samba blamed for network problems (help!)

Graham Leggett graham at
Tue Dec 1 19:47:52 GMT 1998


> We've been having intermittent network problems with browsing on 
> the win95 clients.  Every few days (or week or two) the browse list 
> disappears (but the Net Use commands still work).  I can use 
> smbclient from the linux box to see/attach-to shares on all windoze 
> clients, but the windoze clients can't see each other.  I have 
> samba set as the domain & local masters, etc (still can't get WINS 
> to work though).  I'm also running apache and a few other things on 
> the linux box, but that shouldn't cause any problems (I think).
> The real kicker is, I know samba (at least I'm pretty sure) isn't 
> the cause, but yesterday (when I wasn't here) the PC-LAN guy 
> disconnected my linux box from the network, claiming to have 
> "cured" our problem.  We may be pushing the length limit on a coax 
> ethernet (we inherited the cabling when we moved into this part of 
> the building) but I have no network analysis hardware (or much 
> experience, but neither does the PC/LAN guy).

Step one:

Get rid of your PC-LAN guy, or at least hit him hard. The "blame what I
understand least" approach to network troubleshooting seems quite common
- I've come across it myself - I stamped it out *quick*.

Step two:

Deinstall the IPX stack on your clients. I have encountered (and heard
reports from others) that Win95 sometimes gets confused about which
protocol it announces itself with. In english it means that your legacy
IPX clients are swapping their browse lists via IPX, and the TCP/IP
clients don't get the full list as a direct result, thus the problem. We
suffered with this problem badly for many months until we completely
eradicated IPX from the network.

Step three:

If you still don't get joy, try this: There are other reasons for this
problem as well, caused by the way browsing works. A single workstation
on your network is responsible for collating and maintaining the browse
list. Should this machine be turned off or rebooted (a common occurence
with 95) your browse list vanishes as a result, and takes a bit of time
before a new browse list is created on another machine. How does Windows
choose which machine? All the machines collaborate and hold an election
to determine who will be the browse master. The more "advanced" the
machine, the more chance of winning an election. For example, a Win95
machine will beat a Win v3.1 machine, but a WinNT machine will beat a

>From the sounds of your network you only have Win95 machines on the
network - this means that any machine could be a browse master, and when
that machine is rebooted, bang goes your browse list. The solution here
is to pick a machine that is the server, and make it the only machine
eligible to be browse master by switching off eligibility in your
clients, or make your Samba server the browse master (Samba has declared
itself the highest in the food chain, and beats WinNT in elections by

graham at			"There's a moon
VWV Interactive				over Bourbon Street
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