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Troubled PC connection to Ubuntu server

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"Windows machines" (or whatever) - not "PCs". PC is a (now loose) term for architecture, not a term for "MS Windows".

Thing about ping is that you will never know how the server name was resolved. Try nslookup to see if DNS is resolving, or nbtstat, or whatnot.

You might want to try Wireshark or some other packet capture and analysis utility to see what is happening between the Windows boxes and the server.

If this is a sudden appearance of a problem, review the latest Windows Updates for possible clues.