One of the cornerstones of free software, Samba, took another leap forward project leads Jeremy Allison and Andrew Tridgell announced yesterday.
Unglamorous but hugely important, the new version of the Windows file and print services substitute, now at version 2.2.0, adds a bundle of goodies. As before, it continues to enhance its appeal as a replacement Windows authentication server. Samba makes Microsoft Client Access Licenses - mandatory for printing and basic file sharing in a Microsoft environment - effectively redundant. Which at $50 a pop, makes for a potentially huge saving.
And CALs are a piece of tollbooth revenue that Microsoft has been singularly reluctant to drop. It's pretty much regarded as sacred, in fact: even Citrix thin clients are obliged to pay the Windows CAL tax.
However, on Slashdot, Allison stresses that although the new release performs much of the work of a Windows PDC (Primary Domain Controller) server, it shouldn't be considered a drop-in replacement:
"It doesn't do replication or BDC Stuff yet - but it works well enough to put Windows 2000 or Windows NT clients into a Samba hosted domain, and have people log in and authenticate against it, and download profiles from it. For many small sites this is all they need - not the full PDC stuff," he writes.
Other neat tricks that the Samba Team can boast about include the ability to download Windows printer drivers transparently to non-Windows client machines, and unifying the access control lists on the Linux and Windows boxes. So BOFHs don't need to keep separate lists in sync.
But where we've been most intrigued by Samba's progress is in hardware, as Annie Kermath highlighted here last June. File and print services are a commodity protocol, so it's only natural that you should have cheap, commodity box, right? Samba's winbind provides the lubrication for el cheapo print and storage appliances from Cobalt and VA Linux (Allison and Tridgell's daytime employer) among others. ®