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How to Create Samba (Windows) Shares in Linux the Easy Way

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When you’re using Linux, a popular way to share files with Windows is via Samba. For beginners, it can be a real pain to configure it manually, but with the right tool, it’s as easy as pie.

Way back in 2007, we showed you how to install Samba on Ubuntu. Things haven’t changed much, except that there are more ways to configure it. If you don’t have Samba installed and you aren’t afraid of the command-line, just follow the first step in that article and rejoin us here for the rest. If that’s a bit too intimidating, just scroll down.

Installing the Samba Config Tool

Since this guide is for beginners, why don’t we go through the Ubuntu Software Center? Open that up, and search for “samba” in the upper-right corner.

Ubuntu Software Center_007

(Click screenshot for larger view.)

You’ll see a few different packages come up. The first one in our screenshot is the actual Samba package (above the highlighted one), called “SMB/CIFS file, print, and login server for Unix”. If you haven’t installed it yet, now is the time to do so. Just click on it and then click the Install button on the right that comes up.

For our tool, however, we want “Samba,” which is the highlighted software. Click on More Info to check it out.

Ubuntu Software Center_008

(Click screenshot for larger view.)

You can see that the package name is “system-config-samba” and that means we’ve got the right one. Just click the Install button. I’ve already got it installed, so I have a “Remove” button in its place.

If you want to skip all of that and just use the command-line, here’s what you need to run:

sudo apt-get install system-config-samba

Once you’re all set up, you can add users and shares!

Adding Users

While Samba can work without user accounts (using a “guest” account), it’s best to be safe and enforce password-based use. Each Samba user will need a local account first. We’ve highlighted how to do this using the GUI in a previous article, How To Create a Family-Friendly Ubuntu Setup. You should also be able to do this quickly on the command-line, as outlined in Create a New User on Ubuntu Server 9.10 – don’t worry about the older version number, it still works the same way in Natty.

Once you’ve got local user accounts all set up, open up the Samba configuration tool from System > Administration > Samba and entering your root password when prompted.

Samba Server Configuration_009

Go to Preferences > Samba Users.

Samba Users_022

Here, you can add and delete users by clicking on the appropriate buttons. You can also manually change users’ passwords by clicking Edit User. It’s that easy!

Server Settings

Next, let’s change some server settings to suit our needs. Back at the main screen for our utility, click Preferences > Server Settings.

Server Settings_010

In the Basic tab, you can add your WIndows Workgroup name and a description for the Samba server.

Server Settings_011

In the Security tab, we strongly recommend you use User Authentication Mode, as this will allow or disallow shares based on your configured Samba users. We also strongly recommend you encrypt your passwords and disable the guest account. When you’re done, click OK.

Adding Shares

To add a share, just click the green plus sign on the tool’s main window, or go to File > Add Share.

Create Samba Share_019

Type in the directory you want to share, or click Browse to navigate to it with the mouse. Enter the shared folder’s name and a description. You can leave the share as read-only, or click the check-box to make it writable. You’ll probably also want to make it visible, so you can navigate to it properly on Windows machines from your network.

Create Samba Share_020

Under the Access tab, you can manually specify users who have access to this share, or you can allow everyone to access it. If you choose “Allow access to everyone” but you specified that user authentication was required from Server Settings, users will still need a valid account and password on this system to access those shares. To add more shared locations, lather, rinse and repeat!


Setting up Samba on a home Linux server is an ideal way to let everyone share files quickly, easily, and securely inside your home network. Macs won’t be left out, either, as a matter of fact, and everyone can rest easy knowing that it’s simple to manage.

Do you have a preferred setup for Samba? Do you user something else instead? Share your thoughts below!

Yatri Trivedi is a monk-like geek. When he's not overdosing on meditation and geek news of all kinds, he's hacking and tweaking something, often while mumbling in 4 or 5 other languages.

  • Published 09/16/11

Comments (6)

  1. Anonymous

    what about a headless workstation?
    what’s easiest way via ssh?

  2. cam2644

    good stuff

  3. Two Replies

    Don’t use this to transfer files between two linux workstations, use ssh with scp (and a shared public key if you don’t want to enter passwords).

  4. Kodess

    @Anonymous go to the smb.conf and edit it :)
    dont know where it is in ubuntu (im using SliTaZ)

  5. lefty.crupps

    This isn’t Linux, this is Ubuntu Linux with GNOME’s tools. This isn’t how its done on, say, Fedora with KDE. Your title is misleadingly broad.

  6. geek

    The title should read:

    How to Create Samba (Windows) Shares in Linux/Ubuntu the Easy Way

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