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Samba And Netatalk - Is There A Better Solution? 21

Traverser asks: "I'm looking for a solution that allows Windows and Apple users to share a file store. Samba works great for the Windows systems. Netatalk works great for the Apple users. But each solution has its own style of file locking on the server: which means that if the same file were opened under Netatalk and Samba at the same time, there is a chance the file would become corrupt and unusable. Putting Dave on the Macintosh provided further layers of troubles. The WindowsNT AppleTalk driver doesn't seem to like Netatalk. WebDAV seems like a good alternative, except the tools are not mature enough on the Macintosh side to put in a production enviorment. NFS seems like a better solution, except the price per client suggests moving towards a commercial solution. Novell has moved support of the Netware Macintosh client to ProSoft Engineering. The current Novell client is still buggy and there is no visible development for a new client. I hate to say it but I'm back to the Microsoft solution. I really hope I'm missing something..."
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Samba And Netatalk - Is There A Better Solution?

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  • by jfunk ( 33224 ) <> on Monday January 29, 2001 @09:40PM (#471412) Homepage
    AFS + Netatalk is used in many places. You can compile Netatalk with AFS support.

    I haven't tried it but it is described here [].

    There are also AFS clients for Windows, and Samba is supposedly "AFS-Aware."

    It's worth a shot.
  • Stay away from DAVE! It is *not* very well behaved, sometimes.
    I'm also interested in alternatives, because I will shortly be implementing a system for batch image processing in a production environment, and it will need to talk to a whole bunch of Macs, and one Windoz PC.
    I haven't looked too closely at the file locking side of things, because I've been concentrating on network performance (throughput)
    Interesting thought on the above - Appleshare over IP - throughput is faster, but is glacially slow in listing directory contents, yet over Appletalk directory listing is an order of magnitude faster - go figure!

  • For a commercial implementation that really pays back I would recommend Helios EtherShare and PCshare. It runs very fast on Linux and can also handle huge files for transfers. It's one of the fastest or the fastest available solutions and very widely used in the graphics arts industry.

    OK, the price tag is pretty high, but if it is for commercial duties where it pays back it's certainly worth checking out.

    There's a very good article written by Jeff Wall on the subj of file sharing in connection with Macs. He compares different server side software on different architectures, including Linux, Winducks, Solaris, MacOS, and I believe AIX, Irix, and *BSD as well. Search the web for the article and decide which might be best for you.

    For high duty Helios is great (just compare the numbers!), for average duty you will be probably best off using some open source stuff.


  • Samba has support for "kernel level oplocks" on both Linux and (I think) IRIX. This allows the OS to enforce locks, even in a multi-server setup like you describe.
  • Novell has announced a "File Protocol Enhancement Pack," currently in beta, that supports NFS, SMB, and Appletalk on the server, with the clients using their native protocols (no Novell client at all.) Should be out the first half of this year. If it does what they say it will, it will be good. Of course, you'll need NetWare 5.1 or later to run it, and Novell's NSS for the file volumes.
  • I worked for a lab for about 18 months, during which time I setup a unix server with Samba and Netatalk to support several workstations. There were definitely some glitches with the cross-platform sharing, but it seemed to work moderately well, over all. Samba is *highly* configurable, and I suspect there is a way to get it to "play nice" with Netatalk's locking. Unfortunately, I'm not enough of a Samba guru to know what this would involve.
  • by mattdm ( 1931 )
    AFS isn't trivial to set up and maintain. It's very cool, though. For those interested, check out OpenAFS [], based on an open source fork of the IBM/Transarc codebase, and Arla [], a completely from scratch open source implementation.

    The Arla client works very well, but I don't think the server is considered stable. I'm not sure about the server side of OpenAFS either.


  • If you are willing to upgrade to MacOS X for the clients, netatalk (as it stands now) won't be able to work with them. However, NFS is natively supported by Mac OS X clients. Netatalk for Mac OS 9 and earlier, Samba for Win clients, and NFS for everyone else...

    When Mac OS X server comes out, it will natively host AFP, Samba, NFS, FTP and WebDAV out of the box.
  • From personal experience I'd have to say that your best solutions will probably be commercial. Many of the open source options have flukes as you mention. You could spend a lot of time trying to find just the right combination of Open Source solutions to get things working for you, or you could go with a relatively inexpensive commercial option.

    One of the options would be to get a Snap Server as someone mentioned. These hook up to the network easily, they require little maintenance, they work well and they would solve your problem fairly well. Snap servers are also relatively inexpensive.

