The final version Samba 4.0 won't be delivered until late 2011, or 2012, yet a major update is expected soon.
In a recent email to this blogger, Jeremy Allison, a lead developer on the project who works in Google's open source programs office, said he is unsure of the exact date of 4.0's release. But 3.6 is right around the corner, he notes.
"Well, [Samba] 3.6.0 comes first. We're about to go rc2 in a week or so. Then it's the race to fix all the showstoppers for a 4.0.0 release. Sometime the end of the year?"
Samba 3.6 actually reached second release candidate stage on June 7. That features SMB2 protocol support, enhanced SMB traffic analysis, enhanced security, changes to the Internal Winbind passdb and ID mapping functionality and a new Spoolss code.
The SMB2 protocol developed by Microsoft is used in Vista and later Windows operating systems. SMB 2.1 is used in Windows 7.
Samba software runs on many platforms other than Windows, including Unix and Linux, allowing the host to talk to a Windows client and server as if it is a Windows file and print server.
That's why the interoperability code is incorporated in most Linux distributions and other platforms requiring interoperability with Windows, such as VMware 2.0 for Linux. The open source code offers file and print services for different Windows clients and can be incorporated as a Windows Server Domain.
Version 4.0, whose unfinished source code was introduced in Samba 3.4, is a major rewrite that enables Samba to function as an Active Directory domain controller. The most recent version is 4.0.0-alpha19.
Although many IT pros using the 4.0 code in test mode bump into snags here and there, at least one tester said he has tried many Active Directory functions including Group policy objects, adding and removing users, roaming profiles and DNS updates successfully.
"I'm running Samba4 alpha 12 as the only DC and file server on my local network," wrote one tester on the Samba mailing list. "It is working well. After the initial setup, everything can be managed from a Windows workstation. Essentially the main functions you would expect from a Win 2003 server will be there. It's been almost 10 months since I installed it, and it's been smooth sailing so far."