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May 1, 2003

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Linux for Windows Users:

Linux Networking for Windows and Desktop People -- Mandrake 9.1 and LinNeighborhood

Mike Angelo -- 1 May 2003 (C) -- Page 2

I would myself never use samba to mount remote Linux shares. I would export the file system with NFS and then mount it with NFS on my client. I find SAMBA a bit tricky sometimes, and NFS more straightforward. SAMBA is good when you _must_ interact with Windows. And samba supports printer sharing as well. Richard Torkar, Open Source developer and Ph.D. student.

Reverse Access

The next tweak is needed to let the other computers on your LAN see the shares on your new Mandrake 9.1 installation computer. Just what you need to do here depends on (a) what operating systems are running on the other computers on your LAN, and (b) how the user-accounts on those machines are configured.

  • Security Issues

An important underlying principle here is that you want to maintain system security. If you are not careful, and you have an open connection to the Internet, you could wind up giving the entire Internet-world access to your computer. Restricting access to shares on your Mandrake Linux 9.1 box can help maintain system security.

One way to do this is to allow only people with user and Samba accounts on your Mandrake 9.1 computer to access shares on that computer. Thus, setting up user and Samba accounts for specific people on other machines to gain access to shares on your Mandrake Linux 9.1 box can help maintain system security.

You also can restrict the hosts (remote computers) that are allowed to gain access to your computer. Additionally, Mandrake 9.1 includes software firewall protections that you can enable if you wish. However, these topics are beyond the scope of today's article so they will not be discussed here.

Another important weapon in your system-security arsenal can be a hardware firewall/router. A hardware firewall/router is especially important if you are connected to the Internet via a broadband connection such as cable, DSL, ISDN, and so forth.

An example of a hardware firewall/router is the D-Link, DI-604, 4-Port, Ethernet Broadband Router It can be used with Linux-based, Mac-based, and MS Windows-based computers. Simply put, such a firewalled-router stops most types of attempts to crack or hack your networked computers that come from the Internet -- before those attempts ever get to the computers on your LAN. The MSRP is $50. (Link in the Resources section at the end of this article.)

  • Adding user and Samba accounts for file sharing

It's likely there are users that you will want to let have access to shares on the Mandrake 9.1 machine from other (remote) computers on your LAN. These users on other machines need to have user and Samba accounts on your Mandrake 9.1 machine in order to access shares on the Mandrake 9.1 machine -- even though they might never directly log-on to your Mandrake 9.1 box.

Tricks to restrict remote log-on access

There are tricks that you can implement to restrict remote log-on access to your Linux-based computer. That's beyond the scope of this article. So in the meantime, only give user/Samba accounts to people you trust -- unless you know the tricks. In other words if you do not trust a person enough to give them an account on your Mandrake 9.1 box, do not give them Samba access to it -- for now.

However, one quick trick is to use a different password for the user account and the Samba account. Then give the samba user only the Samba password. That way the user can gain share access via Samba, but cannot log-on to your computer as a user -- at least without cracking the user password.

Never log-in as root

You do not need to log-on as root to do root things. Matter of fact, you never should log in as root unless you absolutely have to do so. Rather, you should log-on as a regular user. Then go to a terminal and at the command prompt type su - . Mandrake then will ask you for the root password. If you enter the correct password, Mandrake will put that terminal window in root mode and present you with a root prompt. su stands for super-user. The system administrator or root is considered the super-user on a computer. So the su command puts you in super-user or root mode. The - is an important part/parameter of the su command. It puts you in a root login shell.

However, once you give these users accounts on your Mandrake 9.1 box, they could log-on to your Mandrake 9.1 computer as a user -- either directly or via a remote login service such as Telnet. So, only give user/Samba accounts to people you trust.

Of course, we are taking a more conservative approach to security here. You could take a more liberal approach to security if you like. Your choice.

To add a user to the Mandrake 9.1 box, open the Mandrake Control Center (MCC) on the Mandrake 9.1 computer. Then click on System > Users. That opens the Users and Groups window. Drop the Settings menu to toggle between the users and groups screens. Toggle to the View users screen and add the users.

Next toggle to the View groups screen. Then add each user on the Mandrake 9.1 box that you wish to be able to participate in file-sharing to the fileshares group on your Mandrake 9.1 box. Next add the users that will access your Mandrake Linux 9.1 shares from remote MS Windows boxes and other remote Linux boxes to the fileshares group too. After that, configure file-sharing on the Mandrake 9.1 box.

You also must add all the users that will have remote access to shared files on your Mandrake 9.1 box to the Samba users list. It's simple.

All the root user needs to do is to type smbpasswd -a user-name at a root prompt on your Mandrake 9.1 box. Do this for each remote user that will have access to shared files on your Mandrake 9.1 box.

  • Configuring and permitting file sharing

You must enable sharing for any folders on your Mandrake 9.1 box for which you want to open access from other computers on your LAN to allow sharing. To do this, right-click on a folder or shareable device in the Konqueror file manager. Then click on the Share tab. Then tick Shared.

The first time you try to set a directory for sharing, you will have to configure file-sharing. To do that, after you click on the Share tab in the properties pop-up box, click the Configure File Sharing button. You will need to have the root (system administrator) password in order to configure file sharing.

After you enter the root password, the fileshare box pops-up. Do NOT select Allow all users! Select only Custom. This is a security issue. Then click OK.

Next the diskdrake box will pop up asking if you want to Launch userdrake. Go ahead and click the Launch userdrake button.

However, you already have added the users to the users list and to the fileshares group. So, if userdrake does pop up, just exit it. For us, userdrake never pops up here. Since we already have added the users to the users list and to the fileshares group that is not a problem.

  • Access From a MS Windows box

Just how tricky it gets with MS Windows boxes depends on what Windows versions are involved. To keep things simple here is an easy way to handle things.

Figure 3. Windows Network Neighborhood. Here the Enitre Network folder is expanded showing a Linux computers workgroup (Md) and a Windows computers workgroup (Wo).
Simply add each Windows user that you wish to have share-access to the Mandrake 9.1 box to the user list and samba-user list for the Mandrake 9.1 box as discussed above.

Use the exact same user name (profile name) that is used to log onto MS Windows for the Mandrake 9.1 user name and Samba-name entries for each Windows user. Use the same password too.

If things work right, the Windows-box Network Neighborhood should be able to find the Mandrake 9.1 box and give you access to the shares on the Mandrake 9.1 box from the Windows box. You might have to provide a password if prompted to do so. Please see Figure 3.

  • See Viewing Remote Shares with LinNeighborhood on Page 3 ----->

  • Copyright 2000 - 2003 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved
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