    Another option is the dedicated server appliance type of thing. These are often preconfigured to do just the kind of file sharing. If you want to support open source development, these often use open source tools, but precompiled, tweaked and made to work easily.

    Another option is to get an older Mac and use AppleShare IP. AppleShare IP does support filesharing for Windows and Mac clients and does a reasonably good job at it. AS:IP is easy to setup and doesn't need a lot of equipment (it can run well on a G3 iMac or Tower).

    For a more expensive option that would require waiting you can look to OS X Server, which will support filesharing between a variety of systems, including providing NFS shares as well as SMB and AppleShare. However, OSX Server will not be available until March and will require newer hardware to function well. AppleShare IP is being transferred into OSX Server, so that will be the eventual official upgrade path should you choose to go with AS:IP now, however, there will undoubtedly be other options and possibly the Open Source products will be stable and robust enough to meet your needs then that you could install LinuxPPC or one of the BSD's on the PowerMac box being used as the AS:IP server.
  • Connectix just came out with a SMB client for the mac that supposedly is much easier to use than DAVE.

    It's $99 a copy.

  • The place I used to work at had a few Macs including a Mac (Appleshare) server. We used Miramar Systems PC-MacLan on the PCs. Pretty much trouble free and gives you post script drivers for the PC as well.

    I think Miramar is at
  • by phutureboy ( 70690 ) on Tuesday January 30, 2001 @02:40PM (#471423)
    I second this. I have worked with quite a few Appleshare server products under Unix, VMS, NT and OS/2, and Helios kicked ass over all others. It is quite pricy though.

    Incidentally, I don't know if anyone here has mentioned this but the netatalk project has recently been revived after years of stagnating at 1.4b2+asun. They're working on a 1.5 release - it's worth checking out to see if the Samba locking problem is fixed. I know that is an often-requested feature. See

    Some other *nix Appleshare solutions include PacerShare (forget what its called now - someone bought them i think), uShare, Syntax and CAP.

  • Novell's hype, which is usually more accurate than Locutus', says that 6 (which is due out shortly) will be the answer to your prayers. It is supposed to be able to talk to Apples, *nix, and Windows* all in their own native tongue. If this is even close to being true, it is the answer to your problem

  • Ditch the Macs. Or ditch the PC's. There aren't any applications in any category (CAD might require PC's) that can't be found on both platforms. Tell the OS bigots in your office to take a hike, and _really_ solve your problem.

    File sharing is only the beginning. Then you have to worry about font matching. And document conversion. And printing. Ad nauseum.

    The problem here is not file sharing. It's OS bigotry. Supporting two disparate platforms that can both do the same thing is nothing but extra work and an aggravation. Your job is to support the mission of your company, not to molly coddle individual computer users and all of their predjudices and phobias. Solve that problem and you'll be all set.

    Whatever you do, make sure you garner the support of management, though. Who, I understand, are often the ones causing problems in the first place. Sigh.
  • Isn't OS X going to support NFS? So perhaps that is also an option. Although for the reasons I already mentioned, I would seriously consider rethinking your true objectives.
  • .htm

    Mac File Sharing, Windows File Sharing.

    One box.
  • My company makes a product that allows this -- ExtremeZ-IP. It does Apple/Win file sharing over TCP. .h tml
  • Its been a while since I have really looked at the compile-time options for samba, but I believe there is a --with-netatalk option that may minimize some of the locking issues between the two packages.
  • We were posed with the problem. We were using Xinet KAShare for MAcs to get files from UNIX systems (IRIX and Solaris) and SAMBA for the PCs to get their files. We decided to ditch KAShare and just run SAMBA on all the servers. We got licenses for software from Connectix called DoubleTalk. Lets the Mac clients use smb. Now the Macs can get to UNIX boxes running SAMBA as well as the NT servers!
  • While I spend my time building custom configured Mac Servers or Linux machines so Samba can be used, but the best solution in my opinion is the Cobalt Qube 3. At around $1200 for the base model and $2000 for the pro unit. This box took me only ten minutes to set up, and the volumes appeared on Mac and PC instantly. The beauty is you can also administrate a website as well as everyday file sharing. A print server it is not, but it does do practically everything else. The dual ethernet ports allow you to create a VPN while configuring over 100 users to shared internet resources via it's built in administration and firewall features. Want to know more, feel free to ask? Best Regards, Jordan
  • Also, Appleshare and Quantum Snap servers are great, but I have found the Cobalt Qube has the most bang for the buck. No software necessary. As far as NFS - DONT DO IT, It's expensive, and any hardcore mac user will hate you. Novell is way behind the times. Just My oppinion.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter