[Samba] The "single WINS" problem

John H Terpstra jht at samba.org
Fri Nov 25 23:45:36 GMT 2005

On Friday 25 November 2005 15:00, Andreas Hasenack wrote:
> Em Quinta 24 Novembro 2005 18:17, Andreas Hasenack escreveu:
> > Everybody encourages Samba admins to enable WINS whenever possible, and
> > I agree that it helps a lot to solve these networks' problems. It's so
> > good that, when it fails, it's a disaster.
> >
> > How are people coping with the samba limitation of not being able to
> > replicate the WINS database and thus its inability to have more than one
> > WINS server in a domain?
> Nobody else? :(


I have documented the fundamentals of network browsing and the importance of 
NetBIOS name resolution in the book "The Official Samba-3 HOWTO and Reference 

Where Samba-3 is a member of a Windows Active Directory domain it is possible 
to use just DNS based name resolution, but when Samba-3 provides the domain 
control technology it is necessary to use NetBIOS over TCP/IP. In that case, 
if the network is multi-segmented the choice to not use WINS is really a bad 
decision. WINS adds stability and cross-segment network operation. Sure, this 
can be done in other ways, but all alternatives require a lot more management 
and overhead, and are generally less reliable in practice.

How often does WINS fail? That is the vital question. In my experience a Samba 
WINS server is considerably more reliable and dependable than a Windows NT4 
WINS server. Your experience may vary.

The largest network I have worked with has 20 remote and local segments with 
over 4200 Windows clients over a large WAN. The only time any problem was 
experienced with the single WINS server was when a link went down, in which 
case the network was off the air anyhow, and the other few times occured when 
a netwrok card or a switch went defective. The total lost time over the past 
3 years has been about 4 hours.

In chapter 6 of my book "Samba-3 by Example, second edition" I have documented 
work-around methods that can be used in ultra-large global networks. Windows 
networks are by their nature somewhat fragile, and therefore must be planed 
and implemented carefully. DNS is not capable of substituting for WINS where 
NetBIOS over TCP/IP is used.

With all due respect, I belive that your alarm and concern is a little 

What sort of response are you looking for? What are you hoping to achieve from 
your request?

- John T.

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