Integrating Win95 and Samba in detail (long)

Joerg Lenneis lenneis at
Sun Oct 5 20:07:42 GMT 1997

Louis Mandelstam <lma at> writes:

> On Fri, 3 Oct 1997, Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton wrote:
> > > 1. A completely automated Win95+apps installation from the server, from a
> > >    boot diskette (for setting up new PCs or fixing completely hosed ones)
> > 
> > how??? how???
> I know how you feel ;-)
> First I tried using Microsoft's msbatch.inf plan for automating setups,
> with batch.exe and the like.
> After spending probably about 2 months concentrating on this, scouring the
> web, DejaNews, Samba archives, peers and the Win95 Resource Toolkit, I
> came to the following conclusions:

[ ... ]

Interesting. More or less exactly the same solution we arrived at. We
now have a similar setup where it is possible to install Windows 95
with the "push of a button" by first booting into Linux and copying
existing installation trees from a server. We initially mucked about
with a diskless configuration, but this is so bug ridden, that I would
recommend against anybody trying it. At least one other department is
doing the same thing at our site, btw. Maybe there is really a lack of
communication here and a mailing list would be a good idea.

One tool that I found very useful for keeping workstations in sync
after installation or to upgrade them with new files if required is
PCRdist, which works in a similar fashion to BSD rdist, except that
the file synchronisation is initiated from the client (Win 95). It is
(inexpensive) shareware available from

> > > 8. Automatic printer selection, per-workstation.  I expect I'll have to
> > >    set up a table on the server with printer name to use for each
> > >    workstation, and come up with a way to update the registry accordinly
> > >    at boot time.  To make it fun, not all the printers are the same - but
> > >    almost all understand PCL5.  I might be able to get rid of the rest if
> > >    I have to.
> > 
> > how?
> Dunno, still need to ponder this one.  I may end up trying to make a
> single printer service on the Samba server, connect all workstations to
> that service (so they all have the same setting) and let the server figure
> out which printer should get the job.   Otherwise I may figure out a way
> to feed an appropriate .reg file to the workstation from the server (at
> boot time).   If I could find a way to let Linux exit back to DOS after
> booting using loadlin.exe, I'd have a very simple way to do a lot
> of boot-time things - since I could just get back into DOS and let the
> Win95 boot continue from there (after modifying the registry in any way I
> please).

[ ... ]

It is possible to extract all the entries that the installation of a
printer leaves in the registry and various .ini files and apply that
information (via regedit and a little tool that I wrote for changing
.ini files) to a machine that does not have the printer installed. No
user intervention is required. This makes it possible to
"install" certain printers automatically on certain workstations, but
not on others. Another approach would be to do a printer install via
Samba browsing, which has the disadvantage that a little user
intervention is required. It works like this:

Make all the printers available on the Samba server and make sure they
all have correct "printer driver = .." entries (these tell Windows
what printer driver to install automatically if that printer is accessed). 

Have the Windows 95 installation tree from the installation CD
somewhere available on the Samba server (just the stuff that resides
in the WIN95 directory on the CD is necessary). It should be
accessible via a share, let's say WIN95CD. Make sure that Windows 95
believes it was installed from that share by adding the entry 


to the registry.

As soon as a user doubleclicks on the name of a printer in the
browsing window (assuming the printer has not been installed yet) a
prompt window is shown with the question, if that printer should be
installed on the system. After pressing "OK" the rest of the install
is done without any more user intervention and the printer is available
on that workstation from then onwards.

One more drawback of that method is obviously that only printers with
drivers on the Windows 95 CD can be installed in this fashion. Or is
there a way to add additional drivers to the various .cab files? This
would also be interesting for drivers for other peripherals.

In a previous mail you wrote:

>  3. User profiles are in their home directories, allowing roaming.  Still
>    have some work to do here, such as disabling the "You have not logged
>    into this computer before...." message, and forcing a "Yes" instead,

There is a way to do this. It is a hack not worth seeing the light of
the high quality discussion going on here, but mail me anyway for
details if you are interested.

> 4. The desktop is the user's home directory itself.  It works here because
>    these users only use Win95, so there aren't any non-PC/Win95 files in
>    their homedirs.

Did you actually get all the relevant entries in the registry to point
at the users home directory as the desktop? Or does this work in the
"ususal" way that the desktop is copied from/to the server at
login/logout? If the former, I would be very interested how you did



Joerg Lenneis

email: lenneis at

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