Now how to set the Samba password?

I’m, guessing this is probably the reason why my Share is not allowing logons. It’s no doubt possible in the way that I did it for Ubuntu but I would like to find out if there is a quicker and more reliable (considering my console knowledge) of doing it. Time to RTFM. The online documentation for configuring Samba, I found here.

Hiding those Shares

The first thing I discovered is that if you go to the Samba Server section of YaST and disable all of those pesky system shares, they no longer pop up in Network Places. Cool, huh? I hope this doesn’t disable functionality, but I guess I’ll find out later.


I found the Samba configuration stuff here. The bit that has worked is:

30.4.2 Web Administration with SWAT

An alternative tool for Samba server administration is SWAT (Samba Web
Administration Tool).
It provides a simple Web interface with which to configure the
Samba server. To use SWAT,
open http://localhost:901 in a Web browser and log in as
user root.
If you do not have a special Samba root account, use the system
root account.

NOTE: Activating SWAT

After Samba server installation, SWAT is not
activated. To activate it, open
Network Services>Network Services
(xinetd) in YaST, enable the network services configuration,
select swat from the table, and click Toggle Status (On
or Off).

Once this has opened in a browser, click on the PASSWORD button and enter a Samba username & Password. Then click on Add New User. This is the username and password that Windows uses to access the share. Clicking on the Shares button, followed by the Advanced button shows you the permissions of the selected share. This confirmed that R/W permisssons were enabled.

Final confirmation was reading a file from the File Server to Windows and performing the reverse operation. Success at last!


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Next stages in Samba Configuration

Network Places reports success

Looks good so far, the File Server has appeared in Workgroup Computers and when opened shows half a dozen shares! I don’t want that many available. Groups is requesting a user logon, and Homes has frozen my Explorer – grrrr. I’ve been here before with Ubuntu and this is a real beaut of a crash. Even giving it the old three fingers and task manager can’t get out of it and neither can Shutdown in order to restart the offending Windows PC. The only solution is the BRB – the Big Red Button!!! I’ll be back later, coz I know this machine is going to die for a while due to this. I remember why I wanted Linux.

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openSuse installs well, but what about Samba?

Laptops finally installed

Each of the two laptops have openSuse 10.2 installed on them. Amazingly, after they both rejected the other distros (and the HP pavilion rejected XP), they are both running openSuse well. OK, the slower laptop is a bit kludgy, but less kludgy than it used to be with Windows installed (which for some reason won’t go back on!).

Laptop 1 (the Toshiba Tecra) was an interesting install. The setup window was only two-thirds visible on the screen. In order to get to the Accept/Cancel buttons at the bottom of the screen, and therefore invisible, I had to press TAB and then Return – hoping that I had hit the right button. After several amusing, finally frustrating, attempts it installed very well. The graphical stage setup at the end of installation allowed me to set the screen resolution and even the screen ratio perfectly. I am very impressed with the result.

File Server Resurrected

After removing the 120 Gb drive, the old FS only had 80Gb left, but Suse 10.2 installed on it with no problems at all. I do notice that Suse uses a Reiser file system for formatting its partitions rather than ext2 or ext3 that Ubuntu used. This is still rather a mystery to me – what are the differences/advantages? Dunno yet.

How do I configure Samba in openSuse?

Ah yes, the system I learned from the Micro Mart magazine for Ubuntu did not, of course, work. So, I started browsing through the ‘Computer’ menu. This is the sequence that I have tried so far.

  1. Select Computer>More Applications…
  2. A window pops up with sections corresponding to the old familiar menus. I went to the System section and selected YaST (Administrator Settings).
  3. Enter the root password for Administrator privileges.
  4. Click on Network Services, which shows you two entries on the right hand side that have got to be important. Samba Server and Windows Domain Membership. Sounds easy so far.
  5. Click on Samba Server. It starts up, showing the Shares Tab.
  6. Reading the help bit on the left sidebar, I click on the Filter button and ‘Do not show System Shares’.
  7. That leaves me with two entries: /home/groups and /home. Mmmmm..
  8. I flick back to the File Browser and create a Folder in my home directory called ‘smbshare’ that I intend to share and return to the YaST program.
  9. OK, so next I go for the ‘Add…’ share button.
  10. It wants a Share Name – I call it Share, a description – ‘Windows files’, leave the Directory radio button ticked and Browse for the Path.
  11. Leaving the other options unchanged, I clilck OK and return to the Shares Tab (Damn, I’ve got to select the filter again to clear the list), and there is my Share. I also put an X in the box to allow users to share their directories with other users. I’m hoping that enables the Linux machines to talk to each other.
  12. Click on the Start-up Tab and select start the service during Boot and Open Port in Firewall.
  13. On the Identity Tab, I set Workgroup as ‘MSHOME’ – the name of the Windows Workgroup the rest of my LAN is used to operating in. I also leave the Domain Controller section set to ‘Not a PDC’ as we’re just using workgroups and no domain serving.
  14. I’m not sure about the NetBIOS settings or any of the Advanced settings so I leave them alone. Phew!

