Samba (software)

Samba is a free software re-implementation of the SMB networking protocol, and was originally developed by Andrew Tridgell. Samba provides file and print services for various Microsoft Windows clients and can integrate with a Microsoft Windows Server domain, either as a Domain Controller (DC) or as a domain member. As of version 4, it supports Active Directory and Microsoft Windows NT domains.

Initial release1992 (1992)[1]
Stable release
4.11.4 / 16 December 2019 (2019-12-16)[2]
Written inC, Python
Operating systemMultiplatform
TypeNetwork file system

Samba runs on most Unix, OpenVMS and Unix-like systems, such as Linux, Solaris, AIX and the BSD variants, including Apple's macOS Server, and macOS client (Mac OS X 10.2 and greater). Samba is standard on nearly all distributions of Linux and is commonly included as a basic system service on other Unix-based operating systems as well. Samba is released under the terms of the GNU General Public License. The name Samba comes from SMB (Server Message Block), the name of the standard protocol used by the Microsoft Windows network file system.

Early history

Andrew Tridgell developed the first version of Samba Unix in December 1991 and January 1992, as a PhD student at the Australian National University, using a packet sniffer to do network analysis of the protocol used by DEC Pathworks server software. At the time of the first releases, versions 0.1, 0.5 and 1.0, all from the first half of January 1992, it did not have a proper name, and Tridgell just called it "a Unix file server for Dos Pathworks". At the time of version 1.0, he realized that he "had in fact implemented the netbios protocol" and that "this software could be used with other PC clients".

With a focus on interoperability with Microsoft's LAN Manager, Tridgell released "netbios for unix", observer, version 1.5 in December 1993. This release was the first to include client-software as well as a server. Also, at this time GPL2 was chosen as license.

Samba is one of the file sharing systems.

Midway through the 1.5-series, the name was changed to smbserver. However, Tridgell got a trademark notice from the company "Syntax", who sold a product named TotalNet Advanced Server and owned the trademark for "SMBserver". The name "Samba" was derived by running the Unix command grep through the system dictionary looking for words that contained the letters S, M, and B, in that order (i.e. grep -i '^s.*m.*b' /usr/share/dict/words).[3]

Versions 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, and 1.9 followed relatively quickly, with the latter being released in January 1995. Tridgell considers the adoption of CVS in May 1996 to mark the birth of the Samba Team, though there had been contributions from other people, especially Jeremy Allison, previously.[4]

Version 2.0.0 was released in January 1999, and version 2.2.0 in April 2001.

Version history

Version 3.0.0, released on 23 September 2003, was a major upgrade. Samba gained the ability to join Active Directory as a member, though not as a domain controller.[5] Subsequent point-releases to 3.0 have added minor new features. Currently, the latest release in this series is 3.0.37, released 1 October 2009, and shipped on a voluntary basis.[6] The 3.0.x series officially reached end-of-life on 5 August 2009.[6]

Version 3.1 was used only for development.

With version 3.2, the project decided to move to time-based releases. New major releases, such as 3.3, 3.4, etc. will appear every 6 months. New features will only be added when a major release is done, point-releases will be only for bug fixes.[7] Also, 3.2 marked a change of license from GPL2 to GPL3, with some parts released under LGPL3.[8] The main technical change in version 3.2 was to autogenerate much of the DCE/RPC-code that used to be handcrafted. Version 3.2.0 was released on 1 July 2008.[9] and its current release is 3.2.15 from 1 October 2009. The 3.2.x series officially reached end-of-life on 1 March 2010.[9]

