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January 25, 2006

Samba 4 beta targets Active Directory

Posted by David Hunter at 7:56 PM ET.

Speaking of licensing Windows Server source code, the developers of Samba, a popular open source Windows-compatible file and print server, just announced a beta of Samba 4:

A next-generation test version of the open-source Samba file-sharing software has been made available, with features emulating Microsoft’s Active Directory ID management software.

The popular Samba suite is an implementation of Microsoft’s SMB (Server Message Block)/CIFS (Common Internet File System) protocol that allows other operating systems to emulate or interoperate with Windows for the purposes of sharing files or printing.

The new version of the software was released Wednesday in conjunction with a speech on the subject by Australia-based Samba creator Andrew Tridgell at the Linux.conf.au conference in New Zealand.

The point being that Samba, and open source development projects in general, will not license Microsoft source under the terms established for the US source code licensing:

After struggles with the U.S. Justice Department, Microsoft made Windows client protocols available in the U.S. as directed. But the way it implemented licensing agreements was to charge a royalty on each product shipped using the protocols. The move effectively prevented the inclusion of the protocols in open-source code, since the General Public License that governs Linux, Samba, and other open-source code prohibits including anything that requires a royalty payment, Allison says.

Allison says Microsoft’s cooperation with the Samba development team ended in 1999 as Linux’ popularity became a threat in the server market. Now the team accomplishes compatibility with Windows systems through “network analysis”–a more-elegant term than “reverse engineering,” which used to be used to describe Samba’s ability to achieve compatibility.

As for the latest version of Samba, Joshua Wulf reports:

They put in their own LDAP server because of non-standard Microsoft fields, including Security Descriptors, that wouldn’t work well with the MIT LDAP server or Fedora Directory Server.

The Vampire migration tool now has “longer fangs”, and can take over an Active Directory domain. Tridge demonstrated sucking the life out of a Windows 2003 PDC in one click, importing all its user and machine information using SWAT. He then restarted bind on his Samba 4 server, changed the server role to PDC in smb.conf (this will be automatic in the final release), shut down the Windows PDC, and then logged into the domain with an XP client using the new Samba 4 server as the PDC. This elicited suitable oohs and aahs from the audience.

Microsoft has introduced a new protocol – SMB2 – with the latest Vista technology preview, and the boys on the Samba team are having more fun than they’ve had since the 90′s reverse-engineering it, and they have released their implementation, in Samba 4 technology preview, before Microsoft. Booyakasha!

It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, the EC does with the Microsoft source license offer.



Filed under Active Directory, Antitrust, Legal, Open Source, SMB2, Samba, Technologies

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One Response to “Samba 4 beta targets Active Directory”

  1. Samba gets Microsoft workgroup server protocols | Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] The licensing and the patents were the crux of the problem and while the Samba folks chugged on with reverse engineering, this will make their job considerably easier without restricting Samba open source availability. It also solves a sticky problem for Microsoft in that Samba was the only major competitive workgroup server implementation still standing and having nobody to share protocol information with on Microsoft’s terms was liable to rouse the ire of the European Commission.   Filed under Open Source, Legal, Governmental Relations, General Business, Antitrust, Samba, Microsoft   [Permalink] [TrackBack] [...]

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