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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

Location

333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States

WWW: acer.com

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June 14, 2011 |

Samba 4 Cracks the Active Directory Code

The newest version of the open source software not only enables a non-Windows server to communicate with a Windows Server environment, but overcomes the Active Directory obstacle. By J. Trent Leonard

Windows Server customers that used any part of Microsoft’s Active Directory for network services have been locked into Microsoft-only solutions for years. That is, Windows client computers used by, say, a retailer’s employees for the company’s point-of-sale solution, had to access Windows Server software on the back end. No other server operating system—Linux, Unix, Mac OS X, or others—could be deployed.

Soon, however, with version 4 of Samba—open source software that enables a non-Windows server to communicate with a Windows Server environment—SMBs with Windows on their desktops will be able to use whatever server solution makes sense for their business, without the subsequent Microsoft lock-in. So instead of spending roughly $1,000 for a Windows Server R2 Standard license, a business can reallocate that money for a more robust backup solution, for example, and both the customer and VAR win.

Samba is an implementation of IBM’s Server Message Block networking protocol from the 1980s used to enable the DOS operating system to support networking. Microsoft merged the protocol with its LAN manager tool and added new features over the years, finally renaming it Common Internet File System, or CIFS, in 1996. CIFS was the piece of the puzzle that made possible network communication between Windows machines—from front end to back end.

Samba was originally created to reverse-engineer CIFS for interoperability with non-Microsoft operating systems. It was successful, but the Active Directory obstacle remained. As part of the settlement in the European Union–Microsoft antitrust case in 2007, however, Microsoft had to provide its workgroup server protocol documentation to the Samba team, which included the application programming interface for Microsoft’s Active Directory.

Four years later, Samba 4 is in active alpha release; there is no formally announced beta schedule. Notwithstanding, there are dozens of sites using the software. The Samba team states that the current software is not yet production-ready, but that sites currently using it have been doing so without incident


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