.


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