Samba 4 now planned for release on Dec 11

The first open source Active Directory server with SMB3 support, now due in mid December, is ideal for business desktop and storage needs. Samba 4 was a big beneficiary of antitrust orders forcing Microsoft to open up key protocols.
Written by Paula Rooney, Contributor

Samba 4 -- the first open source Active Directory-compatible print and file server -- will now ship on December 11, developers say.

It's a bit of a delay from the recent slated finish date of Nov 27th,  now the targeted date for release candidate 5. Release candidate 4 of Samba was posted on Nov 13.  

Interested parties won't mind the inconseqential delay. The popular open source software has been under development for almost a decade and one of its chief developers is advising would be users to run Samba 4 as a trial and wait for the first update early next year.

"Although it is such a large release, and a big change that for file-serving OEMs, I'm recommending they test 4.0.x in their products and be ready to cut-over for 4.1.x (expected next year)," Samba developer Jeremy Allison wrote to this blogger. "Currently mobile and tablets (even from Microsoft) don't use AD authentication. So this release is much more relevent to business desktop deployments and vendors of storage products than mobile or cloud right now."   

It should be understood that  Samba 4 is a big beneficiary of antitrust court victories forcing Microsoft to release software protocols.

Another chief developer said the release of Samba 4 is a big win for the continued advance of open source in mixed Microsoft environments, including Microsoft's most recent releases of Windows clients and servers. Samba allows for interoperability between Linux servers and Windows-based clients.

"Samba 4.0 is a really important release for the Samba Team, because it brings together two major threads of development into a combined release, one bursting full of major new features ... Bringing SMB3 to Samba
has been a major effort, and I'm sure this new feature will be the basis of many products from our vendor community very soon," wrote Andrew Bartlett. "

"In terms of AD, just as Samba helped make the CIFS file server a commodity over the past 20 years, and just as the directory as a concept has become a commodity, I hope to make Active Directory a commodity, available from more than just Microsoft," Bartlett added.

Some -- including many in the Samba team -- originally expected Samba 4 to be released in the mid 2000s. But antitrust victories against Microsoft, which required the release of key protocol documentation -- enabled the Samba project to go back to the drawingboard and develop a much better implementation of Microsoft's core file and print server.

"Before the release of the WSPP documentation to the public after our victory in the EU courts five years ago, we not only had to implement the full suite of protocols of AD [Active Directory], but discover them all by hand. The process of discovery and implementation has taken us on a long journey, but the outcome is pretty spectacular," Bartlett wrote to this blogger recently.

"With a small, but incredibly talented team, we have built a production AD domain controller, supporting the key features not just of Windows 2000, but also the key features of releases up to 2008R2, in a time not that dissimilar to what Microsoft used to build Windows 2000 in the first place," he added. "We do this by leverage of other key parts of the Free Software stack, like Heimdal Kerberos, and of course the Linux OS we run on, but also by
building the other components we have needed, to emulate Microsoft's particular take on what should and could have been common internet standards."

Jeremy Allison said Samba 4 will have no immediate impact on the BYOD and cloud trends but the server will fit in nicely once these new array of client options offer support for Active Directory.

"iPads and iPhones (or Android) aren't server operating systems, so we won't really run on these. However, some Android clients do support SMB/CIFS (the Archos ones especially) so we'll be a good server platform for
them. Once tablets and BYOD start supporting AD-auth we'll be more relevent in that space," he said.

Bartlett offered up his take.

"In terms of the cloud, I'm very hopeful for the future of Samba as an enabler for cloud vendors.  Much of'the cloud runs Linux, so Samba is a natural fit when vendors need an AD interface for other products that may be hosted there," Bartlett wrote. "Samba also provides the Swiss army knife of interoperability solutions. Because we speak the native AD protocols, we can allow vendors a less intrusive method of hooking in to the home network for information on new users and password changes.  As cloud vendors take up Samba, I look forward to exploring this and other ways of using the technology we build to better serve their customers."




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