My Server dances SAMBA (Part 2)
By Kurt Keller
For the ones who missed the first part: I have installed SAMBA, a freeware NetBIOS suite, on my Unix server. Also the OS/2 based notebook is configured for it and working great. The next step is to get Win95 set up for the new configuration. Both, the US and the Japanese version. Basically it is the same, but the Japanese version has a few more pitfalls, I found. Get ready...
Configuring Windows 95 for NetBIOS over TCP/IP is a snap. You do not even need to have the NetBIOS protocol installed, TCP/IP as a protocol and "Client for Microsoft Networks" as a client is sufficient. Unless you actually do use different NetBIOS (LanManager) workgroups, it is also advisable to populate the workgroup box under the Network Properties Identification tab with the same string your server is set to. Now you're ready to use NetBIOS over TCP/IP (provided your TCP/IP settings are correct).
To mount shared directories from the server, click your way through Network Neighborhood, right-click on the resource you want to connect and select to map it to a local drive letter. For printers just setup a new printer and specify it to be a remote printer.
If you want to also export resources from your Windows machine so they can be accessed by other clients on the network, "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks" first needs to be added as a service in your Network Properties. Right-clicking on any resource (drive/directory/printer), you then can select "Sharing" and specify whether or not the resource should be made available, whether it is read only or read/write for clients and it is also possible to password protect access.
I urge you not to enable "Logon to Windows NT Domain" under "Client for MS Networks" unless you need to. Queries for the specified NT Domain will be sent via TCP/IP to your defined DNS server as well. And if you do not have an NT Domain server responding to the query, your DNS server will be bombarded with three queries every 15 minutes.
Well, it is not only the bare NetBIOS you'll be working with, but applications. The same here. As I decided to move all of the data and most of the applications over to the server, a completely new installation had to be done. Not everything went as smooth as I wished... (sounds like everyday computer life, doesn't it?)
Win95 and IME97 (I'm installing the Japanese version) went smoothly. No wonder, they were installed to the local disk. Also the printer driver for my Epson PM-700C was kept locally and posed no problems.
Next I assigned a couple of network resources to local drive letters. One of the drives is mapped to the Unix home directory of the person logged in. This way everyone logging in to the Win95 machine who has a valid home directory on the Unix server, can use the same drive letter for personal data. If I log in, I get my files under that drive letter, when my wife logs in she gets her files and so on.
Other drive letters were assigned for binaries, common data, etc. and a couple of drive letters I mapped to the CD-ROM changer connected to the Unix server. This lets me search Byte-on-CD from any connected computer without a CD-ROM drive on each machine and without exchanging CD's. The same for the national railway timetable or the national phonebook.
One application I installed from a networked CD was Compton's Encyclopedia. As I don't like the user interface (I prefer clearly divided areas without lots of ornaments spilled all over the screen), I hardly ever use it, but there was space for it in the CD changer. It installed just fine. Trying to run it, I was told that the CD could not be found or that I needed a network edition. A little late, though, this information. Obviously this software actually has some code to check from what type of media it is advised to read data. If it is a network drive, it will refuse to work. With the same installation, but the CD in a locally installed CD drive, it works just fine.
Microsoft Bookshelf 98 (much better interface than Compton's, if I may say so) works fine over the network. So some of the software you use, may not work over a network unless you specifically buy the network edition.
Some Windows software writes INI files to all corners of your local harddrive without your knowledge. Most of them will not, or at least not correctly run if they can't find their beloved INI files. Installing to a network on one computer and running the programs is no problem. The trouble starts only when you install a second computer and would like to run the software already installed on the server. As you don't have the necessary INI files on your local harddrive, or the settings in win.ini are missing, nothing goes, or at least not the way it should. This can be "fixed" by reinstalling the software on the new computer. However you don't want to overwrite the "master-installation" on the server with all the configuration already done, do you? In such a case you can temporarily rename the target directory on the server, while installing to the same, not renamed (fake) target directory from the new client. This installation will write the necessary INI and DLL files to your local harddrive. Once the installation is done, delete the newly created fake master directory and move the old one back in place: Your original installation is not overwritten and your client gets its INI files; everyone is happy...unless the application still does not run from the second computer. If this happens, you'd better check the owner and mode of the installed files on the Unix machine; if one user installed some software it may well be that the necessary Unix execution rights are not being set for the other users.
