Linux samba server
Server Administration

Install, Access, Mount and Authenticate Linux Samba Server

Linux samba server is one of the powerful servers that helps you to share files and printers with Windows-based and other operating systems, it is an open-source implementation of the Server Message Block/Common Internet File System (SMB/CIFS) protocols.

This means you can use a Linux server to provide file sharing, print, and other services to other non-native Linux clients such as Microsoft Windows.


How SMB Works

To understand Linux/Samba/Windows relationship, you need to understand the relationships of the operating systems to their files, printers, users, and networks.

In Linux, the login/password mechanism is radically different from the Windows Active Directory model.

Thus, it’s important for the system administrator to maintain consistency in the logins and passwords across both platforms.

Users may need to work in different environments and may need access to the different platforms for various reasons. So it is useful to make working in such environments as seamless as possible without having to worry about users needing to authenticate again.

Relative to Samba, several options are available for handling username and password issues in different environments like:

  • Linux pluggable authentication modules (PAMs): this option allows you to authenticate users against a domain controller (DC). This means you still have two user lists, one local and one on the DC, but your users need to keep track of their passwords only on the Windows system.
  • Samba as a DC: this option Allows you to keep all your logins and passwords on the Linux system, while all your Windows boxes authenticate with Samba
  • Custom script: you can create scripts for maintaining logins and passwords, this can be done using a cross-platform scripting language like python.

The samba server composed of several components and daemons, the three main daemons are smbd, nmbd, and winbindd.

  • The smbd daemon handles the actual sharing of files and printers. It is also responsible for user authentication and resource-locking issues. This daemon uses port 139 or 445 to listen for requests.
  • The nmbd daemon is responsible for handling NetBIOS name service requests. This daemon uses port 137 to listen for requests, nmbd handles requests from master browsers, domain browsers, and WINS servers, like when you open My Network Places in windows. From Windows 2000, Microsoft moved to Domain Name System (DNS) naming convention as part of its support for Active Directory in an attempt to make name services more consistent between Windows My Network Places and the hostnames that are published in DNS so you shouldn’t need nmbd anymore unless you intend to allow very old Windows hosts on your network to access your Samba shares.
  • The winbindd can be used to query native Windows servers for user and group information.

Install Samba

To install Linux samba server, you need to install three packages.

For Red Hat based distros, you can install them like this:

$ dnf -y install samba

This package provides an SMB server.

$ dnf -y install samba-common-tools

This package provides files necessary for both the server and client.

$ dnf -y install samba-client

For Debian based distros, you can install them like this:

Then you can start samba service and enable at startup:

Samba File Sharing

Of course, you can use web-based or GUI utilities to manage your Linux Samba server. However, it is useful to understand what GUI or web tools are doing in the back-end.

So we will share a folder named myfolder:

$ chmod -R 755 myfolder

Now Open up Samba configuration file /etc/samba/smb.conf  and add the following lines at the end.

The first line is the name that SMB clients will see when they try to browse the shares stored on the Samba server.

The second line is the path to the folder that will be shared.

The third line means the share will available to all like guest account and others. If set to no, authenticated and permitted users are only allowed.

The fourth line means that you cannot create or modify the stored files on the shared folder.

You can check for SMB configuration errors using the testparm command:

$ testparm

Now restart SMB service:

$ systemctl restart smb

Access Samba Shared Files

Now we need to access what we’ve shared. The smbclient utility is a command line tool that allows your Linux-based system to act as a Windows client. You can use this tool to connect to other Samba servers or to Microsoft Windows servers.

smbclient can browse other servers, send and retrieve files from them.

$ smbclient -L localhost -U%

Here we list the shares on the Linux Samba server again without being prompted for a password using the -U% option.

Linux samba server using smbclient

As you can see our shared folder is on the list.

You can access this shared folder from windows by just typing the IP address in the windows explorer.


smbclient utility allows you to access files on a Windows server or a Linux Samba server like this:

$ smbclient -U% //

Once you’ve connected you can use Linux commands to list and travel between files.

You can transfer files using get, put, mget, and mput commands.

If you are using iptables firewall don’t forget to allow the ports 137,139 and 445. I recommend you to review Linux iptables firewall post.

Mounting Samba Shares

Most Linux kernels support SMB file system, you can mount a Windows share or Samba share onto your local system using the mount command.

First, we create a mount point:

$ mkdir /mnt/smb

Then we mount the SMB shared folder:

$ mount -t cifs -o guest // /mnt/smb

If the shared folder is password protected, then you should supply the username and password:

$ mount -t cifs username=likegeeks,password=mypassword //

To unmount the SMB shared folder use unmount command like this:

$ umount /mnt/smb

On Debian based distros, you might need installing the cifsutils package in order to use it:

$ apt-get -y install cifs-utils

Creating Samba Users

Here, we will add a sample user that already exists in the /etc/passwd file to the Samba user database.

To create a samba entry for an existing system user, use the pdbedit command:

$ pdbedit -a likegeeks

The new user will be created in the Samba default user database which is /var/lib/samba/private/passdb.tdb  file.

With a Samba user created, we can make the shares available only to authenticated users, such as the one we just created for the user likegeeks.

If the user likegeeks wants to access a resource on the Linux Samba server that has been configured strictly for him, he can do that using smbclient like this:

$ smbclient -U likegeeks -L //

If you want to change the SMB user password, you can use the smbpasswd command.

$ smbpasswd likegeeks

Authenticate Users Using Windows Server

The samba setup we’ve seen had its own user database which mapped to Linux users. But what if we wanted to deploy a Linux Samba server in an environment with existing Windows servers that are being used to manage all users in the domain, and we don’t want to have to manage a separate user database in Samba? Here winbindd is introduced.

The winbindd daemon is used for resolving user accounts information from native Windows servers.

First, install the winbind package.

$ dnf -y install samba-winbind

Then start the service like this:

$ systemctl start winbind

Then add the following options in /etc/samba/smb.conf file.

Then Edit the /etc/nsswitch.conf  file and modify the flowing lines:

Then Edit the /etc/resolv.conf  file and change primary DNS server:

Now join the Linux Samba server to the Windows domain using the net command:

$ net join -w WINDOWS-DOMAIN -s ' win-server' -U Administrator%password

You can list the users in windows domain using wbinfo command

$ wbinfo -u

For any problem diagnostics, you can check the samba log files under /var/log/samba/  directory, also use testparm utility to check your configuration after you modify samba configuration file.

That’s all. I hope you find the Linux samba server easy. Keep coming back.

Thank you.