Best distro for low maint samba server


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Thread: Best distro for low maint samba server

  1. #1
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    Question Best distro for low maint samba server

    Hi guys - long time no visit.

    I'm doing voluntary charity IT support whilst out of work to keep my hand in. Tomorrow I go on site here and will be retiring an old PIII from desktop service and am proposing to them they turn it into a sambas server. They'll likely let me take it home to reconfigure.

    They are running all windoze workgroups with a mixture of XP home, XP pro, and VISTA (not sure what edition).

    I'd like your advice on the distro and any considerations for Samba install on top of that.

    Asides from making it easy for me the other requirement will be that this is fairly idiot proof ongoing to administer. I'm ideally just setting this up and they may in future need some network change - is there a distro that lends itself to that sort of thing more than another? I don't want them to feel they've been left with something only I could look after - obviously it needs to sort itself out with a simple power up etc in case the cleaner unplugs it.

    I've used a samba server once before - it should play nice with all the windows stuff, no? ATM they're just sharing a drive on the VISTA machine, so it's not like we need to deal with an Exchange setup - that is what I am trying to save them from!

    Networking wise - they have one router with four ports and one four way switch. There are only four machines networked now, but I amgoing to add one, plus the server.

    One guy there is semi-IT literate, but mainly M$. My primary concerns are that I can configure it to work myself without too much hassle and then I can hand it over and they can run with it.

    Hopefully that's plenty of information for some informed advice.

    Many thanks.
    In the process of arriving at Debian after seeing the light with Bucky Badger, which will date me if we ever have a Zany Zebra

  2. #2
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    Depending on RAM just about any distribution will work if you do not run a desktop. I've never tried to get Vista to talk with a linux box. I would stick with one that you are comfortable with.

  3. #3
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    Under the assumption that you will have a low-end machine (considering PIII, assumption is limited RAM and IDE transfer speeds) and possible high end usage (a collection of people all accessing the same files at the same time) - I'd say your best bet is to go with a distribution that is either Debian-based or has a similar package manager to Debian's APT (I'm not just saying that because I prefer Debian ).

    The reasoning is:

    • With limited resources and high network usage (such as file server) you would see gains by not installing an X-Server (the GUI) and having a minimal install. This would reduce the hard drive space and RAM usage, allowing for more to be allocated to SAMBA.

    • Since you are foregoing the GUI, you will want an easy way to get updates. With apt, the command would be "apt-get update && apt-get upgrade". Since this is a script package manager that checks against a repository, you don't have to use a web browser or a GUI.

    If you go with Debian, I would suggest downloading their Net-Install disc (fits on a CD with room to spare) and when it gets to the task-sel portion (will ask if this is a desktop, laptop, etc. computer) just click cancel. This will give you a starting bare bones system without X or other large programs. You can then "apt-get install samba" and any other programs you need to get the server up and running with a small footprint.

    EDIT => In rereading I see you want to turn over to a person with limited or no Linux knowledge. You can save them from learning the command line by saving the "sudo apt-get update && apt-get upgrade && exit" into a text file in their home directory. Do a chmod +x <file> to make it executable. Then your instructions to them would be to login and type ./filename to do updates. This would update and log them out when done.
    Last edited by trilarian; 01-26-2009 at 02:10 PM.
    "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect."

    -Mark Twain

  4. #4
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    Thumbs up

    Thanks folks - looks like this is a good time to get "comfortable" with debian - so I'll see how I get on with that....
    In the process of arriving at Debian after seeing the light with Bucky Badger, which will date me if we ever have a Zany Zebra

  5. #5
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    debian rocks....basic net install shouldn't take more than 15 minutes, then just apt-get install samba, configure /etc/samba/smb/conf and go crazy:

    [global]
    log file = /var/log/samba/log.&#37;m
    socket options = TCP_NODELAY SO_RCVBUF=8192 SO_SNDBUF=8192
    encrypt passwords = true
    public = yes
    template shell = /bin/bash
    dns proxy = No
    server string = INSERTNAMEHERE
    local master = no
    netbios name = HERETOO
    os level = 16
    security = user
    preferred master = no
    max log size = 50
    hide files = /.*

    [mp3s]
    path = /mnt/sdd/mp3s
    comment = mp3s
    browsable = yes
    writable = no



    smbpasswd -a username
    smbpasswd -p username (enter password)

    BAM!

  6. #6
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    Since your signature indicates you use Ubuntu, you could easily use it for your Samba server. You would get all the benefits already discussed. Plus the Ubuntu forums which are very good.

    You might want to look into SWAT or Webmin. Both use a browser for an interface. This would provide a GUI experience without the overhead that an Xserver install would require.

    Webmin is more about whole system administration and includes Samba.

    SWAT is the Samba tool.

    Good Luck,

  7. #7
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    Why not just set up a FreeNAS system, it's small, has samba already setup.

  8. #8
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    Not that I am a power linux user or anything (been toying with it off an don for awhile now). I do however have a couple of freenas devices setup. They are running on some older Dell GX150 computers.
    Specs are:
    P3 900 mhz processor
    256 MB RAM
    One 20 GB drive used as the installed boot device.
    Three 40 GB drives used in a soft raid5 setup which gives me 80GB storage space.

