[Samba] CIFS howto?

Steve French smfltc at us.ibm.com
Wed Feb 4 19:51:15 GMT 2004

> Is there a CIFS howto? is cifs-vfs standalone or a
> supplement to Samba?

CIFS VFS is a Linux kernel component (can be compiled as a module
cifs.o) which provides a more functional alternative to the smbfs client
for accessing Windows 2000 and later and Samba or equivalent SMB/CIFS
servers which also provides file semantics that are much more Unix/Linux
friendly (POSIX-like file API behavior).  The project page
http://us1.samba.org/samba/Linux_CIFS_client.html includes more
information about it but has not been udpated to note progress of the
past month or so.  The fs/cifs/README file at
http://cvs.samba.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/cifsvfs/fs/cifs/README?rev=1.20&content-type=text/x-cvsweb-markup contains howto instructions for its use and there is some information that has been posted to mailing lists about which cases in which smbfs must still be used instead of cifs vfs even in 2.6 but generally the older smbfs must be used instead of cifs vfs if

1) access to NT4 or Win98 servers is required
2) the kernel is 2.4 and detailed errors on mount need to be reported
3)you are using most current smbfs and most current smbmnt/smbmount from
Samba 3.0 and you require the use of Kerberos or NTLMv2

cifs vfs is typically used in cases in which:
1) Windows 2003 is the server or smb/cifs packet signing (a useful
security feature) is required
2) the servers are relatively newer (Windows 2000 or later, or Samba
2.2.7 or later)
3) POSIX like semantics (e.g. deleting or renaming open or read-only
files) are desired
4)The kernel is 2.6 and you need better network file read/write
5) better internationalization is needed (Unicode)
6) safe caching (oplock) is needed for network data integrity

For Linux 2.6, cifs vfs is included in the standard kernel, for 2.4
based kernels it depends on the distribution whether the module is
included or not (SuSE includes it for example).  The CIFS VFS has better
performance and function on 2.6 due to enhancements made to the core
kernel itself.   For both 2.6 and 2.4 versions of the cifs vfs client, I
expect to release updates in the next week, probably with version number
1.0.3 that will include very important fixes found during testing over
the past two months.   The CIFS module does include an optional mount
helper (which is especially useful for 2.4) which is recommended to be
installed (and found in the Samba 3 CVS tree as called mount.cifs.c)

smbfs, although it has received less attention over the last year, does
include more function in its 2.6 version than its 2.4 version as well
and smbfs is still required for accessing older NT4 servers and Windows
98 servers, and on 2.4 Linux kernels is reasonably well tested.  The two
kernel modules (cifs.o and smbfs.o) can coexist but over time I plan to
add enough function to make cifs.o be able to at least handle the NT4
server case which will lessen the need for smbfs in some of those

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