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Book Review - Samba-3 HOWTO and Reference Guide

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 12:03 pm    Post subject: Book Review - Samba-3 HOWTO and Reference Guide Reply with quote

The Official Samba-3 HOWTO and Reference Guide, Second Edition

Editors: John H. Terpstra, Jelmer R. Vernooij
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR http://www.phptr.com
Date Published: August 2005
Book Specifications: Softcover, 873 pages
Category: UNIX/Linux
Publisher's Suggested User Level: Not rated
Reviewer's Recommended User Level: SAMBA beginners, Intermediate UNIX/Linux Users & Administrators
Suggested Publisher Price: $54.99 US / $75.99 CDN
ISBN: 0-13-188222-8
Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0131882228
Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0131882228

Blurb from back cover:
You've deployed Samba: Now get the most out of it with today's definitive guide to maximising Samba performance, stability, reliability and power in your production environment. Direct from members of the Samba team, The Official Samba-3 HOWTO and Reference Guide, Second Edition, offers the most systematic and authoritative coverage of Samba's advanced features and capabilities. It has been extensively updated to reflect major improvements in the Samba-3.0 series of releases and additional performance enhancements in Samba-3.2.0 and later.

Use this book to go far beyond basic deployment, leveraging all of Samba's components, from directory services to remote administration. Use it to find practical optimisation techniques for any environment, from the workgroup to the enterprise. Use it to find detailed guidance and best practices for troubleshooting and problem solving. And, if your background is in Windows networking, use this book to get up to speed rapidly with Samba network administration in Linux/UNIX environments.

Samba is an essential tool in the hybrid network environments of today, where Windows and Linux are mixed and matched to maximise the utility of each one. As with many open-source projects, Samba documentation and support can be difficult to find, and this book steps in to fill that void with an informative and comprehensive reference.

Chapter Synopsis & Review Comments
The book splits discussion into six parts: general installation, server configuration, advanced configuration, migration and updating, troubleshooting, and a reference section.

Chapter 1 covers installing and testing Samba. The topics covered include obtaining Samba, configuring the smb.conf file, and connecting from UNIX and remote clients. The chapter is rounded off with a troubleshooting section looking at common errors in the installation and configuration procedure.

Chapter 2 is a “fast start”, for those wanting worked examples of live configurations, so that they can get started quickly. The chapters three example setups are presented as smb.conf directives, along with a discussion of the features provided by each setup.

In chapter 3, the server configuration section begins, looking at server types and security modes. User-level, share-level, domain-security, ADS security mode and Server Security are discussed, along with password checking. Again, the chapter ends with a section looking at common errors resulting from applying the information elsewhere in the chapter.

Chapter 4 covers domain control, single sign on, and network login configuration, while chapter 5 looks at backup domain control, using Samba as a secondary domain controller. Active Directory is covered, and an example configuration is provided.

Chapter 6 looks at domain membership, server trust accounts, and sharing user ID mappings between samba domain members.

Standalone servers are covered in chapter 7, which presents yet another example configuration.

Chapter 8 provides a Windows network configuration guide, looking at TCP/IP configuration for a variety of Windows OS versions.

The advanced configuration section begins with chapter 9, which covers network browsing, NetBIOS, TCP/IP, DNS, WINS and Active Directory. Some hints at name resolution order and Windows networking protocols are provided, along with a technical overview of network browsing.

Account information databases are the topic of chapter 10, which looks at account management tools, password backends, MySQL and XML.

Chapter 11 covers group mapping on Windows and UNIX, while chapter 12 looks at the 'net' command for remote and local management, covering user management, trust relationships, rights and privileges and share management.

Chapter 13 looks at identity mapping, and chapter 14 covers user rights and privileges.

File, directory and share access control is the topic of chapter 15, discussing such aspects as filesystem access controls, share access controls, Windows access control lists and UNIX interoperability, whilst file locking is covered in chapter 16.

Chapter 17 covers the always important, but often overlooked, topic of securing Samba, and chapter 18 looks at interdomain trust relationships.

Chapter 19 looks at hosting distributed filesystem trees, and again includes a common errors section, looking at the things which can go wrong.

