Sunday, March 29, 2009

Creating Samba shares with no username or password in Ubuntu Linux

Samba sometimes frustrates me. It seems to be very picky about under what circumstances it will actually let you broadcast the existence of your Linux machine on your LAN, and share a folder with read and write permissions for other Linux or Windows users to see.

After a little tinkering, here's how I went about doing just that.

(thanks to for most of the tips)


(1) Make sure you have Samba installed. As far as I remember, it is included with most distributions, but just in case, try this --

sudo apt-get install samba

(2) Now you need to modify the Samba configuration file located at /etc/samba/smb.conf and make some changes to remove the necessity to type in a username and password every time you wish to access a share. Run --

sudo gedit /etc/samba/smb.conf

(3) At some point, you might want to share a folder that does not belong to you on the network. To allow this, under the [global] section of this file, add (copy + paste) the following line --

usershare owner only = False

(4) Find the variable "security" (in the global section) and ensure that it is set to "share". The security line should look like this --

security = share

(if you absolutely can't find the security variable anywhere, add it to the file under the global section)

(5) Find the variable "guest account" (in the global section) and ensure that is set to "nobody". The guest account line should look like this --

guest account = nobody

(if you absolutely can't find the guest account variable anywhere, add it to the file under the global section)

(6) One guide I found said that since you are making Samba security insecure, you should ensure that only your local network can access the Samba service. I personally did not end up keeping this line in my smb.conf, because I did not seem to have any success getting Samba up and running by adding this to the config file, but you can (and probably should) at least try this to make sure it works. So go ahead and add this in, and if you can't access Samba/any shares after finishing the guide, remove the line altogether (or make sure you have permitted the right interface to bind).

To try this, you need to set the interfaces variable to lo and your local network interface (e.g eth0, eth1, wlan0) and you need to specify that only these interfaces can bind

interfaces = lo eth0
bind interfaces only = true

(7) Now, smb.conf should be set. Restart the samba daemon like this --

sudo service samba restart

(8) At this point, you have two options to add a shared folder on your machine. There's the easy way, that actually seems to work, and there's the hard, theoretical way, that I havn't had any sucess why. I'll go over the easy way first.

The easy way to share a folder is similar to the way you share a folder in Windows. All you need to do is right click on the folder in the question, press "Sharing Options", and fill out the resulting dialog. I recommend the following options --

At this point, you should be done. Congratulations. You should be able to access your shared folder by browsing your workgroup from another machine (Windows or Linux-based).

As far as I know, the name of your server is the host name of your computer, truncated to 15 characters. For example, the host name of my computer is andrew-laptop-mint. I can access my samba shares from Windows, for example, with \\andrew-laptop-m\Share (for example). You can get your host name by simply opening up a terminal and typing in hostname.

EXTRA: Here's the hard, theoretical way to add a shared folder in Samba --

(1) Run the following --

sudo gedit /etc/samba/smb.conf

(2) Near the bottom of the file, or where the other entires of this sort seem to be, add the following text (replacing generic items I've written in with your own variables, of course)

path = /folder/to/share
comment = Insert comment here
read only = no
available = yes
browseable = yes
writable = yes
guest ok = yes
public = yes
printable = no
share modes = no
locking = no

(3) Run this --

sudo service samba restart

(4) You should have a shared folder now, although I can't say I've had any success with this. What's even more interesting is that the "Sharing options" method I described above doesn't seem to add anything of this sort to smb.conf. I don't know what's going on, maybe someone can enlighten me.

Good luck!