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The case for using Samba as a Windows NT 4.0 PDC Server

What are the advantages of using Samba as a Windows NT 4.0 Primary Domain Controller (PDC) Server?

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The major benefits of Samba are stability, scalability, reliability, freedom from licensing fees; and a shorter time between problem identification and resolution.

With use of Samba as a Domain Controller the administrator can chose what authentication back-end he wants to use. That back-end can be:

  • The Unix/Linux system password database (not viable option);
  • An SMB password database (can be replicated using rsync);
  • A binary TDB SAM (new to Samba 3.0.0 and due out soon);
  • An LDAP back-end;
  • Winbind (which can use ANY CIFS server running domain control as the authentication database); and,
  • An SQL based database (using MySQL and new to Samba 3.0.0).
    This greater choice of authentication back-end means that even sites that have very poor wide area connectivity can still enjoy the benefits of centrally-managed authentication and control.

    Not directly related to the question are some other features that make Samba 3.0.0 a VERY attractive facility:

  • Network Share based Recycle Bin (through a VFS module);
  • Extensive Auditing (through a VFS module); and
  • Virus Scanning (VFS module)
    Samba today is largely a Windows NT 4-style domain controller that has the ability to grow with your needs. The use of LDAP as the authentication back-end lends to Samba a high degree of flexibility and manageability.

    This was first published in February 2003

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