Printing support is covered in chapters 20 and 21, looking first at classic printing and then at CUPS support.

Chapter 22 discusses stackable VFS modules, which are introduced into the pathway between Samba and the underlying UNIX filesystem. These can provide auditing, permission changes and more. All of these aspects of VFS modules are covered in this chapter.

Chapter 23 looks at domain accounts, while chapter 24 covers advanced network management; remote server administration, remote backup, and network logon scripts.

Chapter 25 covers system and account policies, creating and managing such policies, and looks at some of the tools used in doing so.

Desktop profile management is covered in chapter 26, including a discussion of roaming profiles, mandatory profiles and default profiles.

Chapter 27 looks at PAM-based authentication, while chapter 28 discusses the integration of Windows networks with Samba systems. Name resolution is discussed in detail here, as this differs from Windows to UNIX/Linux.

Chapter 29 covers Unicode and alternate character sets, detailing Samba support for these features.

In chapter 30, backup techniques are presented, including several backup solutions, while chapter 31 continues the theme by looking at high availability solutions.

Chapter 32 covers handling large directories and chapter 33 covers advanced configuration techniques such as multiple server hosting, and virtual hosting.

Part four begins with chapter 34, which looks at upgrading from Samba-2.x to Samba-3. Chapter 35 discusses migrating from Windows NT4 to Samba-3, and chapter 36 looks at SWAT; the Samba Web Administration Tool.

Chapter 37 marks the beginning of the troubleshooting section, and part five. This chapter presents a checklist of assumptions and tests involving Samba. Chapter 38 looks at analysing and solving Samba problems, and chapter 39 looks at reporting bugs, an essential step in the development cycle for Samba.

Part six begins with chapter 40, which describes how to compile Samba, discussing accessing the source code, verifying the PGP signature and building the binary files.

Portability is covered in chapter 41, taking a look at Samba on HPUX, SCO UNIX, DNIX, Red Hat Linux, AIX and Solaris.

Chapter 42 looks at other clients for CIFS, including OS2 and Macintosh clients, Windows for Workgroups, Windows 95/98 and Windows 2000/NT.

Performance tuning is the topic of chapter 43, while chapter 44 looks at LDAP and TLS.

Samba support is explained in chapter 45, covering both free and commercialm support.

DNS and DHCP are discussed in chapter 46, and the final chapter, 47, covers the UNIX manual pages associated with Samba.

Appendix A presents the GNU General Public License.

Style and Detail
The book is a compilation of many HOWTO documents, and as such the style of writing changes throughout. It is not, however, a book you are likely to read cover to cover; far too much information is presented for that. As a reference guide, as something you will pick up off the shelf when you need to know how to achieve something specific in Samba, however, the changing writing style is not likely to be noticeable, and certainly shouldn't distract the reader from the content provided.

At the end of most of the chapters, a “common errors” section looks at some of the main pitfalls, and how to escape or recover from them. This resource is something which can only be obtained by compiling many users experiences, and as such, this book has a major advantages over books written by one or two authors. The ability for a large group of authors to present different sides of Samba makes this book a unique resource.

As a HOWTO and reference, this book excels. It is one of the most comprehensive books I have ever seen on the topic of Samba, and for a book which has been compiled from many HOWTOs, the editing is smooth and mostly consistent. This is a compilation which has been made with the full power and backing of a major publisher, and it shows in the quality of the end product.

The only bad thing I have to say about this book is that most of the information is available online, and in a few months time, the online versions will probably be more up to date. Of course, there is always the benefit of having a book, with a contents table, an index, and a glossary, which outweighs having to search online for your specific requirements.

As a book on Samba, this cannot be faulted. As a resource which will be useful into the distant future, it also performs well. Overall, this book is a solid 10 out of 10. The changing nature of the content is the only issue with this book, and as with anything in print form, nothing can be done about that!

This book receives an honoured SFDC Rating of 10/10.

Keywords: Samba, Linux, UNIX, Windows, domain controller, primary, secondary, backup, WINS, DNS

This review is copyright 2005 by the author, Andrew J. Bennieston, and Security-Forums Dot Com, and may not be reproduced in any form in any media without the express permission of the author, or Security-Forums Dot Com.
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