September 23, 2003Old version, no longer supported: 3.0Active Directory support[10]
July 1, 2008Old version, no longer supported: 3.2It will be updated on an as-needed basis for security issues only[11]
January 27, 2009Old version, no longer supported: 3.3
July 3, 2009Old version, no longer supported: 3.4This was the first release to include both Samba 3 and Samba 4 source code.[12]
March 1, 2010Old version, no longer supported: 3.5This was the first release to include experimental support for SMB2.[13]
August 9, 2011Old version, no longer supported: 3.6This is the first branch which includes full support for SMB2.[14]
December 11, 2012Old version, no longer supported: 4.0It is a major rewrite that enables Samba to be an Active Directory domain controller, participating fully in a Windows Active Directory Domain. Its first technical preview (4.0.0TP1) was released in January 2006 after 3 years of development.[15][16]
October 10, 2013Old version, no longer supported: 4.1support for SMB3
March 4, 2015Old version, no longer supported: 4.2Btrfs based file compression, snapshots and winbind integration[17]
September 8, 2015Old version, no longer supported: 4.3New Logging features, SMB 3.1.1 support[18]
March 22, 2016Old version, no longer supported: 4.4Asynchronous flush requests[19]
September 7, 2016 Old version, no longer supported: 4.5 NTLM v1 disabled by default, Virtual List View, Various performance improvements
March 7, 2017 Old version, no longer supported: 4.6 Multi-process Netlogon support
September 21, 2017 Old version, no longer supported: 4.7 Samba AD with MIT Kerberos
March 13, 2018 Old version, no longer supported: 4.8 Apple Time Machine Support. Setups using 'domain' or 'ads' security modes now require 'winbindd' to be running.[20]
September 13, 2018 Older version, yet still supported: 4.9 Many changes : see release notes
March 19, 2019 Older version, yet still supported: 4.10
September 17, 2019 Current stable version: 4.11
Old version
Older version, still supported
Latest version
Latest preview version
Future release


Some versions of Samba 3.6.3 and lower suffer serious security issues which can allow anonymous users to gain root access to a system from an anonymous connection, through the exploitation of an error in Samba's remote procedure call.[21]

On 12 April 2016, Badlock,[22] a crucial security bug in Windows and Samba, was disclosed. Badlock for Samba is referenced by CVE-2016-2118 (SAMR and LSA man in the middle attacks possible).[23]

On 24 May 2017, it was announced that a remote code execution vulnerability had been found in Samba named EternalRed or SambaCry, affecting all versions since 3.5.0.[24] This vulnerability was assigned identifier CVE-2017-7494.[24][25]


Samba allows file and print sharing between computers running Microsoft Windows and computers running Unix. It is an implementation of dozens of services and a dozen protocols, including:

All these services and protocols are frequently incorrectly referred to as just NetBIOS or SMB. The NBT (NetBIOS over TCP/IP) and WINS protocols, and their underlying SMB version 1 protocol, are deprecated on Windows. Since Windows Vista the WS-Discovery protocol has been included along with SMB2 and its successors, which supersede these. (WS-Discovery is implemented on Unix-like platforms by third party daemons which allow Samba shares to be discovered when the deprecated protocols are disabled).

Samba sets up network shares for chosen Unix directories (including all contained subdirectories). These appear to Microsoft Windows users as normal Windows folders accessible via the network. Unix users can either mount the shares directly as part of their file structure using the mount.cifs command or, alternatively, can use a utility, smbclient (libsmb) installed with Samba to read the shares with a similar interface to a standard command line FTP program. Each directory can have different access privileges overlaid on top of the normal Unix file protections. For example: home directories would have read/write access for all known users, allowing each to access their own files. However they would still not have access to the files of others unless that permission would normally exist. Note that the netlogon share, typically distributed as a read only share from /etc/samba/netlogon, is the logon directory for user logon scripts.

Samba services are implemented as two daemons:

  • smbd, which provides the file and printer sharing services, and
  • nmbd, which provides the NetBIOS-to-IP-address name service. NetBIOS over TCP/IP requires some method for mapping NetBIOS computer names to the IP addresses of a TCP/IP network.

Samba configuration is achieved by editing a single file (typically installed as /etc/smb.conf or /etc/samba/smb.conf). Samba can also provide user logon scripts and group policy implementation through poledit.

