[olug] Samba, Windows clients, and pulling my hair out

Lou Duchez lou at paprikash.com
Wed Jan 23 04:18:21 UTC 2013

Mostly I'm posting this in case anyone else is having trouble with 
Samba.  I think I got it worked out.

I set up a Samba share, I gave it a NetBIOS name, I figured out how to 
let it allow guest access (no particular authentication).  So far so 
good.  Then I tried setting up another share, but requiring 
authentication.  No matter how much I tried, I couldn't get a Windows 
computer to authenticate.  When I tried to connect from the Windows 
command line, after entering the password, I would get the super-helpful 
message "System error 5 has occurred".

My first clue as to what was going on was the fact that I could 
authenticate if I used the server's IP address rather than the NetBIOS 
name I'd assigned it.

Here is the long and short of it: I was trying to get to my Samba share 
via its NetBIOS name -- "\\TERWILLIKER\protectedshare" or whatever -- 
and that's not a good move.  Windows has trouble keeping track of the 
Samba share via NetBIOS, such that it may be able to find the share and 
try to authenticate, but then it gets all confused.  If you're going to 
rely on NetBIOS, you also probably have to go to the trouble of setting 
up a WINS server to support your NetBIOS name, otherwise your clients 
are going to connect inconsistently at best.  You can't even get around 
it by putting an entry in \Windows\System32\Drivers\Etc\Hosts, because 
that depends upon Windows being bright enough to consistently recognize 
your NetBIOS name as such and not just a zone to prepend to your domain 

What you CAN do is assign a FQDN to your server; that's something 
Windows and Linux see eye-to-eye on.  You can even put the FQDN in your 
\Windows\System32\Drivers\Etc\Hosts; it'd look something like this: terwilliker.com

So after that you'd access your share like:


or even


After that, Samba seems to work per the documentation.

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