Developers working on the open-source Samba project have unveiled the first major release of their Unix and Linux file server software in two years.
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After four months of bug testing, the Samba team - a worldwide group of volunteer programmers - is set to release a "gold" version of the Samba 3.0 source code, according to one of the project's leaders, Jeremy Allison.
"The main thing with the gold version is it means that large corporations will want to run it. We are standing behind it and saying it's production quality," he said.
Created in 1991, Samba has become a popular complement to the Linux operating system. It provides a clone of the Common Internet File System (CIFS) protocol used by Microsoft systems for a wide variety of network tasks, including file sharing, printing and authentication.
Samba is shipped on Unix and Linux systems from a number of suppliers, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Silicon Graphics.
The latest version of the software should make it much easier for users to migrate their Windows NT 4 systems to Samba, and for Samba itself to take advantage of the Active Directory services Microsoft includes in its Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 products.
Samba will now support the Kerberos authentication protocol and LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) directory services standard that Microsoft uses in Active Directory, which means that when acting in a Windows domain, it can now integrate more seamlessly into a network running Active Directory.
System administrators will be able to use Windows management tools to administer Samba machines more easily, claimed Samba developer Gerald Carter.
Samba will also support Microsoft's SMB (Server Message Block) signing, a lower level security protocol used to prevent malicious hackers from modifying network traffic between CIFS clients and servers. It will also contain new internationalisation features that will allow it to support Microsoft clients using a variety of different character sets.
Samba 3.0 will be available at www.samba.org.
Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service