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1. General Information

All about Samba - what it is, how to get it, related sources of information, how to understand the version numbering scheme, pizza details

1.1 What is Samba?

Samba is a suite of programs which work together to allow clients to access to a server's filespace and printers via the SMB (Server Message Block) protocol. Initially written for Unix, Samba now also runs on Netware, OS/2 and VMS.

In practice, this means that you can redirect disks and printers to Unix disks and printers from Lan Manager clients, Windows for Workgroups 3.11 clients, Windows NT clients, Linux clients and OS/2 clients. There is also a generic Unix client program supplied as part of the suite which allows Unix users to use an ftp-like interface to access filespace and printers on any other SMB servers. This gives the capability for these operating systems to behave much like a LAN Server or Windows NT Server machine, only with added functionality and flexibility designed to make life easier for administrators.

The components of the suite are (in summary):

The suite is supplied with full source (of course!) and is GPLed.

The primary creator of the Samba suite is Andrew Tridgell. Later versions incorporate much effort by many net.helpers. The man pages and this FAQ were originally written by Karl Auer.

1.2 What is the current version of Samba?

At time of writing, the current version was 1.9.16. If you want to be sure check the bottom of the change-log file.

For more information see What do the version numbers mean?

1.3 Where can I get it?

The Samba suite is available via anonymous ftp from The latest and greatest versions of the suite are in the directory:


Development (read "alpha") versions, which are NOT necessarily stable and which do NOT necessarily have accurate documentation, are available in the directory:


Note that binaries are NOT included in any of the above. Samba is distributed ONLY in source form, though binaries may be available from other sites. Recent versions of some Linux distributions, for example, do contain Samba binaries for that platform.

1.4 What do the version numbers mean?

It is not recommended that you run a version of Samba with the word "alpha" in its name unless you know what you are doing and are willing to do some debugging. Many, many people just get the latest recommended stable release version and are happy. If you are brave, by all means take the plunge and help with the testing and development - but don't install it on your departmental server. Samba is typically very stable and safe, and this is mostly due to the policy of many public releases.

How the scheme works:

1) when major changes are made the version number is increased. For example, the transition from 1.9.15 to 1.9.16. However, this version number will not appear immediately and people should continue to use 1.9.15 for production systems (see next point.)

2) just after major changes are made the software is considered unstable, and a series of alpha releases are distributed, for example 1.9.16alpha1. These are for testing by those who know what they are doing. The "alpha" in the filename will hopefully scare off those who are just looking for the latest version to install.

3) when Andrew thinks that the alphas have stabilised to the point where he would recommend new users install it, he renames it to the same version number without the alpha, for example 1.9.16.

4) inevitably bugs are found in the "stable" releases and minor patch levels are released which give us the pXX series, for example 1.9.16p2.

So the progression goes:

1.9.15p7 (production) 1.9.15p8 (production) 1.9.16alpha1 (test sites only) : 1.9.16alpha20 (test sites only) 1.9.16 (production) 1.9.16p1 (production)

The above system means that whenever someone looks at the samba ftp site they will be able to grab the highest numbered release without an alpha in the name and be sure of getting the current recommended version.

1.5 What platforms are supported?

Many different platforms have run Samba successfully. The platforms most widely used and thus best tested are Linux and SunOS.

At time of writing, the Makefile claimed support for:

* SunOS * Linux with shadow passwords * Linux without shadow passwords * SOLARIS * SOLARIS 2.2 and above (aka SunOS 5) * SVR4 * ULTRIX * OSF1 (alpha only) * OSF1 with NIS and Fast Crypt (alpha only) * OSF1 V2.0 Enhanced Security (alpha only) * AIX * BSDI * NetBSD * NetBSD 1.0 * SEQUENT * HP-UX * SGI * SGI IRIX 4.x.x * SGI IRIX 5.x.x * FreeBSD * NeXT 3.2 and above * NeXT OS 2.x * NeXT OS 3.0 * ISC SVR3V4 (POSIX mode) * ISC SVR3V4 (iBCS2 mode) * A/UX 3.0 * SCO with shadow passwords. * SCO with shadow passwords, without YP. * SCO with TCB passwords * SCO 3.2v2 (ODT 1.1) with TCP passwords * intergraph * DGUX * Apollo Domain/OS sr10.3 (BSD4.3)

