[Samba] Samba4, MS CAL and Windows Server as domain member

Denis samba at cardon.it
Tue Nov 5 02:38:57 MST 2013

Hi everyone,

I have a licencing question : do one need to buy CAL for every user in a Samba4 domain when there is a Windows Server as a domain member, knowing that the Windows server will be accessed using SMB by Windows workstations?

As per http://www.samba.org/samba/docs/using_samba/ch01.html and many other web sites, one of the main advantage of samba is that no user CALs are required. And I think the case is clear when there are only Windows workstation and one samba server.

However, in the case where I have a Windows member server joined to the Samba4 domain, do I need user CAL to access that windows server throught SMB protocol? The MS licencing seems to say yes (http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/client-access-license.aspx). But I cannot imagine how this could not be considered as anticompetitive practice, at least here in Europe... Indeed, it would remove the main financial advantage of Samba4 over MSAD.

I have a client with an old Windows 2003 AD with all the associated CALs that would need get an upgrade, and they would prefer to go on the samba4 path. However if they have to pay all the user CALs, the boss don't see any financial interest, but only sees the risk associated with the migration.

So, here are my questions... First a weird one : does the 2003 user CAL are "compatible" (in the licencing legal way) with a samba4 server in 2008R2 forest mode in order for the windows workstation to access both linux and windows server on the network?

Second : Is the CAL version requirement relative to the Active Directory version or to the highest Windows server version on the network? That is to say, if I add a win2k8 server on a domain managed by an win2k3 AD, do I have to buy win2k8 CAL?

I have not found any definitive answer on the internet. I can only imagine that the CALs are associated to the number of Active Directory accounts and Active Directory version, otherwise one get kafkaesque issues. But in the case of samba4, the notion of Active Directory version seems exotic... Do any of you have any experience on those licencing questions?

Thanks for you input. Samba4 rocks!



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