Doing the Samba in Public

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The open source Samba project is often overshadowed by its more glamorous siblings. That's a pity, because it has played a crucial role in the increasing uptake of free software in companies by providing a bridge between Microsoft systems and GNU/Linux ones:

Since 1992, Samba has provided secure, stable and fast file and print services for all clients using the SMB/CIFS protocol, such as all versions of DOS and Windows, OS/2, Linux and many others.

Samba is an important component to seamlessly integrate Linux/Unix Servers and Desktops into Active Directory environments using the winbind daemon.

Perhaps aware of this lack of recognition, the Samba team has decided to do something bold - start a blog:

Welcome to the Samba Team blog.

Starting today, we're going to try and create semi-regular updates on what is going on in the fast moving world of Samba development, what we're all up to, and where the code is going in the future. This will be a technical blog, with details on the internal changes in Samba code.

Despite this statement that it is a “technical blog”, the opening post contains something rather juicier:

Firstly, we now have a Samba Team member working at Microsoft ! Congratulations to Chris Hertel, who was offered an opportunity to work directly with Microsoft to create a new set of SMB/CIFS protocol documentation. This will be published as part of the MCPP/WSPP set and made freely available from Microsoft's website.

This is the first Microsoft-sponsored SMB/CIFS documentation to be made available without restrictions since the 1997 IETF draft specifications. The first new document, [MS-CIFS], covers the SMB protocol as implemented in Windows NT. It is almost 500 pages at present, and is just entering the review and markup stage. It should be available in a few months.

In order to work with Microsoft on this project, Chris had to found a consulting company and hire a few people.

It's a little hard to tell whether the statement “was offered an opportunity” means that it was Microsoft who instigated the project, or whether it flows from the earlier EU investigation into interoperability that led to Microsoft's documentation being made available to Samba for a nominal sum.

In either case, it good news that Samba will have direct access to specifications instead of having to play the usual cat-and-mouse game of working out the protocols from how they function. This, in its turn, should lead to even better interoperability between the two worlds – something enterprises employing both Microsoft and free software will no doubt welcome.

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