Setting Up Samba on Raspberry Pi

2 minute read

After setting up my rPi TorrentBox, I wanted to let my family access the downloaded files.
Since they use Windows (and I don’t want to bother their systems with NFS), I wanted to install Samba on the rPi and create a read-only share (and a weak user for them to access the share with).
I found a lot of guides for setting up Samba, but every one was missing something, so I documented my own procedure:

1. Plan Configuration

Answer these questions before you start:

  • Shares:
    • Are you going to use authentication or guest access? (hint: authentication is better)
    • Is the share read-only?
    • What is the share name? (best to keep it in lower-case)
    • What is the physical path the share is pointing to? Is it always mounted or on a removable drive?
  • Users / authentication:
    • Do you need to change the workgroup’s name?
    • Do you need to disable password encryption (VERY old clients)?
    • How many different remote-access users will be required? How are they called? 
    • Do some users already exist as UNIX users?

It’s much easier working with a clear understanding of the desired configuration.

2. Prepare Access User

Create the linux user you want to use (in my case “theothers”). You can use this command:

adduser --shell /bin/false --no-create-home

Note that:

  • Shell is set to /bin/false to help prevent the user from actually logging in
  • No home directory is created, because the user isn’t supposed to login anyway

3. Prepare Permissions

Make sure the access user can’t do too much damage, because it might be abused. I limited its permissions to read (since I don’t want my family messing about the directory anyway).
I won’t go into the POSIX permissions model, but the best way to test the user’s permissions is to impersonate that user using

sudo su -s /bin/bash theothers

Note that the terminal prompt changes to show the impersonated user, like “theothers@bestrpi”. Try and test everything:

  • touch: Creating files
  • mkdir: Creating directories
  • ls: Listing directories
  • tail: Reading files

Use exit when finished to return to your own user

4. Install Samba

As always, you should update & upgrade before:

sudo apt-get update ; sudo apt-get upgrade

The installation couldn’t be simpler:

sudo apt-get install samba

5. Create User Mapping

Assuming you’re using the default authentication method (you should!), any user accessing Samba should be imported to the Samba user database.
Use this command to add the user. I’m not sure about password synchronization, so I just gave it the same password as the “real” user.

sudo pdbedit -a -u theothers

6. Edit Configuration File

This is the hardest part. I’d back up the configuration file to somewhere safe and start fresh.
Refer to this site and this one for how the configuration file should look like.
After modifying the configuration, restart the Samba service to apply:

sudo service samba restart

You can test your shares from gnome, using “connect to server” and using the “smb” initial

7. Apply to Clients

Make sure everything works. I find it best to restart all involved machines and testing again, to make sure all settings are persistent.
When accessing the shares from Windows, I find it best to use network drives. Check “reconnect at sign-in” to make the drive “permanent” and check “Connect using different credentials”.

(photo from techynotes)

Use the workgroup from the Samba configuration as a domain, e..g WORKGROUP\theothers.

Enjoy your Samba server!