Samba 4 is out.

On 11 December Samba 4.0.0 was released. This new Samba version can act as a Active Directory domain controller. I decided too look at it and see if it would be useful for the Home Server articles on this server.

First I created a Slackware package and installed that on the Home Server machine. Using the samba-tool command I first did a migration from Samba 3 to Samba 4. That didn’t work because the Samba 3 server in the home server is a standalone server. It seems that the migration only works for a PDC configuration.

The next attempt was to do a fresh install as a Domain Controller using the internal DNS server. Yes, this new Samba has an internal NS server just like a real Windows server has. The good thing is that you can maintain this server from a Windows client using domain administration tools that you can download from Microsoft. Links are available in the official Samba4 HOWTO. In fact, everything looks alright from a Windows workstation that is a member in the Active Directory domain.

Our Home Server has a DHCP server, (you need the ISC server, not dnsmasq), and this server can update a bind DNS server. Unfortunate you cannot update the Samba DNS from the DHCPD deamon.

Then I started over again, but now I did the provision with DNS set to BIND9_FLATFILE and had the bind DNS server running as standard server on the Home Server. With some tweaks in the configuration, the Samba DNS server accepts updates from the DHCP server, but you cannot maintain the DNS server from a Windows workstation. It looks like the workstation running under an Administrator account is not allowed to connect to the bind DNS server via the Samba server.

Further tests showed that Windows clients cannot see the AD machine and shares, that part of the windows protocol is not yet present in Samba 4. But a windows client that is not a member of the AD domain, can attach shares if they know the name and a valid account with password on the DC. Home directories are not available, or I don’t know how to make that work.

Speaking of that, not knowing how to do things, all documentation on the Samba site are only valid for the Samba 3 series. For Samba 4 there is only a HOWTO, and some small documents, it is simply not enough.

My conclusion is that Samba 4 is already very good, but not yet ready for this Home Server project. For the time being, just keep on using the Samba 3 servers for small networks like this, it is compatible with all Windows versions released since Windows 2000 and it is well documented.