Browsing / nmbd issue with subnetting for VPN

Benjamin Carter bcarter at
Fri Jul 28 19:01:49 GMT 2000

[Apologies in advance if this is more appropriate for the samba list,
as this is technically a "I am having a problem with XXXX" message, but
I wanted the samba team to take a look at this.]


I have a bunch of friends from college that are getting broadband
connections as they become more readily available; I have recently
gotten cable modem service myself.  What we would like to be able to do
is to set up a VPN that everyone can connect to, and see everyone
currently connected, browse their shares and hopefully play LAN-style
games across the connection as well.

Since none of my other friends have done anything about it, other than
say "This would be neat if we had it set up and it worked", I have taken
the initiative and spent some time figuring out how to get this working.
Most of the VPN clients will be Win 95/98, NT, or 2000 machines.  The
VPN client for these systems sets up a point-to-point link with the
target, so for VPN client A to talk to VPN client B, it has to go
through the server; it cannot set up a tunneled connection directly
between peers.

So, I want to place the VPN server on a high-bandwidth connection,
possibly co-location, or perhaps putting it in the room of a friend who
is still at the university and has a high-speed connection in their dorm
room.  But before I go about doing any of this, particularly if it
involves spending money [as in co-location] I want to be reasonably sure
that I can have it working beforehand.

To that end, I have set up a VPN server process on my current Linux
machine functioning as my gateway to the Internet, which masquerades 2
or 3 machines behind it [I have multiple IP addresses, so I can move one
machine to the "real" side of the gateway, thus isolating it on a
separate network segment; then if I see the other machine in the browse
list for the workgroup, I can assume everything is working correctly.]

My situation:

I have assigned all the PPP links from client computers IP addresses in
the range 192.168.2.*; the server side of each of these links is
configured as  I want samba to act as a domain master
browser, and have it also act as a WINS server so that name registration
works.  I configure the PPP link to push the IP address as
the WINS server to the clients when they connect.

I am currently using samba-2.0.5a precompiled binaries that are part of
the slackware-7.0 distribution, which is what the machine is running.

Debugging browsing problems is difficult to say the least; with the
propagation delays, and the local netbios caches, I have to wait quite
some time before I know if my configuration changes even had any effect.

However, I do know that browsing is my only problem; if I specify
\\computer-name in any of the connected clients, they can find that
machine.  Pings to the other servers work [the machine is configured to
forward packets between hosts on the vpn subnet], they register their
names with the WINS server, and all is well on that front.

But the problem I have is that I cannot figure out how to get nmbd to
consistently register itself as the DMB for this subnet without getting
into fights over browse mastering.  If I set 'bind interfaces only =
true', nmbd _still_ binds to IPADDR_ANY:netbios-ns, and I see in the
logs ' thinks it is a master browser for workgroup
MY_WORGROUP, forcing election' [in this case 192.168.112.* is the subnet
I masquerade from and .180 is one of the hosts I am connecting to the
VPN with.]

I also have problems with the interfaces line; nmbd seems to disbelieve
my subnet settings.  If I set interfaces=, it tells me
'bcast addr =, netmask=' - this is obviously
incorrect.  If I set interfaces=, it tries to do a
broadcast for that subnet [which obviously cannot work - all the hosts
for that subnet are over point-to-point links and therefore unicast

If I set it to, it still fights with the clients at over who is browse master for their subnet.

One other thing - I only want to run the WINS server, and collect browse
lists with this process, I am not interested in serving any files.  Is
there some way to convince nmbd not to register "netbios-name<20>", or
is simply not starting smbd sufficient to achieve this?

I will be downloading 2.0.7 as soon as I regain net-connectivity with
this box [flaky cable modem providers... grr] in the hopes that it will
alleviate some of my problems, but the announcements for the newer
versions do not have anything listed that looks particularly hopeful.
It looks to me as though I may have to go through the nmbd source to
achieve what I want, which is rather daunting to me as I am completely
unfamiliar with it.

One other note: when I configured 'dummy' to, and
told nmbd that was its subnet, things _almost_ worked... while the
workgroup<1b> name was still registered to  The VPN
clients only get a route to, so they can't find the
domain master at  (It appears I _have_ to put the nmbd
on subnet, as I can't control the routes the VPN clients

I would post relevant logs, but as I stated earlier, the machine in
question is offline.  Any comments / help / anything would be

-Ben Carter
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from
the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent
disinclination to do so. - Douglas Adams, "Last Chance to See" 

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