Sharing With Windows The Ubuntu Noob Way

You are in a Local Area Network (LAN) at home. Your wife or girlfriend’s laptop has Windows running on it. How do you share files with her without using a USB flash disk or any other removable drive? Optical disks are so passe. No, bluetooth does not count and sharing large files that way would take forever because bluetooth is just too slow. Send the file through Skype? What if you had no Internet connection?

How do you even see the other computers on the local network? Windows and Linux aren’t really the best buddies when it comes to local file sharing. Thankfully, Linux is friendlier and has available tools to make sharing possible, and easy, with Windows.

This is how it is done the noob way.

1) Open Ubuntu Software Center and search for Samba (system-config-samba). On a default Ubuntu install, there should only be one with the exact match. Ignore all the others. See screenshot below.

Note: The Samba you are installing is only the graphical frontend. Don’t worry about the actual samba installation. It is already there by default if I’m not mistaken. Otherwise, this install will also pull the necessary files which most likely includes the samba server and dependencies.

2) Now that you have Samba installed, go on and run it. Find the app on Dash by typing ‘samba’. If you are using a version prior to Natty, then look for it from the traditional Gnome menu. The entry should be under System.

Once you have it running. Let us create a share. Go to File > Add Share. A dialog box will come out like the one below.

The Basic tab lets you add shares. Click on browse and select the folder that you would like to share. Don’t forget to type in a Share name. This will be the name that will be visible on LAN. Description is not very important and you can skip that part. Tick the Writable and Visible checkboxes. You want that shared folder to be seen on LAN and writable too.

Go to the Access tab – that is the one right beside Basic – then select Allow access to everyone.

3) Open Nautilus. Right-click on that folder that you selected for sharing in step #2. Click on the Share tab. Check the following options – Share this folder and Allow others to create and delete files in this folder.

4) Go back to Samba. This time go to Preferences > Server Settings.

Under Basic is where you have to set the workgroup name. In most cases WORKGROUP (or workgroup) should be fine as that is the default for most Windows installation. Otherwise, change it to whatever is the workgroup of the Windows machines within the local network.

Go to Security tab and change the Authenticaion Mode to Share. Leave the other options as you found them.

That’s it! You should be able to see other shares on the Windows network and they will be able to see your shared folders as well.

Don’t be surprised if you encounter some permission issues when writing from Windows to an Ubuntu share and vice-versa.  These are more like security measures on each of the respective OS in action. The settings can be adjusted accordingly. We’ll need to tweak the Samba configuration file for more fine-tuning. On Windows, well I’ll have to figure that one out. I’ll discuss all of these on another blog post. For now, let me just keep it short.

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Notice: This article was published on September 1, 2011 and the content above may be out of date.