Using the Samba Protocol to Access Windows Shares and Files


1.The Problem Statement

As soon as you migrate from the Windows Desktop to the Novell Linux Desktop(NLD) the one thing we may want to do during initial phases of migration from Windows desktop to Novell Linux desktop(NLD) is accessing the Windows Work groups and shares on the various windows machines so that you will be able to transfer all the data. The next step is to find a way of accessing the Work groups and windows machines shared data. There is one such technology because of which we can do it easily by using a protocol called Server Message Block(SMB) which allows the NLD users to do the above said things seamlessly.

SMB is basically a client-server, request-response protocol for sharing the files,printers and others between the computers. Most of the windows machines are running SMB as a client, server or both. SMB can be used with TCP/IP, NetBEUI and IPX/SPX protocols.

The requests and responses that are interchanged between the client and servers are referred as SMBs. SBM is available with most versions of UNIX, Windows,VMS and other operating systems. Although the primary use of the SMB is to share the files , it can be used for other purposes like:

  1. Finding the SMB protocol supporting servers or browsing the machines on Windows networks.
  2. Printing over networks.
  3. File/Directory authentication based access.

Figure 1: SMB interactions between the client and the server using request-response messages.

The Solution

The two major things that will be covered as part of the solution are:

  • Accessing the Windows work groups or domains.
  • Accessing the Windows machines and shares.

1. Accessing the Windows work groups or domains

Before knowing how to access the Windows work groups or domains it essential to understand the basic difference between the two. A Work group is basically a collection of the computers that maintain their own security information in a De-centralized manner. A Domain is also a collection of the computers where the security information is controlled in a centralized manner which is usually done by a set of domain controllers under a particular domain.

A work group can be easily accessed by using the File Manger utility available in the Accessories of the Novell Linux Desktop (NLD) main menu as shown below:

Figure 2: Here we are seeing the work group by name “workgroup” being accessed using the SMB through File Manager.

We can also see all the work groups that available by using File Manger utility as shown below:

Figure 3: Accessing all the work groups using SMB.

Here the only difference between accessing a particular workgroup and all the work groups is that we will not use any workgroup name in the location box.

2. Accessing the Windows machine and shares.

The process of accessing a Windows machine or a Windows share is same; the only difference is that for accessing the shares you need to give the machine name and the shared folder name while we only give the workstation name to access a machine.

A Windows machine can be easily accessed by using the File Manger utility available in the Accessories of the Novell Linux Desktop (NLD) main menu as shown below:

Figure 4: Here we are accessing a Windows network machine by using its host name.

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