samba, MS Access and file/record locking

Dave Reed dreed at
Thu Jun 15 04:28:53 GMT 2000

> From: Peter Samuelson <peter at>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
> Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 22:52:01 -0500 (CDT)
> Cc: Multiple recipients of list SAMBA <samba at>
> Content-Length: 2119
> [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....

Better in the sense of stability - I've never used NT, but it seems
pretty clear that Linux is more stable (I've never had it crash on me
in over 3 years of use - nobody I know can say that about NT).  The
administration should be near zero once I set it up for them so that's
not an issue. 

> > 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.

That worries me a little.  I'll gladly turn off oplocks in Samba if
that's the issue.  Most of the time there will only be 1 or 2 client
PCs (and at most 3 or 4) accessing the database so performance should
not be a worry.  They'll gladly sacrifice some performance for a solid
system.  Can anyone point me to more info on the above mentioned

> 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.

That's more than I want to do.  It's not that I like Access, but I
don't have much experience with databases and really didn't want to
spend much time on it - I'm just trying to help out at my wife's
office and save them from paying someone real consulting wages and
make them pay for an NT license (and maybe not get any better
results).  I hoped I'd could take care of it in less than a day
including the time to install/configure Linux (which I've done
numerous times), get Samba working and test it out.

Thanks for the info,

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