[2] [Samba] Samba for a Corporate File Server?

Craig Peacock Craig.Peacock at beyondlogic.org
Thu Aug 15 03:58:01 GMT 2002

>> I'm been following samba for six or seven odd months now in 
>> preparation for moving our organisation over to a file server which 
>> is a little more cost effective than the Micro$oft alternative.
>> We are currently running with about 30 users on a Windows 2000 Small
>> Business Server. Do you see any problems in replacing this server 
>> with a linux box running Samba? Is the file system/server as stable 
>> as Microsoft or Novell?


I would proceed with caution and certainly do extensive testing with 
your applications first before rolling it out to your entire 

When you mention reliability, there are two issues there. One is if the 
box crashes and falls over, the other is if your applications work 
happily on a samba drive. Certainly in maintaining a good uptime, samba 
probably exceeds Windows 2000 Server especially on a stable unix 
platform, but I would be doubtful when it comes to compatibility of 
applications on a samba share, particularly Access databases and 
Microsoft Office 2000/XP applications. 

I work for an organisation, which use to use Novell Netware 5. We 
amalgamated with the computer science department and the logical choice 
was to integrate networks so we are gradually moving users from Novell 
shares to samba running on Solaris. I have been using a Samba share for 
quite a few months now. 

When I first moved, they were running something like 2.2.3a. I use an 
ordering database (paradox), a electrical safety database (Access) and 
a PCB design package (Protel) which sits on a access database among 
other packages such as Microsoft Office and Eudora. As many know, Samba 
isn't very good on multiuser databases and as such we (as users) 
started off very badly. Eudora would quite often go slow, if not 
complain of corrupt databases, we would get numerous File or Network 
I/O errors from Protel and our electrical safety database and have this 
frequent 30 delay (timeout) often when we open typically office 

Now when you talk about saving a few dollars for Novell and Microsoft 
server licences you should probably also consider the productivity of 
your organisation and the increased help desk support. In days where 
there is such a dependency on computers, your organisation is only as 
productive as your computer facilities. I can think of one or two days 
in the early months of the change over when I would off got more work 
done at home. I could spend all morning on a PCB only to corrupt it 
(sits on an access database) and then spend the afternoon redoing the 
board. Then we would order parts from our ordering database and spend 
the next hour waiting pressing o.k. to timeout errors. The same was 
occurring in our Mechanical Workshops where they using Autodesk 

It took a little convincing to show our I.T. department that there was 
a problem with the file shares and not our applications. We had 
operated these applications seamlessly for years on a Novell share and 
thus knew the programs we use were not at fault. This is another 
problem I commonly see that people blame the applications. Fair enough 
having being computer support myself for a couple of years, I had seen 
quite a few junky programs, but really Windows 2000 as a desktop 
operating system is quite stable. 

We ended up writing a little app which sat on our PC's and measured the 
latency it took to write 8 bytes and then read 8 bytes to a share on 
samba and a share on our Novell Server. This occurred every second or 
so and we built up a profile of unacceptable latency's. What we found 
was a lot of ~30sec latency's (timeout to break an oplock) and multiple 
errors "cannot access the file as it is in use by another process" or 
"The network path was not found". Our Novell file server returned a 
perfect score card. 

They finally upgraded to 2.2.5 a month or so ago. This fixed many of 
our database problems as per the fixed bug list for 2.2.4 and 2.2.5, 
but we were still seeing these 30 second random lantencies when opening 
particularly office/MS project documents. We also had certain files 
which would consistently have delays of around 30 seconds yet opening 
it up on a PCNFS share worked fine. So there were still oplock problems 
in 2.2.5. There is a mention of batch oplock deadlock problems where a 
request to break an oplock passes a SMBtrans2 QUERY_PATH_INFO and 
neither windows nor samba will process the request until the other 
repiles. A patch was placed in 2.2.6pr1. 

Our I.T. guys have prematurely placed a cvs version of a late 2.2.6pr1 
snapshot on our organisation's production server as of Tuesday morning 
(I had nothing to do with it!), yet still we get random 30 second 
latencies in opening Office 2000 files. This doesn't worry me too much, 
as I can look out the window during this time but if you count up the 
number of times this happens a day and times it by the number of 
employees and by 365 days I'm sure you lose a little productivity in 
this one bug alone. 

Now don't get me wrong. I have used samba at home for years and think 
it's a great product. However I think it is just a little premature to 
start putting it on production servers just let. I can see the light at 
the end of the tunnel and have seen the improvements and progress which 
has occurred since 2.2.3a. I would certainly keep an eye on it and 
frequently update your play servers with newer samba versions as they 
come out. 

So if you intend to use it, test, test, test and test it with all the 
software you are likely to use with it and keep it up to date. It's 
still interesting to see so many people say I have 2.2.3a on their 
production servers and have no problems. Either they have oplocks 
turned off which is the cause for a lot of problems, or they are just 
not customer focused. (or is perhaps blaming those irregularities on 
the applications!) 


Craig Peacock

>We're running a 300+ users environment with about 100 WinNT/2000 
>clients here, with a Samba 2.2.3 server (PDC, file services). We still 
>have an NT server around for some propietary applications, but even 
>without much load the NT box isn't nearly as stable as the samba 
>> I see some quite big players moving this way and would like to get 
>> the opinions of those that perhaps have made this move before we 
>> decide to go any further.
>I don't know where you start counting big players, but I'm sure even 
>bigger shops use samba.
>Oh, we also do print services with samba, it's less hassle that way :)
>Cheers, Kai
Kai Blin <kai.blin at med.uni-tuebingen.de> wrote on 13/08/2002 10:57:43 
>On Tuesday 13 August 2002 15:06, John Russell wrote:
>> Are you using Office and if so what is the solution to the 
>> Word/Office SAMBA/PDC problem discussed on another thread here?
>I didn't really follow the thread as I don't use Office, and I didn't 
>hear any complaints about this from my users so far. So I can't really 
>tell you the solution..
>Cheers, Kai
>Kai Blin 	Linux system administrator 	Tel: Ring-86592

More information about the samba mailing list