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Using Samba (2nd edition) Jay Ts, Robert Eckstein and David Collier-Brown
Published by O'Reilly and Associates
539 pages
£ 28.50
Published: February 2003
reviewed by John Collins
   in the September 2003 issue (pdf), (html)

This book covers all aspects of Samba, the suite of software for interfacing with Windows networks. Samba lets you provide a Unix or Linux host as an emulated Windows share, including file and printer access. The client programs allow transfer of files to and from Windows hosts with appropriate shares set up. There is a bewildering array of options and facilities to fit into almost any environment and with any desired level of security.

The chapters of the book introduce Samba, giving an overview of its history and antecedents, describe installation on Unix servers, configuring NT domains, Unix client access, the all-important configuration file, name resolution and browsing, advanced disk sharing concepts, users and security, printing, some miscellaneous information and troubleshooting. Seven appendices give example configurations, a quick reference to configuration options, summary of daemons and commands, how to download the latest source version, compilation configure options, running Samba on Mac OS X and the GNU free documentation licence.

I think this book covers the whole subject extremely well. Particularly important to me, as it has caused a lot of grief in the past, was the whole thorny subject of encrypted and unencrypted passwords and different versions of Windows and options in the Samba configuration file. This is covered comprehensively, and the various options explained well. Some of the more bizarre options, e.g. certain aspects of printing, are well-explained also.

The book gives specific examples of how to do things both at the Windows end and the Unix or Linux end with copious illustrations and with links and web references to follow up various points. The reference appendices are helpful and index is pretty good. I didn't feel that the authors ever strayed off-topic either.

I think that O'Reilly books can be a bit variable in quality, and I know that the animal (in this case a bird, an African ground hornbill) theme on the fronts of each irritates some, but this is definitely one of the best I have come across and I am sure anyone who needs to do any work with Samba will find it indispensable.

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