Jason Deraleau


Revision History
Revision 207 November 2001jld - [email protected]
Ported HOWTO to XML.
Revision 105 November 2001jld - [email protected]


The purpose of this HOWTO is to introduce the concepts involved with using the SMB protocol in Mac OS X. It is not intended to be the final word on the topic, but is presented to the user in order to get a jump start on learning the intricacies of implementing SMB in a mixed computing environment. For further reading, I highly suggest O'Reilly and Associates' Using Samba for an extensive look at the SMB protocol.

Table of Contents

What is SMB?
Why do I need SMB?
Using SMB on OS X
Using the Finder
Using the Terminal and mount
Using the .nsmbrc File
Serving SMB on OS X
What is Samba?
Getting Samba
Installing Samba
Configuring Samba
Accessing Samba


This document is intended for Mac OS X users who are looking to integrate their Apple into a heterogeneous network. This introduction will get you started with the terms and ideas you'll need to understand in order to get up and running.

What is SMB?

Simply put, SMB is a protocol. If you're note quite sure what a protocol is, think of it as a language that computers use to communicate. SMB stands for Server Message Block. It's a lightweight protocol designed to allow the sharing of files and printers in a small network. At this point, SMB is being renamed to CIFS, or Common Internet File System. These days, those abbreviations are pretty much interchangable.

Why do I need SMB?

I would hope by now that the need for SMB has presented itself. The ability to share files across many different platforms is a huge benefit for those of us running mixed networks. Gone are the problems of getting a file from a Windows machine onto your Mac, or vice-versa. No more messing around with translation software. Now it's all done in the background for you.


Some words that you'll want to be familiar with:

  • share: A share is any filesystem or printer available to a system.

  • netbios name: The NetBIOS name is the name machines will refer to your system by while using SMB.

  • resource: A resource is really the same as a share.

  • workgroup: A workgroup is a group of computers with a similar task or location.