Communicating via "samba"

Getting my Mint Machine to share files over a network was a challenge. While major operating systems, such as Windows and Mac OS X, have sharing settings built right in, you have to spend a little extra time with your Mintbox to get it to talk with other computers.

In my case, I need for my MintMachine to talk with my ThinkPad T420. Files for a huge project (totaling around 40GB large) will be stored on the MintMachine, which will act as a server, while I can use Windows and Mac OS X programs to edit the files and store the outputed files back on the MintMachine. Since Windows is not based on Unix, it can be a little difficult to get them communicating with each other.

First, you must install two pieces of software from the software manager. The first piece is samba itself. Samba, however, may already be installed on your system depending on your installation type of Mint. Samba will allow Mint to communicate with Microsoft Windows, who has other communication protocols. We will need to also install another package which will allow us to work with Samba in a GUI; otherwise, you'll need to work with Samba via the command line.

(The instructions below are for Linux Mint Rebecca. The instructions for your system may vary depending on the version and distribution of Linux you are using.)

How to Configure samba

Before we can configure samba, we must install it and another package. In order to do this, we will open our software manager. (In the start menu, there are two places where you can find the software manager. The easiest is on the left sidebar, but you can also find it under the "Administration" tab in the menu. Refer to the image below.) You will then be prompted for your administrator password. Once you provide your password, the main screen of the software manager will be displayed.

Software Manager location in Start Menu

Once the software manager is opened, type the phrase "samba" into the search bar. Press enter. Many results will be found, however, we only want two. We want the samba and system-config-samba packages. If they have a green checkmark by the icon, you already have it installed.

Samba Results

However, you may further check to see if it installed by clicking on the package name. If it is not already installed, this is where you will install the package. Instead of saying "Installed", it will give you the option to install the package.

Samba Installed

Once both packages have installed properly, you can open the samba menu by going to the Start menu and finding Samba under the Administration tab in the start menu.

Samba's Location in the Start Menu

Once you click on "Samba", you will be prompted for the administrator password. Once it is entered, you will see the Samba main screen, along with the shared folders currently present.

Samba Main Screen

Before we can share a folder, we must configure a user to assign the folder to. The user's credentials for our new user will be the credentials you provide Windows with later to connect to our server. To add a user, go to "Preferences" and "Users."

Samba Users List

To add a user, just simply press "Add User." You will then see another prompt open, asking for the username, password, and Linux username (the username you use to log in to Mint) of the new user. Once the user is properly configured, their username will show up in the screen above.

Samba Shares

We can now create a share. At the main screen, you can click on the "+" icon. This will create a prompt asking for the filepath to the folder you'd like to share. (You can click "Browse..." to tell Samba where to look for the folder.) You can also give the share a title and description. Be sure that Writable and Visible are both checked if you'd like to be able to write to your folder in Windows, and see the folder itself. Otherwise, your folder may be "invisible" to Windows, and/or it may be read-only.)

Before we can press "Ok", we must configure a user to this share. Click on the "Access" tab and select the user you configured earlier in the "Users" menu.

We can now exit out of Samba.

Windows Configuration

Configuring Windows to communicate with our newly-created server is simple.

Open a File Explorer window, and locate the "Network" link in the sidebar. Clicking on this will reveal your network printers, infrastructure (routers, etc.), your own computer, and our new server.

Windows Network Screen

Locate the new server (in my case, "MINTBOX".) Windows will prompt you for the credentials we entered into Samba earlier. Once these are provided, your shared folders will appear on the screen. You can now read and write (depending on how you configured that share in Samba) to that folder... remotely in Windows.

For Windows XP (and earlier?)

The process is similar in Windows XP, but I go a little more in detail on the Windows side of things here.

Unlike in later versions of Windows, it can be a little "trickier" to find the network button if you're not familiar with XP. It is on the left-hand sidebar, but isn't in a dedicated "sidebar window" as Windows uses today. It's under "Other Places", and is labeled "My Network Places."

WinXP: Step 1

Here is where it may become confusing. Instead of not being able to see the files until AFTER you login, you can actually view your "shares" or folders before you login. However, you can't view files within that share until after you login. When you click on a share, Windows will prompt you for your login credentials.

WinXP: 2 Login

Once you've entered your login credentials, click OK. If they were correct, you're logged into your server and will be able to view your files. You only have to do this process once; once you are logged in, you are able to access other shares, as long as the user you're logged in as has access to those shares and they are located on that server.

...On a Mac...

On a Macintosh, the process is very similar. Under macOS 10.12 "Sierra", we can perform the steps in a Finder window.

In the Finder window, go to the Computer view. (Go > Computer). This will show all discs connected to your Mac, including a link to the "Network" which your Mac is connected to.


After selecting the Network option, you will be presented to all of the computers connected to your network. Since "mintbox" is the server we want to connect to, we'll double click on "mintbox."

Mac 2

You will then be presented with a login screen. You will need to enter the correct credentials in order to access the server. If you want your Mac to remember the password, you can tell it to save the password to your Keychain.

Mac 3

And viola! You now have access to your server. If you want to disconnect from the server, you can either click "Disconnect" or press the "eject" button in the sidebar, much like you would if you was wanting to unmount a disc or eject a removable drive/optical disc.

Mac 4

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Last updated 12/24/2016 ; T420 (originally created 10/29/2016)