1.6 How can I find out more about Samba?

There are two mailing lists devoted to discussion of Samba-related matters. There is also the newsgroup, comp.protocols.smb, which has a great deal of discussion on Samba. There is also a WWW site 'SAMBA Web Pages' at, under which there is a comprehensive survey of Samba users. Another useful resource is the hypertext archive of the Samba mailing list.

Send email to Make sure the subject line is blank, and include the following two lines in the body of the message:

subscribe samba Firstname Lastname subscribe samba-announce Firstname Lastname

Obviously you should substitute YOUR first name for "Firstname" and YOUR last name for "Lastname"! Try not to send any signature stuff, it sometimes confuses the list processor.

The samba list is a digest list - every eight hours or so it regurgitates a single message containing all the messages that have been received by the list since the last time and sends a copy of this message to all subscribers.

If you stop being interested in Samba, please send another email to Make sure the subject line is blank, and include the following two lines in the body of the message:

unsubscribe samba unsubscribe samba-announce

The From: line in your message MUST be the same address you used when you subscribed.

1.7 Something's gone wrong - what should I do?

# *** IMPORTANT! *** # DO NOT post messages on mailing lists or in newsgroups until you have carried out the first three steps given here!

Firstly, see if there are any likely looking entries in this FAQ! If you have just installed Samba, have you run through the checklist in DIAGNOSIS.txt? It can save you a lot of time and effort.

Secondly, read the man pages for smbd, nmbd and smb.conf, looking for topics that relate to what you are trying to do.

Thirdly, if there is no obvious solution to hand, try to get a look at the log files for smbd and/or nmbd for the period during which you were having problems. You may need to reconfigure the servers to provide more extensive debugging information - usually level 2 or level 3 provide ample debugging info. Inspect these logs closely, looking particularly for the string "Error:".

Fourthly, if you still haven't got anywhere, ask the mailing list or newsgroup. In general nobody minds answering questions provided you have followed the preceding steps. It might be a good idea to scan the archives of the mailing list, which are available through the Samba web site described in the previous section.

If you successfully solve a problem, please mail the FAQ maintainer a succinct description of the symptom, the problem and the solution, so I can incorporate it in the next version.

If you make changes to the source code, _please_ submit these patches so that everyone else gets the benefit of your work. This is one of the most important aspects to the maintainence of Samba. Send all patches to, not Andrew Tridgell or any other individual and not the samba team mailing list.

1.8 Pizza supply details

Those who have registered in the Samba survey as "Pizza Factory" will already know this, but the rest may need some help. Andrew doesn't ask for payment, but he does appreciate it when people give him pizza. This calls for a little organisation when the pizza donor is twenty thousand kilometres away, but it has been done.

Method 1: Ring up your local branch of an international pizza chain and see if they honour their vouchers internationally. Pizza Hut do, which is how the entire Canberra Linux Users Group got to eat pizza one night, courtesy of someone in the US

Method 2: Ring up a local pizza shop in Canberra and quote a credit card number for a certain amount, and tell them that Andrew will be collecting it (don't forget to tell him.) One kind soul from Germany did this.

Method 3: Purchase a pizza voucher from your local pizza shop that has no international affiliations and send it to Andrew. It is completely useless but he can hang it on the wall next to the one he already has from Germany :-)

Method 4: Air freight him a pizza with your favourite regional flavours. It will probably get stuck in customs or torn apart by hungry sniffer dogs but it will have been a noble gesture.

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