Samba is included in most Linux distributions and is started during the boot process. On Red Hat, for instance, the /etc/rc.d/init.d/smb script runs at boot time, and starts both daemons. Samba is not included in Solaris 8, but a Solaris 8-compatible version is available from the Samba website.

Samba includes a web administration tool called Samba Web Administration Tool (SWAT).[26][27] SWAT was removed starting with version 4.1.[28]

Samba TNG

Samba TNG
Developer(s)Samba TNG team
Stable release
0.5-rc1 / 3 December 2009 (2009-12-03)
Operating systemCross-platform
TypeMicrosoft networking
LicenseGNU General Public License

Samba TNG (The Next Generation) was forked in late 1999, after disagreements between the Samba Team leaders and Luke Leighton about the directions of the Samba project. They failed to come to an agreement on a development transition path which allowed the research version of Samba he was developing (known at the time as Samba-NTDOM) to slowly be integrated into Samba.[29]

Since the project started, development has been minimal, due to a lack of developers. As such the Samba TNG team frequently recommends to people who are unsure of which program to use, instead try Samba as they have more developers and are able to support more platforms and situations.[30]

One of the key goals of the Samba TNG project is to rewrite all of the NT Domains services as FreeDCE projects.[31] Making this rewriting goal difficult is the fact that services were all developed manually through network reverse-engineering, with limited or no reference to DCE/RPC documentation.

The key differences between the two programs are in the implementation of the NT Domains suite of protocols and MSRPC services. Samba makes all the NT Domains services available from a single place, whereas Samba TNG has separated each service into its own program.

ReactOS has started using Samba TNG services for its SMB implementation. The developers of both projects were interested in seeing the Samba TNG design used to help get ReactOS talking to Windows networks. They have been working together to adapt the network code and build system. The multi-layered and modular approach made it easy to port each service to ReactOS.[32]

See also


  1. "Samba Latest News". Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  2. "Samba 4.11.4 Available for Download". Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  3. "A bit of history and a bit of fun". 27 June 1997. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
  4. "10 years of Samba!". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  5. "The first stable release of Samba 3.0 is available". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  6. "Release Planning for Samba 3.0". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  7. "Monday, April 28 - Samba Mashup Report". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  8. "Samba Adopts GPLv3 for Future Releases". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  9. "Release Planning for Samba 3.2". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  10. "Samba Team announces the first official release of Samba 3.0". Retrieved 24 September 2003.
  11. "[ANNOUNCE] Samba 3.2.0 Available for Download". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  12. "Samba - Release Notes Archive". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  13. "Samba - Release Notes Archive". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  14. "Samba - Release Notes Archive". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  15. "Samba - opening windows to a wider world". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  16. "Samba 4.0.0TP1 Available for Download". Archived from the original on 22 July 2006. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  17. "Samba - Release Notes Archive". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  18. "Samba - Release Notes Archive". Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  19. "Samba - Release Notes Archive". Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  20. "Release Notes for Samba 4.8.0". 13 March 2018. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  21. CVE-2012-1182 - A security announcement regarding a major issue with Samba 3.6.3 and lower.
  22. "Badlock". Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  23. "Microsoft, Samba Patch "Badlock" Vulnerability". Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  24. "Samba 4.6.4 - Release Notes". 24 May 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  25. "SambaCry is coming". Securelist - Kaspersky Lab’s cyberthreat research and reports. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  26. "Chapter 37. SWAT: The Samba Web Administration Tool". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  27. "". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  28. "Samba 4.1 Features added/changed". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  29. "Project FAQ - What is the relationship between Samba and Samba TNG?". Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  30. "Project FAQ - Which should I use - Samba or Samba TNG?". Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  31. "Project FAQ - What's all this about FreeDCE?". Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  32. Vincent, Brian. "Interview with Steven Edwards". Wine HQ. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
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