With my Ricoh DC-2L digital camera, which I bought when I still lived in Japan, I got the accompanying software DU-2. It is a Japanese Win16 application and I have installed it on 8 MB Win31 machines before. However, running the setup script from Win95 with 32 MB of RAM, it invariably reported insufficient memory. Finally, the trick was to start the setup script from a DOS prompt, rather than from the GUI. Bad programming?
As some of the other programs I use digital pictures with are installed on the US Win95 system, I also needed to install DU-2 there. Simply creating a shortcut to the version installed on the server did not work. When starting, the software would complain that it could not find all components. The move-dir-and-install-trick did not work either, unfortunately; the software refuses to be installed under US Win95. Finally I ended up copying four or five DLLs under \windows\system\ from the Japanese installation over to the US system. As both versions are on the same machine, but on different removable disks, the network came in quite handy; copy the needed files to a network drive and get it down from there again. Sure much more comfortable and faster than using floppies.
Surely not all applications are equally well suited to be run or started over a network, no matter how much NC3 and NetPCs are being promoted. The Japanese (and US) version of Acrobat Reader 3.0 is a contender for this do-not-want-to-start-over-the-net-group. On a normal 10 MBit Ethernet network, you can almost pour yourself a cup of tea during the time it takes to load and start Acrobat Reader 3.0 over the network.
The same goes for Netscape Navigator 3.0; running it over the net already greets you with WWW (Wait Wait Wait) experience at startup. Starting Netscape Communicator with a dozen plugins you probably can go and have supper before browsing...
Other members of this category are certain imaging packages. Picture, sound, and video files tend to be huge. DU-2, the software that came with my digital camera, reads all pictures in a directory before it is ready. Better copy all data files to a temporary local directory before starting unless you can charge by the hour.
The Japanese version of Eudora Pro v2.0.1 was installed on the network too. Everything seemed fine, the only problem was, that mail could neither be retrieved, nor sent. Everything else was just fine. Even comparing to the old installation showed that everything must be fine. It took quite some time to find out what the trouble was. The Japanese version of Eudora Pro creates mailbox files for IN and OUT with Japanese filenames. Even though some Japanese filenames work well (for example in Wordpad), this was not the case with Eudora Pro v2.0.1. Once the installation was changed to get the IN and OUT files a place on the local file system, the problem disappeared.
HP Scanjet 5p
The software included with the German version of HP's Scanjet 5p is a programming disaster. I wish I could have gotten hold of an US version (would have preferred the US OCR engine anyway). First of all (this has not yet anything to do with networks or NetBIOS, though), the scanning software can not be installed when the manufacturer supplied SCSI device driver for my AHA-2940AU card is loaded. It just won't work and it took hours to find out. Once the scanning software is installed, you need to delete the SCSI board from your hardware configuration (you're advised to only remove devices entries in safe mode) and reboot. Then you can install the proper Adaptec device driver and after that the device driver for the scanner.
Paperport, which is part of the scanner software and can be used to scan, print, process and store documents, is usable, but unfortunately not stable. Having Faxsav installed, dropping a scanned document onto the Faxsav icon on the Paperport desktop, will invariably result in a fatal error. Paperport can't be started any more till the machine is rebooted.
Another annoyance of Paperport is that it tries to read the maxopts.ini file before any network resources are connected. This INI file is by default in a subdirectory of the directory where scanned documents are being kept. However, as I choose to have the document files on a network drive, Paperport would give an error at each boot, because it could not access the maxopts.ini file. Copying this INI file to the local file system and adapting win.ini accordingly, finally took care of the error during boot.
Installing software is not always an easy job, installing it for use over a TCP/IP NetBIOS network adds a few more pitfalls.
It took some time to get everything set up this way, but I can already see how this setup is saving me time and hardware costs. Besides it is always exciting to try out new things, broaden ones horizon.
The samba tale is over here, but expect to see more of my CompAds (Computer Adventures) from time to time. It is not that I'd have nothing to write about, but much more that I'm always struggling to find time to write. From the happenings of the last three and the next week, which are you most interested in to hear about, let me know:
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