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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Windows interoperability: sharing folders with the SMB protocol using Solaris CIFS server

Interoperability between Solaris and Windows has improved and is improving very much. In the case of file systems sharing, the situation is now pretty good. There's no need of installing Microsoft Services for UNIX on top of your Windows servers to be able to share folders with Solaris. One of the last additions in the Solaris operating system is the CIFS Server which, as the official project page @ states:

The OpenSolaris CIFS Server provides support for the CIFS/SMB LM 0.12 protocol and MSRPC services in workgroup and domain mode.

The official project page is the ideal starting point to look for information about installing and using the CIFS Server and Client components in Solaris. In this blog I will describe how to quickly configure the CIFS Server to be able to share folder between your Solaris and your Windows environments. I will use the new, and very simple, sharing semantics introduced in the last versions of the ZFS file system.

What's impressive of these tools is the ease of use and administration. Both ZFS commands and CIFS Server commands are few, easy and intuitive. Sharing a ZFS file system is a no brainer and just few one-time configuration steps are necessary to bring your CIFS Server up and running.

Preparing a ZFS file system

We will share a ZFS file system which we usually create with the following command:

# zfs create file-system-name

Once the file system is created, we configure the SMB sharing:

# zfs set sharesmb=on file-system-name

As described in the official ZFS documentation (for Solaris Express) or in the zfs(1M) man page, the sharesmb property can be set to on, off or [options]. The last syntax is useful to pass parameters to the CIFS server. The most useful is the name parameter, which lets you override the automatic name generation for the SMB share:

# zfs set sharesmb=name=smb-name file-system-name

The automatic name generation works fine but sometimes it must change illegal characters which appear in the dataset name.

Setting up CIFS Server in workgroup mode

The CIFS Server can work in both domain and workgroup mode. The domain mode is useful when you connect to a Windows domain and the very flexible configuration is well detailed in the official CIFS service administrator guide. In my case the workgroup mode is fine and that's the configuration I'll detail here.

Starting the service

If it's not started yet, you'll have to start the CIFS server. Please be aware that if you're running Samba in your Solaris box, you'll have to stop it first.

# svcadm enable -r smb/server

Joining a workgroup

To be able to use shares, you have to join a workgroup:

# smbadm join -w workgroup

Configuring password encryption

To be able to authenticate you must configure Solaris to support password encryption for CIFS. To do this, open the /etc/pam.conf file and add the following entry:

other password required nowarn

Generating or recreating passwords

Now that CIFS password encryption has been configured, you'll have to regenerate the passwords for the users you want to use with it because the CIFS service cannot use Solaris password encryption, which was used before /etc/pam.conf was reconfigured. The passwd command will take care of that:

# passwd user


With just these few steps you'll have your CIFS server up and running in workgroup mode. Now you can share whichever ZFS file system you want just setting its sharesmb property.


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