    I loaded the systems using the cd-rom and installed on the 20 GB drive. Shutdown, removed cd-rom (no longer needed) and installed the three 40 GB drives.
    Setup the soft raid5 set and created the share (one big share. just public files).

    Uptime: 410 days, 22:33
    Last config change: Tue May 13 11:27:02 UTC 2008
    "68 65 63 6B 6C 65"

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by trilarian
    If you go with Debian, I would suggest downloading their Net-Install disc (fits on a CD with room to spare) and when it gets to the task-sel portion (will ask if this is a desktop, laptop, etc. computer) just click cancel. This will give you a starting bare bones system without X or other large programs. You can then "apt-get install samba" and any other programs you need to get the server up and running with a small footprint.
    Bingo! Ubuntu 8.04 (Server Edition) should also be a good choice (as teeitup has pointed out).

    @mrrangerman43 and heckle

    I was tempted to use FreeNAS for a file-server I recently built. It is a very fine distro (no doubt about that), but the UFS filesystem that it uses, turned me off. I don't know much about support for UFS in Linux, but I'm a lot more comfortable with JFS, ReiserFS or XFS, and the knowledge that a Linux LiveCD will bail me out in case of a screw-up.

    What do you guys say?
    Last edited by i845_; 01-29-2009 at 03:05 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by i845_ View Post
    I don't know much about support for UFS in Linux, but I'm a lot more comfortable with JFS, ReiserFS or XFS, and the knowledge that a Linux LiveCD will bail me out in case of a screw-up.
    That would be a reason for me to look elsewhere if I hadn't already had knowledge of how Debian works. I don't have anything against UFS itself - in fact I've had very little exposure to it - but many programs have it listed as experimental or beta for support if at all.
    "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect."

    -Mark Twain

  11. #11
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    Question part deux

    Finally got the boxen home to sort it since I was about complete with an on site install when someone kindly pulled the plug just as it was about to complete the downloads and install them

    Anyway, debian net install was indeed the WTG, even has a fileserver select option, so perfect given the drive I gifted is 20GB and I want to keep footprint down even thought their current needs amount to only 1 or 2 gig.

    I installed fine and all good - but am ensuring the access can be setup troublefree (remember though the file server is Samba the environment is a windoze workgroup). When I replicate the setup at home my windoze boxen get password prompted - can someone make a (hopefully) definitive cause/fix for this to speed my resolution? My ideas so far:-

    Do I have to add a Samba user for every windoze user logging in?

    Is it just that I have to make a media dir and chmod it to 777?

    Do I have to frig with WINS and the windoze end of networking (seriously prefer to leave windoze end as little altered as possible in case someone comes along after me and they want to revisit their server solution for whatever reason).

    I tried to do a smbpasswd -n but that did not seem to help.

    I'm mildly confused because windoze is prompting me for password access but even when I try the user or the route these are not accepted by the samba server.

    To be clear I am not worried about security of server access - prefer them to go in on user account as a precaution, but main requirement is simply blanket access with all privileges to the data portion of server (to mirror what they do now with one shared drive directory on a workgroup machine).

    HMMmmm perhaps this should have been a new thread... I've even been thinking about using one of the alternative solutions offered, but am developing an embrionic Debian bias so want to continue with that and keep it light for the 20G HD.
    In the process of arriving at Debian after seeing the light with Bucky Badger, which will date me if we ever have a Zany Zebra

  12. #12
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    I had a similar problem. I use webmin to manage my samba server, and to fix this I had to do two things. First I had to turn all users that are on the linux box to samaba users and then I enabled guest access with r/w access. I changed the entire contents of the samba share to be user:group -> nobody:nogroup as that was what the guest user was. On my wives box I get asked for the password one time cant remeber if i did guest or nobody but it hasnt asked again since.

  13. #13
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    What about mapping the samba share on every windoze machine useing the samba account.
    Then set it to reconnect at logon.
    Or is that to much work?

  14. #14
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    There is no need to ditch your install - this should just be a setting in your config file. Just remember that by turning off the password, anyone can access the shared files uninhibited. If this isn't a problem then great, it is just worth mentioning.

    I haven't done this myself (I prefer the user/pass) but browsing the man page I think this will work for you. You will want to add the bold lines from my example to your /etc/samba/smb.conf under your share section and restart sambe (/etc/init.d/samba restart). You will need to change foo to a local user on the machine (not root) with read/write access to your share.

    Code:
    [storage]
    comment = Storage (public files)
    writable = yes
    path = /path/to/files
    public = yes
    guest ok = yes
    guest account = foo
    browsable = yes
    "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect."

    -Mark Twain

  15. #15
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by mofg View Post
    What about mapping the samba share on every windoze machine useing the samba account.
    Then set it to reconnect at logon.
    Or is that to much work?
    small point you are missing there - I cannot even access the samba share never mind mapping it, I thought I made myself clear but I guess not. If I was workshy I would have had them spending big bucks and putting in M$ exchange or somesuch **** - rather than taking this old P3 boxen and resurrecting it to samba server I feel like I rose to the bait of feeding trolls now *bleauch*

    I'll get back on the other suggestions, that last looks most helpful.
    In the process of arriving at Debian after seeing the light with Bucky Badger, which will date me if we ever have a Zany Zebra

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