Using Samba

Using Samba

Robert Eckstein, David Collier-Brown, Peter Kelly
1st Edition November 1999
1-56592-449-5, Order Number: 4495
416 pages, $34.95

Buy the hardcopy

Table of Contents

Previous: 3.3 An Introduction to SMB/CIFS Chapter 4 Next: 4.2 Special Sections

4. Disk Shares

In the previous three chapters, we showed you how to install Samba on a Unix server and set up Windows clients to use a simple disk share. This chapter will show you how Samba can assume more productive roles on your network.

Samba's daemons, smbd and nmbd, are controlled through a single ASCII file, smb.conf, that can contain over 200 unique options. These options define how Samba reacts to the network around it, including everything from simple permissions to encrypted connections and NT domains. The next five chapters are designed to help you get familiar with this file and its options. Some of these options you will use and change frequently; others you may never use - it all depends on how much functionality you want Samba to offer its clients.

This chapter introduces the structure of the Samba configuration file and shows you how to use these options to create and modify disk shares. Subsequent chapters will discuss browsing, how to configure users, security, domains, and printers, and a host of other myriad topics that you can implement with Samba on your network.

4.1 Learning the Samba Configuration File

Here is an example of a Samba configuration file. If you have worked with a Windows .INI file, the structure of the smb.conf file should look very familiar:

	log level = 1 
	max log size = 1000
	guest ok = no
	browseable = no
	map archive = yes
	path = /usr/tmp
	guest ok = yes
	printable = yes
	min print space = 2000
	browseable = yes
	read only = yes
	guest ok = yes
	path = /export/samba/test

Although you may not understand the contents yet, this is a good configuration file to grab if you're in a hurry. (If you're not, we'll create a new one from scratch shortly.) In a nutshell, this configuration file sets up basic debug logging in a default log file not to exceed 1MB, optimizes TCP/IP socket connections between the Samba server and any SMB clients, and allows Samba to create a disk share for each user that has a standard Unix account on the server. In addition, each of the printers registered on the server will be publicly available, as will a single read-only share that maps to the /export/samba/test directory. The last part of this file is similar to the disk share you used to test Samba in Chapter 2, Installing Samba on a Unix System.

4.1.1 Configuration File Structure

Let's take another look at this configuration file, this time from a higher level:


The names inside the square brackets delineate unique sections of the smb.conf file; each section names the share (or service) that the section refers to. For example, the [test] and [homes] sections are each unique disk shares; they contain options that map to specific directories on the Samba server. The [printers] share contains options that map to various printers on the server. All the sections defined in the smb.conf file, with the exception of the [global] section, will be available as a disk or printer share to clients connecting to the Samba server.

The remaining lines are individual configuration options unique to that share. These options will continue until a new bracketed section is encountered, or until the end of the file is reached. Each configuration option follows a simple format:

option = value

Options in the smb.conf file are set by assigning a value to them. We should warn you up front that some of the option names in Samba are poorly chosen. For example, read only is self-explanatory, and is typical of many recent Samba options. public is an older option, and is vague; it now has a less-confusing synonym guest ok (may be accessed by guests). We describe some of the more common historical names in this chapter in sections that highlight each major task. In addition, Appendix C, Samba Configuration Option Quick Reference, contains an alphabetical index of all the configuration options and their meanings. Whitespaces, quotes, and commas

An important item to remember about configuration options is that all whitespaces in the value are significant. For example, consider the following option:

volume = The Big Bad Hard Drive Number 3543

Samba strips away the spaces between the final e in volume and the first T in The. These whitespaces are insignificant. The rest of the whitespaces are significant and will be recognized and preserved by Samba when reading in the file. Space is not significant in option names (such as guest ok), but we recommend you follow convention and keep spaces between the words of options.

If you feel safer including quotation marks at the beginning and ending of a configuration option's value, you may do so. Samba will ignore these quotation marks when it encounters them. Never use quotation marks around an option itself; Samba will treat this as an error.

Finally, you can use whitespaces to separate a series of values in a list, or you can use commas. These two options are equivalent:

netbios aliases = sales, accounting, payroll
netbios aliases = sales accounting payroll

In some values, however, you must use one form of separation - spaces in some cases, commas in others. Capitalization

Capitalization is not important in the Samba configuration file except in locations where it would confuse the underlying operating system. For example, let's assume that you included the following option in a share that pointed to /export/samba/simple :


Samba would have no problem with the path configuration option appearing entirely in capital letters. However, when it tries to connect to the given directory, it would be unsuccessful because the Unix filesystem in the underlying operating system is case sensitive. Consequently, the path listed would not be found and clients would be unable to connect to the share. Line continuation

You can continue a line in the Samba configuration file using the backslash, as follows:

comment = The first share that has the primary copies \
          of the new Teamworks software product.

Because of the backslash, these two lines will be treated as one line by Samba. The second line begins at the first non-whitespace character that Samba encounters; in this case, the o in of. Comments

You can insert comments in the smb.conf configuration file by preceding a line with either a hash mark (#) or a semicolon (;). Both characters are equivalent. For example, the first three lines in the following example would be considered comments:

#  This is the printers section. We have given a minimum print 
;  space of 2000 to prevent some errors that we've seen when
;  the spooler runs out of space.

	public = yes
	min print space = 2000

Samba will ignore all comment lines in its configuration file; there are no limitations to what can be placed on a comment line after the initial hash mark or semicolon. Note that the line continuation character (\) will not be honored on a commented line. Like the rest of the line, it is ignored. Changes at runtime

You can modify the smb.conf configuration file and any of its opt