Frequently Asked Questions about Samba

Questions

  1. What is a Samba Domain?
  2. If my college supplied Windows computer is not connected to the network but is a member of the Domain can I still login to it?
  3. If my Windows computer is not in the Domain can I still access my Samba files?
  4. What is SMBmapper and why is it necessary?
  5. I tried to move a file between two Samba shares but had a disconnection error. Why does this happen and what should I do?
  6. How will permission to access files and folders be different on Samba from Novell?
  7. Why are some of the folders I see with Samba in different places than they were with Novell?
  8. Why are there more shares with Samba than there were with Novell?
  9. When I login to Samba, do all of my shares need to come up?

Questions and Answers

  1. What is a Samba Domain?
  2. Lafayette's Samba servers mimic a Windows Domain database to store user accounts and security information for files and folders. Any Windows computer in an ITS computer lab or supplied by ITS to faculty or staff will be a Domain member and to access such a computer, users will login to the domain using their Lafayette NetID. For more information see Connect to Samba from Windows 7 Lab or ITS-Provided PCs (domain members)

  3. If my college supplied Windows computer is not connected to the network but is a member of the Domain can I still login to it?
  4. Yes, your Windows computer will cache your credentials so that you can login to it using your NetID even if that computer is not on the Network. If you change your NetID password using password.lafayette.edu, then your computer will still require your old password to get past the login screen until you put your computer back on the Lafayette network and join the Domain again so that the passwords can be synchronized.

  5. If my Windows computer is not in the Domain can I still access my Samba files?
  6. Yes. ITS will fully support this option and students will need to do this with their personal Windows computers as they will not be Domain members. To do this see Connect to Samba from Windows 7 personal PCs (non-domain members).

  7. What is SMBmapper and why is it necessary?
  8. SMBmapper is a program developed and supported by ITS to allow a Mac user to easily mount his/her shamba shares. Running SMBmapper on a Mac on the Lafayette network and supplying a NetID and password should result in all of the Samba shares that the user has access to becoming available in the Finder. For information on how to use SMBmapper see Connect to Samba from a Mac.

    SMBmapper is not technically necessary if you know all of the shares that you need access to, but because there are so many shares, as explained in the FAQ "Why are there more shares with Samba than there were with Novell?", SMBmapper makes it easier for a Mac user to access their Samba shares. This is because a Windows computer connecting to the domain uses MSDFS to map a single drive containing links to the shares to which that user has rights. Because Macs do not support MSDFS, our solution is SMBMapper, which reads user rights from the file server, and automatically mounts each of the shares to which that user has access.

  9. I tried to move a file between two Samba shares but had a disconnection error. Why does this happen and what should I do?
  10. Copying files directly from one networked Samba share to another is not supported. Instead you should copy the file or folder to your local computer then copy it up to the Samba share.

    In more detail, when you copy files from samba-share-A to samba-share-B, the permissions on the file remain as they were for samba-share-A. The back end servers seem to treat this as a file move and just change the file pointer instead of doing a copy of the data. While this is certainly more efficient in terms of time and network resources, the downside is that the file tends to have permissions that make it inaccessible by anyone other than the person who moved it there.

  11. How will permission to access files and folders be different on Samba from Novell?
  12. Novell's permissions, or rights, for a file or folder support up to seven different types. Samba permissions are simple and support only read or write to a file or folder. ITS will migrate all data from Novell to Samba and then set permissions using a permissions converting program to accommodate whatever access was granted on Novell. For more information see the FAQ "Why are there more shares with Samba than there were with Novell".

  13. Why are some of the folders I see with Samba in different places than they were with Novell?
  14. See the answer to the FAQ "Why are there more shares with Samba than there were with Novell?" below.

  15. Why are there more shares with Samba than there were with Novell?
  16. This difference is driven by the different way that Novell and Samba handle user rights, so we need to understand those first. Rights, in general, control who has read and/or write access to a given file or folder. In Novell, there were two types of rights, Inherited and Trustee. When rights were set on a particular folder, they were "inherited" by each successive file and folder within it. Trustee rights could also be set for any file or folder, allowing a person or group access to that resource, despite not having Inherited rights to it. Here is an example of what that would look like:

    Folder A contains folders B and C. All three of these folders also contain several files. Bob's rights are set to allow him to view folder A. As a result, Bob automatically gets inherited rights that allow him to see folders B and C, and all files in folders A, B, and C. Alice is assigned Trustee rights to folder C. As a result, Alice can see Folders A and C, and all the files in C, but she cannot see the other files in A, or folder B.

    In Samba Trustee rights do not exist. Each share is given a set of rights, and those are inherited to any files and folders within it. Since there is a lot of cross-departmental collaboration, Lafayette has a fairly complex set of sharing rights. In Novell, this resulted in many folders several levels deep having Trustee rights assigned to them. In Samba, those folders are now their own shares. Thus, you will see more shares, and some folders that used to be several levels deep will be at the top level. Since the total number of shares increased significantly, we have implemented Microsoft Distributed File System (MSDFS) to simplify the user experience.

  17. When I login to Samba, do all of my shares need to come up?
  18. No, they don't.

    If you don't want to automatically connect to all of your shares when you login, then you can configure the Samba server to only connect to your preferred shares. To set your preferred shares go to https://smblinker.lafayette.edu/, login with your NetID, and click "Control which Samba shares are automatically mounted". After logging in you'll be presented with a list of all your available shares with a checkbox next to each share like this:

    Check only the shares that you want automatically mounted when you login and then click "Update". In the above example jetsong has set a preference for only the share called Public to be mounted and for the share smb-testers not to be mounted when he logs in. You must log out and log back in for the configuration change to take effect the first time. After that you will only connect to your preferred shares when you login, unless you return to https://smblinker.lafayette.edu/ and update your preferences.

Tech Lounge Hours

Monday - Thursday
12 - 7 p.m.
Friday
12 - 5 p.m.
Sunday
4 - 7 p.m.