Windows Domain Membership

  1. Domain or Workgroup is set at MSHOME. Wel, that’s got to be good.
  2. I then click Browse, expecting to see my workgroup listed, and disappointment strikes – nothing!
  3. On closing, it informs me that Samba-Winbind has to be installed, so I agree.

Well, that flummoxed me. Obviously, something is not working. In true Windows style, let’s try a Restart. 😉


Wrong about Suse Linux

I have just discovered that the links I gave earlier were correct, but that Suse is available as openSUSE and is free. It can be downloaded from here. I think the difference is that you can pay for support from Novell. Now to download the ISOs and see if it can be set up.

Additionally, the 120Gb drive in the File Server machine failed last night. It, like most of the old hardware, is known to be dodgy so although a pain in the a***, it is not totally unexpected. It does mean though, that I have lost the working Ubuntu installation and the File Server will have to be re-installed on smaller drive. It would be good to upgrade all the old drives in the system – ho hum.

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Decision time – which Distro?

Which Distro should I use?

Gnoppix is still downloading, the coffee is getting cold and I am still puzzling over the next steps with Laptop 1.

I like the GNOME Desktop, it seems to be cleaner than the KDE one although I have no doubt that either could be configured to be exactly what I would like to see, so that is one stage further forward. I want something with GNOME.

I also like the Software Update feature and I don’t know how many modern distros include this feature in one form or another. I notice that Ubuntu uses .deb packages and derives from the Debian distro, so maybe I should find out more about Debian.

Another thought. Possibly the best choice would be the most popular Linux distribution because that would have the most choice of applications for it, possibly the best support and be well established and less picky as Ubuntu. So, start surfing and do some market research.

It seems that there is not one single answer to this question. Different sites have different opinions as to the relative market leaders. However, there does seem to be some agreement on the top runners. Ubuntu (d’oh!), Debian, Suse and Red Hat.


A brief look at their website is quite encouraging. Their system is free, unlike SUSE and Red Hat. It also is going to use the .deb installation system that I’ve had a bit of practice with in Ubuntu. Having a look at the download pages, it comes on 21 CDs (yikes!) or 3 DVDs. Time to add downloads to the queue again then – ho-hum.

Red Hat

Red Hat uses the .rpm package manager system and so, I would hope that some sort of automatic install will be available for updates and downloaded packages. You have to buy a subscription in order to download it though. It is hard to figure out without spending some serious time on their site but the price seems to range from between $199 to $2,499! The free version seems to be Fedora – maybe that would be worth a try?

SUSE Linux

Again, it is very hard to find a price for the SUSE system and/or Novell’s services. Some time ago though, I did buy a SUSE Linux box set from a Computer Bookshop so installing that becomes a possibility. The latest version is only 1 DVD to download as well. It looks like it’s only $50 though, so that’s not too bad and it does include Support. Again, SUSE uses the .rpm package manager system. OK, I have just found the 10.2 installation on Amazon for £3.49! As I also have an earlier Suse manual with the version I bought before, that makes Suse the initial choice.

Decision Made

OK, we start with Suse.  Just got to wait for it now…..


Time to install Laptop 1

Knoppix Test

This worked well and enabled me to clear off the hard drive.

Having had brilliant success with Ubuntu Desktop on the File Server, this was my first thought. Unfortunately, this was not going to be my day! The installation froze when it was going to switch to a graphical screen. So, beginning to despair, I went back to the Windows Disk, cleaned and formatted the hard drive and tried again. This made no difference. Another option was required.


Back to the Ubuntu website and I noticed a cut down version of the Ubuntu install specifically made for low-spec machines. Ah-ha I thought, perhaps this will solve the laptop problem. Another download, another iso, another CD and after another very pretty booting screen – the same result. Nothing. Nada. Dead, frozen, mammoth-like laptop.

Alternate Install CD

Once more back to the Ubuntu website. Now you may be wondering at this point why I hadn’t given up and tried another distribution of Linux to fix the problem, after all, Knoppix had told me the laptop would be able to run Linux well. I figured that if I could standardise across the LAN it was going to be a lot easier to maintain. Anyway, the expanded list of download locations on the download page of the Ubuntu site lead me here. Here I could see an Alternate Install CD for machines with 256 Mb or less of RAM. Now that has got to worth a try.

Sadly, I was mistaken. I still don’t have enough knowledge to get Ubuntu in any form working on Laptop 1.

Think again…..