Simplified SMB Configuration: Part 1

In the first installment of this SMB tutorial, Emmett walks you through the first few steps of configuring SMB on a Windows home network, using Fedora 8 as an example.

If you've been wanting to try Linux but are worried about how you'd make a distribution work with your home network, relax. Some things just manage to get simpler over time -- and SMB configuration is definitely one of those.

This month, we'll walk through the first part of SMB configuration, using Fedora 8 on a Windows-based home network as an example.

SMB.CONF: The Configuration File
Essentially everything related to Samba and SMB configuration on the Linux side is done through the /etc/samba/smb.conf file. Like many configuration files on Linux, this one contains a plethora of comments to make it easy to understand the purpose of each of the different sections.

Once upon a time, it was commonplace to manually edit and configure this file, but those days are becoming more distant with each release as graphical utilities simplify the steps to creating and changing the entries.

Though it's now possible to go for years without manually editing the file, I strongly encourage you to read through it so you understand its sections and know what to do in the event you need to do some troubleshooting. Here, I'll walk through making changes using the utilities and show the changes they make to the file.

Configuring Authentication
Access the authentication configuration by choosing the System menu, then Administration, and Authentication. If you're not logged in as root, you'll need to give the appropriate password to continue.

Once the Authentication Configuration dialog comes up, choose the Authentication tab (as shown in Figure 1) and check the box for Enable SMB Support.

Figure 1
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Figure 1. Choose to Enable SMB Support within Fedora's authentication configuration interface.

Next, click the Configure SMB button, which brings up the dialog box shown in Figure 2. On a home-based network, you're likely using only a workgroup and don't have a domain controller, so you need only enter the name of the workgroup (MYGROUP is the default, and you must change this to your workgroup's name). If you're using a domain controller, skip the workgroup field and enter the appropriate name in the second field.

Figure 2
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Figure 2. Choose to configure either the workgroup or network.

The entries changed here go into the global section of the smb.conf file and will resemble the following:

[global]
workgroup = D_S_TECH
security = user
idmap uid = 16777216-33554431
idmap gid = 16777216-33554431
template shell = /bin/false
winbind use default domain = false
winbind offline logon = false

Configuring Enable Samba Access
You must enable Samba access through the firewall (ports 137-139 and 445) in order to be able to communicate. To do this, choose System, Administration, Firewall (again, you may have to give the root password if you're not already logged in as such), and then enable Samba, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3
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Figure 3. Configure the firewall to allow Samba traffic through.

After applying the change, choose to access a shared resource on your server. Figure 4 shows the dialog box that appears.

Figure 4
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Figure 4. Be sure to change the name from MYGROUP to your network's name.

There's one key item to note: For some reason, even though the name was changed earlier, MYGROUP will occasionally appear in this box and you'll have to change it here for the access to work. If you have more than one network, as shown in Figure 5, you'll want to configure both of them.

Figure 5
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Figure 5. If you have more than one network, configure access to each.

Now, before you become too frustrated if things aren't working the way you anticipated, go to System, Administration, Services, and turn on SMB (see Figure 6). The smbd daemon must be running in order for you to have full access to the network.

Figure 6
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Figure 6. Make certain the service is running or you'll be sure to get frustrated quickly.

Next Month
With the basics out of the way, next month we'll further examine the configuration of SMB and see what must be done on the Windows side of the network, as well as examine how to share printers.

About the Author

Emmett Dulaney is the author of several books on Linux, Unix and certification, including the Security+ Study Guide, Fourth Edition. He can be reached at eadulaney@comcast.net.

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