Samba (Software)

Samba is a free software suite that enables, among non-Microsoft operating systems, Microsoft Windows features such as file and print services, and the role of a domain controller, and thus an Active Directory to emulate. It implements this included the SMB / CIFS protocol.

Since the software is available for free under the GPL license, it is used as an alternative to Microsoft Windows Server operating systems.


Samba was first published in 1992 by Australian Andrew Tridgell, to enable the exchange of data between SunOS and DOS without NFS. Later, Samba has also been ported to Linux, what the operating system brought a huge spread in the file server segment and has contributed to its further success. The newly developed by a community of volunteer programmers software has been steadily expanded to include the contributions of other companies for Server Message Block protocol. The extensions of the SMB protocol ancestral including Microsoft, SCO, Thursby, IBM, Apple and the Samba Team itself, Microsoft made ​​the most posts and kept secret as the only company some extensions. However, since a smooth data exchange without these secret extensions was not always possible, had to be a part of the SMB protocol be developed by evaluating the network traffic ( Protokoll-/Netzwerkanalyse ).

After differences in the architecture of Samba in 2000 divided the project Samba -TNG from the main project with the aim of defining a primary domain controller (PDC ) to develop for Windows NT domains, a functionality which was in the main branch until now still not stable available.

For solid core of the developer community of Samba includes approximately 20 people. Some companies, such as IBM, provide financial and personnel support or are even some employers Samba developers.

In the version number Samba-3 is the ability to run Samba as a member server in an Active Directory domain, but not as a domain controller. Samba-3 can emulate only domain controller of the outdated Windows NT 4.0 - type, but this is sufficient for many networks manageable size. In it, a second Samba server also assume the role of a backup domain controller (BDC ). Since version 3.5 Samba also supports the introduced with the Windows Vista operating system from Microsoft proprietary new version of the SMB protocol named SMB2.

While Samba-3 is also currently still being maintained, the focus is now on Samba 4 The biggest new feature of the new version is the development of an Active Directory domain controller and for necessary infrastructure. In addition, the management tool SWAT has been greatly improved, so that it can also be used to manage an Active Directory domain via the Web. Samba 4 was originally launched as a completely new development and should replace Samba 3 as soon as it met the stability requirements. Meanwhile tends that Samba 4 supplement its previous version by adding the Active Directory domain controller functionality rather than to completely replace. Samba 4 was released in December 2012 for production use.

Components and graphical user interfaces

Samba is composed of a series of individual modules which serve to function as well as the basic configuration.

The core modules are the daemons samba ( Active Directory emulation version 4 ), smbd (file and printer sharing ), nmbd ( the NetBIOS name resolution) and winbindd ( Benutzer-/Gruppen-Zuordnung ).

For the configuration of Samba there are a number of GUIs, such as:

  • The Samba own browser-based module SWAT ( Samba Web Administration Tool )
  • A module for the browser-based configuration tool Webmin
  • The tool gsambad as part of the collection gadmintools
  • The browser-based LDAP Account Manager to manage user accounts
  • Opportunities for shared folder in the user interfaces of the KDE and Gnome project
  • Management interfaces of further products such as Univention Corporate Server and Zentyal


Almost all Linux distributions include Samba and thus provide access to file shares in mixed networks where, for example, Windows is used. Even in homogeneous Unix networks, Samba, and thus the SMB protocol, often used instead of the NFS protocol.

In addition, Samba is often part of further hardware (such as NAS) and software products that facilitate the installation, configuration and management of the software and also often offer their manufacturers commercial support.

Access to the protocol documentation

In the early 90s, Microsoft and the Samba Team had a good and productive relationship, were exchanged at the interface data. However, this changes with a new interface policy from Microsoft Windows 95 On 20 December 2007, however, agreement is reached on the orders of the European Union between Microsoft and the " Protocol Freedom Information Foundation " ( PFIF ), which Microsoft is committed, all the necessary provide information about " Microsoft Workgroup Server " to fully communicate with this can. The Agreement provides that this information is only the PFIF and the Samba Team accessible. For this, the agreement allows the publication of the source code of implementations of these interfaces so that the interfaces are disclosed so indirectly. Patents are not affected by the agreement, however.

"We are very pleased to be able to get access to the technical information Necessary to continue to develop Samba as a Free Software project. Although we were disappointed the decision did not address the issue of patent claims over the protocols, it was a great achievement for the European Commission and for enforcement of antitrust laws in Europe. The agreement Allows us to keep Samba up to date with recent changes in Microsoft Windows, and thus helps other Free Software projects did need to interoperate with Windows. "

"We are delighted to have access to the technical information needed to develop Samba as a free software project. Although we were disappointed that the decision did not address the claims protocol, it provides an outstanding success of the EU Commission and the enforcement of antitrust law in Europe Represents the agreement allows us to keep Samba with the latest changes in Microsoft Windows Step to leave, and also helps other free software projects that need to interact with Windows. "

As an expression of a now again more relaxed relationship between Microsoft and the Samba project may also be that Microsoft employees in 2011 for the first time participating actively in the Samba development.