Samba4 Directory Services Implementation

Samba 4.0 brings into focus Active Directory, which serves as a domain controller, provides DNS services, manages authentication, and administers identity policies. Of course, it also allows UNIX and Linux machines to communicate with Microsoft networks.


In Samba4, Windbind provides a unified login experiences across UNIX, Linux, and Windows systems regardless of where the domain credentials were generated. Windbind is a default program that comes bundled with Samba 4.0.

However, depending on the nature of your business and the needs of your employees, the default functionality of Windbind might not be the best solution, especially in a Windows/Linux Hybrid environment.

In this case, it might be preferred to let LDAP manage this task. With LDAP, we can create a single account and password for users on both systems across a single domain. This is done without joining Linux machines to the domain.

Features of Samba 4.0

The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) project unites integration with LDAP for authentication and other services.

LDAP is a robust, commercial grade, and open source suite of applications and development tools overseen by a community of software developers worldwide.

The benefit of LDAP is that a business or organization can consolidate information into a central database. Instead of managing user lists for each group or individuals in an organization, LDAP allows users to access this central directory from anywhere on the network.

Moreover, LDAP supports important security features like Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) as well as Transport Layer Security (TLS), so organizations can provide a greater level of security and authentication across all machines and for every user.

Similarly, Samba 4.0 features Central Identity Store, so when a user ID (UID) or group account information (GID) is stored in an LDAP directory, that UID and GID will be the same across every server.

Plus, FreeRADIUS, the world’s most popular open source server, supports Samba as well as all common authentication protocols.

FreeRADIOUS delivers authentication across port-based access control. In other words, a user can connect to the network only when and if his credentials have been validated by the authentication sever. The RADIUS server checks on the domain controller to see if the UID and password are correct. When authenticated, the RADIUS server opens the port, and the user gets access to the network.

Samba 4 is a full replacement and upgrade to Samba 3. It’s taken developers more than 10 years to release version 4.0, during which time various directions were taken and emphasized as the open-source project grew.

Nonetheless, Samba has a robust support system, making it easier to circumvent and overcome challenges you or your company might face while implementing director services.

Despite these challenges, Samba4 provides important Active Directory functionality, better security features, and more compatibility with popular authentication controls like FreeRADIUS.

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