Samba is one of those pieces of software that makes life possible within a homogeneous environment. You want Windows, Mac, and Linux to talk to one another, you use Samba. But for some, configuring Samba can be a challenge.
Thankfully, tools are available that can help nearly every skill level with the task. If you're a newbie, there's a tool that can help you get Samba configured. If you're a master, there's always the command line. But which apps are best suited for you? Let's take a look and find out.
Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.
1: system-config-sambaThis is the GUI tool that all new Samba admins should be using. System-config-samba (Figure A) can be installed onto practically any Linux distribution and is incredibly easy to use. With this tool, you can configure the shares to be handed out, as well as the Samba server settings. The GUI isn't cluttered with too many bells and whistles to confuse the user, so getting shares added is as simple as clicking the Add button and filling in a few bits of information.
2: SwatSwat (Figure B) is the original GUI tool for Samba. It's a Web-based tool that allows you to get much deeper into the configuration of Samba than any other tool. Although newbies can use it, they may quickly become intimidated by the number of options available. Once Swat is installed, you reach it by going to:
3: GAdmin SAMBAGAdmin SAMBA (Figure B) is part of the GAdmin Tools administration toolkit and doesn't disappoint. This GUI tool can satisfy by any level of experience and will allow the newbie plenty of room to grow. Although there is a bit of a learning curve with this interface, once you've figured it out, you'll be rocking out Samba shares like crazy. GAdmin SAMBA also offers multiple local and remote user and group import and on-the-fly share creation and user handling.
4: Webmin Samba ModuleWebmin, being one of the most powerful administration tools, naturally offers a Samba module. Webmin Samba Module (Figure D) offers everything you want in a Samba administration package: share, printer, share mode configuration as well as the ability to easily manage user access to different shares.
Webmin Samba Module
5: Command lineFor those of you Samba masters, the command line (Figure E) is the thing. WIth the help of your favorite text editor (such as nano, vi, or emacs), you can configure and manage every single aspect of your Samba server. Naturally, this isn't the tool for new users. But even they should begin to examine the configuration file found in /etc/samba/smb.conf. Learn how your GUI tool configures Samba by viewing this file and eventually you'll be a Samba master as well.
When working within a business environment, you will more than likely come across the need for Samba. But Samba isn't your average tool that can be easily configured by anyone. You need a certain amount of skill to understand how Samba works. Even so, that doesn't mean you have to deal with overly complicated tools to set up those shares. Plenty of tools out there can get the job done. The five listed here, in my opinion, are the best.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.