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October 25, 2002

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Linux for Windows Users:

Using LinNeighborhood to Create a Network Neighborhood for Linux

Mike Angelo -- 25 October 2002 (C) -- Page 2

How to Do It (continued)

Viewing Remote Shares with LinNeighborhood

When LinNeighborhood opens, it will display the domain name of your local Linux-based computer and the names of any workgroups it finds on your LAN. In Figure 3, Wuzel is the local Linux-box domain name and HERZ-ASS is the name of a computer workgroup on the LAN.

Double-Clicking on a workgroup results in a list of all the computers in that workgroup. In Figure 3, the DENISE item is the (only) computer in the HERZ-ASS workgroup.

Then double-click a remote-computer icon to bring up the list of shared resources on that computer. In Figure 3, the list of folders and devices under the DENISE computer entry is the list of shared resources available on the DENISE computer.

If no list of shared resources pops up, that might indicate that you need a logon and password to access the shares on that computer. That usually is the case if the remote computer is another Linux box or a Windows NT/2K machine. In such an instance, alternate-click on the remote computer's icon in the LinNeighborhood window. Then click on scan as user. That should bring up a logon/password dialog box.

Figure 3. Screen shot of LinNeighborhood. (Source: LinNeighborhood Web site. Links in the Resources section on Page 3.)

Accounts on Remote Computers

However, in order for that to work, you will need to have an account on the remote computer for which you want to gain share access. In order to do that for a Linux-based computer, Samba must be running on that box and the root user (system administrator) for each such Linux box will have to add you as a Samba user on that box.

If Samba is running on a remote Linux-based computer, that's pretty simple. All the root user needs to do is to type smbpasswd -a your-user-name at a root prompt on his/her Linux machine.

Whenever you mount a share from that remote Linux box on your Linux computer, LinNeighborhood will pop open a dialog box that in part asks for your user name and password. Just enter the user name and password that were used for your Samba account on that other Linux computer. Please see Figure 4.

Figure 4. LinNeighborhood Mount Dialog Panel.

If the remote computer is a Windows 2000 box it's pretty simple also. There the system administrator can add you as a user. He/She can do that by clicking on Start > Settings > Control Panel > Users and Passwords > Add and then completing the dialogs.

Tip: Please keep in mind that computer names and usernames/logons are two different things. LinNeighborhood lists a computer name in its window. However, the username/logon that you need to plug into the pop-up dialog boxes is the username or logon that you use to log onto that computer -- not the name of the computer. If you ever find yourself having trouble logging on to remote machines or shares, make sure that you are not confusing machine names and user names.

Whenever you mount a share from that Windows box on your Linux computer, LinNeighborhood will pop open a dialog box that in part asks for your user name and password. Just enter the user name and password that were used for your account on that remote Windows-based computer. (The logon-password procedure can vary depending upon which of the several Windows flavors and Windows logons is involved.)

Now you are all set to start adding shares to the Network Neighborhood folder on your Linux box.

Adding Your Windows-Box Shares to Your Linux Network Neighborhood

Double-click on a remote share listed in the LinNeighborhood window that you wish to mount. That pops-up the Mount Dialog box (Figure 4). LinNeighborhood has the Mount Dialog box filled-in for you. However, there are a few changes you might wish to make.

The first text-input box in the Mount Dialog box, Service, shows the path on the remote computer to the share you wish to mount. No need to change that one.

The second text-input box in the Mount Dialog box, Mount Point, shows the path on your local Linux machine to the directory in which you will mount the share on your local Linux computer. The original default is a mnt directory in your Home Directory, /home/username/mnt/ .

However, you want all the remote shares to appear in the Network Neighborhood folder you created earlier on your local, Linux computer. To do that, simply change the /mnt part of the MountPoint text-input string to /Network Neighborhood .

Of course, if you like you can use the default /home/username/mnt/ folder rather than a /home/username/Network Neighborhood/ folder to mount your remote compute shares. Your choice.

Next, add the name of the remote-computer folder you added to your local Network Neighborhood directory to accommodate the share from the remote computer that you are mounting. In our general example above that would be WindowsBox 1. So now, the general form of the Mount Point entry should look something like this: /home/username/Network Neighborhood/WindowsBox 1/sharename/, if the share is a folder on the remote computer.

Translating that general example to the way it is in Figure 1, the Mount Point entry is changed from the default /home/username/mnt/ string to /home/drake/Network Neighborhood/PLM/MyData/.

Looking at Figure 4, the Mount Point entry is changed from the default /home/username/mnt/ string to /home/drake/Network Neighborhood/HEW/MyData/. That's because in Figure 1, the computer named PLM is involved and in Figure 4, the computer named HEW is involved. The idea in this metaphor is to keep the remote shares listed under the computers on which they actually are located.

