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Samba as a file server

One of the most common ways to network Ubuntu and Windows computers is to configure Samba as a file server. It can be set up to share files with Windows clients, as we’ll see in this section.

The server will be configured to share files with any client on the network without prompting for a password. If your environment requires stricter Access Controls see Share Access Control.

Install Samba

The first step is to install the samba package. From a terminal prompt enter:

sudo apt install samba

That’s all there is to it; you are now ready to configure Samba to share files.

Configure Samba as a file server

The main Samba configuration file is located in /etc/samba/smb.conf. The default configuration file contains a significant number of comments, which document various configuration directives.

Note:
Not all available options are included in the default configuration file. See the smb.conf man page or the Samba HOWTO Collection for more details.

First, edit the workgroup parameter in the [global] section of /etc/samba/smb.conf and change it to better match your environment:

workgroup = EXAMPLE

Create a new section at the bottom of the file, or uncomment one of the examples, for the directory you want to share:

[share]
    comment = Ubuntu File Server Share
    path = /srv/samba/share
    browsable = yes
    guest ok = yes
    read only = no
    create mask = 0755
  • comment
    A short description of the share. Adjust to fit your needs.

  • path
    The path to the directory you want to share.

    Note:
    This example uses /srv/samba/sharename because, according to the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS), /srv is where site-specific data should be served. Technically, Samba shares can be placed anywhere on the filesystem as long as the permissions are correct, but adhering to standards is recommended.

  • browsable
    Enables Windows clients to browse the shared directory using Windows Explorer.

  • guest ok
    Allows clients to connect to the share without supplying a password.

  • read only: determines if the share is read only or if write privileges are granted. Write privileges are allowed only when the value is no, as is seen in this example. If the value is yes, then access to the share is read only.

  • create mask
    Determines the permissions that new files will have when created.

Create the directory

Now that Samba is configured, the directory needs to be created and the permissions changed. From a terminal, run the following commands:

sudo mkdir -p /srv/samba/share
sudo chown nobody:nogroup /srv/samba/share/

The -p switch tells mkdir to create the entire directory tree if it doesn’t already exist.

Enable the new configuration

Finally, restart the Samba services to enable the new configuration by running the following command:

sudo systemctl restart smbd.service nmbd.service

Warning:
Once again, the above configuration gives full access to any client on the local network. For a more secure configuration see Share Access Control.

From a Windows client you should now be able to browse to the Ubuntu file server and see the shared directory. If your client doesn’t show your share automatically, try to access your server by its IP address, e.g. \\192.168.1.1, in a Windows Explorer window. To check that everything is working try creating a directory from Windows.

To create additional shares simply create new [sharename] sections in /etc/samba/smb.conf, and restart Samba. Just make sure that the directory you want to share actually exists and the permissions are correct.

The file share named [share] and the path /srv/samba/share used in this example can be adjusted to fit your environment. It is a good idea to name a share after a directory on the file system. Another example would be a share name of [qa] with a path of /srv/samba/qa.

Further reading

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