[Samba] Samba for a Corporate File Server?

Tim Allen timallen at ls83.fsnet.co.uk
Thu Aug 15 05:56:00 GMT 2002

It was very interesting to hear Craig's comments about moving over to a
Samba server. I think you precisely encapsulated the issues involved in
doing this - i.e. the various incompatibilities that any organization may or
may not encounter. Certainly, in the last couple of releases Samba has made
great strides with many of these issues.

I run a network for a very small organization. We'd been using NT4 server
for a number of years without absolutely zero downtime or problems of any
sort. It therefore required quite a leap of faith to finally pull the plug
on that server and move completely over to Samba. I started running Samba in
the Summer of 2000 in a non-critical capacity and only killed NT4 server a
few weeks ago, after progressively more intensive testing.

The reasons for moving to Samba were firstly allow us to standadize on a
single server operating system (Linux) as well as breaking with the
Microsoft upgrade cycle as successive operating systems are obsoleted. My
experience here is that NT4, W2k and Linux are all rock solid operating
systems (howls of horror!).

So far, our experiences with Samba have been very good. A couple of months
now of full use and no funnies. We use an Access database all the time as
well as Office applications and schematic capture and PCB design tools
(Innoveda PowerLogic/PCB). Call me feint-hearted but I've always kept
Oplocks turned off, in light of the problems that have been reported on this

I'd suggest to Bill putting Samba on a separate server (non PDC to keep
things simple) to start with. Start off using it as a print server and a few
non-critical file shares. Gradually move things over to this server as your
confidence in Samba grows. As the last step, make it the PDC.

This is really exactly what you Craig said.


> >> 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?
> Bill,
> I would proceed with caution and certainly do extensive testing with
> your applications first before rolling it out to your entire
> organisation.
> 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
> documents.
> 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
> Inventor.
> 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!)
> Regards,
> 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
> >server.
> >
> >> 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
> PM:
> >
> >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
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