As a Mac OS X user, you can share your files with most other Mac users, either via AppleShare or FTP. But you may also want to share your files with those crazy Windows users. The protocol used to communicate among these machines is often referred to as CIFS/SMB (Common Internet File System and Server Message Block). UNIX users have been able to get in on the fun for some time with a program called Samba. Thanks to UNIX roots, it is now available for OS X...
Sure, you can get your hands on the actually Samba source code and try to get it to work, but Samba for OS X offers a much quicker installation experience by installing a precompiled version of Samba 2.07. The release comes in the familiar Mac OS X package file. Double-click, enter your admin password, and Samba will be installed and activated.
You can now tell Samba what files to share. This can either be done by editing the smb.conf file (yuck) or by using a browser-based interface known as SWAT. Make sure to have your 'root' account activated if you want to use SWAT. To connect to SWAT, enter the URL http://localhost:901. You'll then be presented with the following:
You may want to update a few settings before getting to work. Under Globals, you can set the workgroup you'd like to belong to, and your NetBIOS name. If there are certain naming conventions for your network, use them so that other users can find you.
You can then create a share. A share will show users a specific portion of your drive, depending on what directory the share is configured to use. This is so you don't have to expose your entire drive. You can also set Security options, to keep nosy neighbors out of your files. Status will show who is currently accessing your files.
If you have to deal with Windows users, you can make their life a little easier with Samba for OS X.
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Monday's Mac Gadget is here to help you with those cool things that we all just have to have on our Macs. Shareware, Freeware, Postcardware, Emailware, and even commercial apps, Monday's Mac Gadget is here to help you find and use the best of these programs.
John is a software engineer who works in the corporate R&D group of a Fortune 500 company, focusing on all aspects of communications technology. He has several degrees that claim he knows what he's doing when it comes to computers. After watching co-workers reinstall Windows, search for device drivers, and experience other horrors during the day, he's glad that he comes home to a Mac (compatible) computer. Have any comments, suggestions, or favorite Gadgets? Drop John a line at