Being able to switch back and forth between Linux and Windows or having a
GUI that looks similar to Windows is still not enough. As I mentioned, if
your data is on an NTFS partition
on the local machine, you are pretty much
stuck with just reading the data. However, if you data is sitting on a NT
server you can access it with no problem.
One of Linux's strengths is Samba, which provides file and print services
using the Session Message Block (SMB) protocol
(also called the Common
Internet Filesystem -CIFS), which is the same protocol
Windows machines use.
With Samba, Linux machines can provide the file and print services to any
machine that supports SMB,
including other Linux machines. In fact, at work
we use SMB
exclusively to access all of file resources, rather than having to
as well. That means that no matter what operating system
someone is working on, they still have access to the same resources (without
any extra administrative effort).
So, if Linux machines can access resources on other Linux machines using
SMB, why can't they access resources on a Windows machine? The answer is: they
Samba actually provides two mechanisms to access resources. The first is
smbclient, which provides a functionality similar to ftp.
That is, you can copy files back and forth, but do not have the level of
interactivity that you do when you mount
To solve this problem, Samba also provides smbmount. As it's name implies
smbmount is used to mount
filesystems being shared using SMB, and has a syntax
similar to the tradition Linux mount
smbmount //server/service /mountpoint
Note that the smbmount command is actually a front end to the smbmnt program.
smbmount has a number of different options which control not only
how the filesystems are mounted, as well as how the client
presents itself to
the server. For example, you can define the name of your computer, the username
used to connect, and so forth. You can also use the -c option
to smbmount to pass options directly to the smbmnt command, such as defining
to assign to the files on the mounted filesystem.
Let's look at an example. Assume that you have a share called Data sitting on
the server jupiter. There is a user on that machine named jimmo, who has been
given access to the share. To connect we might issue a command like this:
smbmount //jupiter/Data /mnt/Data -U jimmo
You are then prompted to input the appropriate password. By using the -N
option, you can tell smbmount not to prompt for a password.
One thing to note is that the smbmount command varies between the various
distributions. For example, on SuSE Linux 6.2 the above syntax mounts the
share as a normal filesystem.
However, the same syntax on Red Hat 6.0 behaves like the old smbclient.
Fortunately in all likelihood you will be able to use the standard mount
command to access SMB
filesystems. Although not configured by default, most current distributions
include the smbfs filesystem
driver, which allows you to treat SMB
filesystems basically like any
other filesystem. The syntax to mount
the share mentioned previously would be:
mount -t smbfs //jupiter/data /mnt/Data
Note that this syntax only works if the share is set up as public, because you typically don't need
We go into detail on configuring SAMBA in another section.