The Samba team isn't expecting to release Samba 4 until the first half of 2011 (optimistically) but work on support for Microsoft's SMB2 -- and older SMB/CIFS -- has moved ahead quite nicely.
Samba leader Jeremy Allison said support for SMB2 -- which was introduced in the Windows Vista client -- is finished and will be made available for testing in the next significant Samba release.
"It's already complete. OEM's are testing [and it] will be officially released in [Samba] 3.6.0 but not as the default protocol as the Linux distros are conservative," wrote Allison, noting that default support for the latest SMB2 protocol won't come until Linux distributors are satisfied with field testing.
Why is SMB2 support important for Samba?
"Well, Microsoft now no longer ship or support an OS that doesn't implement SMB2 by default out of the box, so it's needed for continued Samba support," Allison wrote, adding that SMB2 has some advantages for Linux/Unix user, "but the main one is that the Windows developers finally did what we did to our SMB1 client code a long time ago, which is to finally allow the client to have more than one outstanding read/write request against the server. With a high latency TCP pipe this allows much more efficient use of the bandwidth as it means you can fill it with reads or writes without having to wait for a reply for each one."
Meanwhile, another Samba contributor reports that his company has completed a year long SMB/CIFS protocol documentation project with Microsoft that will enable far great Windows client support for Linux/Unix servers running Samba.
ubiqx developed the two new documents -- MS-CIFS and Microsoft SMB -- with Microsoft's help over the last year or so. Microsoft renamed its Simple Message Block (SMB) protocol to Common Internet File System (CIFS) but both protocols document Windows client internals.
The two documents total roughly 1000 pages. They were both completed last year.
[Editor's note: ubiqx only recently alerted ZDNet to the completion of those docs but they were both finished in 2009]
The project went better than expected, reports Christopher Hertel, Founder, CTO, and CIFS Geek at ubiqx Consulting in St Paul, Minnesota. Hertel took a leave from the Samba project because of the close working relationship with Microsoft.
" We (the SMB/CIFS development community) have not had anything that even approaches a complete, comprehensive, and accurate specification since 1992, and even the 1992 documents were out of date within a year," said Hertel.
He said Microsoft extended its contract twice to bolster the protocol documentation for better interoperability and ensure it is properly maintained going forward.
Microsoft "added a whole pile of additional information to the two documents we already completed," he wrote. "My company met [the initial goals] and the documents were accepted but a request was made to add a large number of behavior notes to explain how the protocol interacted with Windows internals, which is useful for third party implementers to know since it provides in depth semantics."
"There is quite a serious effort within Microsoft to make sure these documents (the entire set) are complete and correct, so the document enhancement requests result in improvements and updates that everyone sees," Hertel added. "My work with Microsoft to develop the two new documents ([MS-CIFS] and [MS-SMB]) helps the NAS development community as a whole. "
Smart move for Samba and smart move for Microsoft, which should do all it can to protect and extend its Windows client business -- even if it benefits Linux server developers a well.
Ubiqx is now working with Microsoft to develop extensions to the SMB2 protocol to support Unix/Linux clients and servers.