(Tech Tip: Here's a tip about the SMB User and SMB Password text-input boxes. Suppose you use the same user name and password for your Samba account on a remote Linux-based box, or for your user account on a Windows-based box, that you use for your account on your local Linux computer. Then, LinNeighborhood uses that user name and password as the default for the SMB User and SMB Password text-input boxes of the Mount Dialog box. That trick has a certain simplicity to it.

However, you improve your security by using different user names and passwords for different accounts because a cracker has to crack your user name and password all over again for each account. So this is one trick that is better to pass up.)

Note: That is the nice and smooth way this works with Mandrake 9.0. It might not be so smooth with SuSE 8.1 or Red Hat 8.0. You might find yourself getting an error message that you need to have smbclient installed or that you might need to set the smbclient mode to +s or to suid.

If that happens, simply click on OK in the Mount as Root area of the Mount Dialog box, then type in the root password, and then click Mount. That should mount the share for you with SuSE 8.1. This trick did not exactly work with Red Hat 8.0.

If you have to mount the share as root, you also will have to un-mount it as root. In order to make that easy, su to root by typing su - at a terminal window prompt, change the directory to whatever directory the samba-client and smbmount files are located. Then at the root prompt type chmod +s smbumount. In SuSE 8.1 you can go to the /usr/bin directory to do this.

Tip: Once you have gone through the above procedure to set up (mount or map) your first share mount, try using the list box that drops down when you click on the down-arrow to the right of the LinNeighborhood Mount Point text-input box. You can use this list box to navigate to the folder in your Network Neighborhood directory-tree structure in which you want to mount the remote share.

If you did not need to supply a logon name and password to see the shares list on the remote computer, it is likely you do not need to worry about the SMB User and SMB Password text-input boxes here. However, if you did need to supply a logon name and password to see the shares list on the remote computer, then you need to enter that same logon (user) name and password in the SMB User and SMB Password text-input boxes here.

When you have finished tweaking the Mount Dialog box, just click on the Mount button at the bottom of the Mount Dialog box. TaDaa!

You now should see the path to your locally mounted remote share on the same line that lists that share in the LinNeigborhood window. Please see the samba 2.0.4 share line in Figure 3.

Now open your Konqueror file manager to your Home Directory. Look in the Network Neighborhood folder. If everything worked right, you should see the remote share mounted in the /home/username/Network Neighborhood/Remote-Computer-Name/ folder. (/home/drake/Network Neighborhood/PLM/MyData/ in the Figure 1 example.)

Moreover, you should have full access to that share. If the owner of that share has opened it for read and write sharing, that means you should have full, read and write, access to that share.

To mount (or map) more remote shares in your Network Neighborhood folder, simply repeat the above process. The more you repeat the process, the easier it becomes -- and you can do it faster too.

Using Your Network Neighborhood

After you have mounted the remote shares in your Linux-box Network Neighborhood folder, accessing them is pretty much the same as accessing them with the MS Windows Network Neighborhood on a Windows-based computer. It also now pretty much is the same as working with directories, files, and other devices in the Konqueror file manager.

Unfortunately, using Samba on a Linux box for accessing remote shares is not as smooth as sharing resources on an MS Windows network. One ramification of this is that it is not a good idea to mount remote shares that you do not use. Another is that it is important to make sure that you un-mount shares from other computers before those computers are shut down.

If you try to access a mounted remote share on a computer that has been shut down, it likely will hang up your file manager. That's the worst case we have experienced. However, we have heard of that locking-up boxes in some instances.

A nice feature of LinNeighborhood is that it let's you see what shares currently are mounted -- thus making share-mount management a piece of cake. You can look in the main LinNeighborhood pane or in the smaller pane at the bottom of the LinNeighborhood screen, which lists all the currently mounted shares. Please see Figure 4.

As you now realize, you have to mount each remote share one-by-one with Linux. Microsoft's Network Neighborhood locates all the shares on the Microsoft Network and automatically makes them available via the Network Neighborhood.

Making It Easier

You can make working with remote shares easier if you arrange the file structure on the remote computers to do so. Of course you have to own or control those remote computers in order to do that or enlist the cooperation of those who do.

Generally, people use remote access to shares on other computers in order to work with data files. So, create a MyData folder on the remote computer and put all the data that you want to share in that MyData folder and sub-folders. For example, you could have a set of MyData sub-folders such as Documents, Spreadsheets, Finances, MPEGs, Photos, Programs, Presentations, Graphics, and so forth. In the Figure 1 example, an Internet subfolder and a Music subfolder have been added to the MyData share folder on the computer named PLM.

If you organize your networked computers this way, you only have to mount one remote share for each remote computer that has data you would like to access from your local, Linux-based computer. When you mount the MyData share of a remote computer, all the files and subfolders within the MyData share are mounted too.

Of course this applies primarily to a peer-to-peer networking environment. If you are dealing with a pure server-client network environment you likely would not need to deal with the issues discussed in this article.

Copyright 2000 - 2002 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved
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