samba, MS Access and file/record locking

Peter Samuelson peter at
Thu Jun 15 03:52:01 GMT 2000

[Dave Reed <dreed at>]
> A friend of a friend stopped by the office today and suggested they
> get an NT server with Back Office and SQL server (but that's all he
> knows) instead of the peer-to-peer setup they have now.  Give that he
> doesn't know anything about Unix/Linux, I wondered if there isn't a
> better and less expensive solution in Linux and Samba.

Cheaper?  Not too hard.  SQL Server is a couple thousand bucks if you
have more than a few client machines, and NT Server is at least several
hundred dollars.

Better?  Hard to say.  There are still some things Samba can't do as
well as NT, though all in all I think the balance tipped some time ago.
And, of course, some people place a *huge* amount of value on the
ability to point-n-click their way through system administration.  I
don't understand it, but I've observed it....

> I'm thinking of getting a box running Linux with samba and putting
> the database on it and then have all the Windows clients access (no
> pun intended) the database off of it.  I don't understand exactly how
> Access (I think they have the Office 97 version) works exactly as far
> as file/record locking, etc. when multiple computers are sharing the
> same database and how this might interact with samba.

There *have* been some reports of Access not getting along well with
Samba servers.  (Access is a lousy piece of work anyway, so quite
possibly these are locking bugs that NT doesn't happen to trigger.)  I
don't know the status of these reports.  It might help to turn off
oplock support in Samba.

My suggestion, if you're willing to invest a little more setup time,
would be to migrate to the free, industrial-strength PostgreSQL
database backend as opposed to the rather pathetic Jet Engine (the
Access `*.mdb' backend).  PostgreSQL comes with an ODBC driver (which
you can find precompiled for Windows if you look around a bit), so if
you install that on all the client machines, they can continue to use
Access as the frontend.

Needless to say, PostgreSQL supports record locking.

The main disadvantage would be file sharing off-site....


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