Samba Standalone Server Installation on Debian 9 (Stretch)

This tutorial explains the installation of a Samba fileserver on Debian 9 (Stretch) and how to configure it to share files over the SMB protocol as well as how to add users. Samba is configured as a standalone server, not as a domain controller. In the resulting setup, every user has his own home directory accessible via the SMB protocol and all users have a shared directory with read-/write access.

1 Preliminary Note

I'm using a Debian 9 system here with the hostname and the IP address I'll use this minimal Debian system as basis for this tutorial:

I will use the nano editor in this tutorial to edit config files on the shell. Nano can be installed with the command:

apt-get install nano

If you have a different favorite shell editor like joe or vi, then use that instead.

To make the Linux server accessible by name from my Windows workstation, I will add a line to the hosts file on Windows. Run this command as Administrator user on Windows to edit the hosts file:

notepad C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts

and add a line like this:	debian

at the end of the file. Replace the IP address with the server IP and the hostname with the hostname that you have chosen for your server.

Rename 'administrator' user, if exists

My Debian 9 server has a user named "administrator", this username may cause problems with Samba, so I rename it to 'howtoforge' here. Feel free to use a different name for your user, the name does not matter as long as it is not 'administrator'. Skip this step when your system has no user with the name 'administrator'.

usermod -l howtoforge -m -d /home/howtoforge administrator
groupmod -n howtoforge administrator

2 Installing Samba

Connect to your server on the shell as root user and install the Samba packages:

apt-get -y install libcups2 samba samba-common cups

Move the current smb.conf file to smb.conf.bak:

mv /etc/samba/smb.conf /etc/samba/smb.conf.bak

And then create a new file smb.conf file:

nano /etc/samba/smb.conf

With the following content:

workgroup = WORKGROUP
server string = Samba Server %v
netbios name = debian
security = user
map to guest = bad user
dns proxy = no

Replace WORKGROUP with the workgroup name that is used on your Windows clients. If you don't know the name of the workgroup, run this command on the Windows client to get the workgroup name:

net config workstation

Then close the Samba configuration file on the server and restart Samba:

systemctl restart smbd.service

3 Adding Samba Shares

Now I will add a share that is accessible by all users.

Create the directory for sharing the files and change the group to the users group:

mkdir -p /home/shares/allusers
chown -R root:users /home/shares/allusers/
chmod -R ug+rwx,o+rx-w /home/shares/allusers/
mkdir -p /home/shares/anonymous
chown -R root:users /home/shares/anonymous/
chmod -R ug+rwx,o+rx-w /home/shares/anonymous/

At the end of the file /etc/samba/smb.conf add the following lines:

nano /etc/samba/smb.conf

3.1 Group share

This is a share that is accessible and writable for all members of our "users" group. Add the following config at the end of the smb.conf file.

  comment = All Users
  path = /home/shares/allusers
  valid users = @users
  force group = users
  create mask = 0660
  directory mask = 0771
  writable = yes

3.2 Home directories

If you want all users to be able to read and write to their home directories via Samba, add the following lines to /etc/samba/smb.conf (make sure you comment out or remove the existing [homes] section):

   comment = Home Directories
   browseable = no
   valid users = %S
   writable = yes
   create mask = 0700
   directory mask = 0700

3.3 Anonymous share

You like to have a share were all users in your network can write to? Be careful, this share is open to anyone in the network, so use this only in local networks. Add an anonymous share like this:

   path = /home/shares/anonymous
   force group = users
create mask = 0660
directory mask = 0771
browsable =yes writable = yes guest ok = yes

Now we restart Samba:

systemctl restart smbd.service

4 Adding and Managing Users

In this example, I will add a user named tom. You can add as many users as you need, in the same way, just replace the username tom with the desired username in the commands.

useradd tom -m -G users

Set a password for tom in the Linux system user database. If the user tom should not be able to log into the Linux system, skip this step.

passwd tom

-> Enter the password for the new user.

Now add the user to the Samba user database:

smbpasswd -a tom

-> Enter the password for the new user.

Now you should be able to log in from your Windows workstation with the file explorer (address is \\ or \\\tom for tom's home directory) using the username tom and the chosen password and store files on the Linux server either in tom's home directory or in the public shared directory.

5 Accessing Samba from Windows

Now you can access the samba shares from your Windows Desktop. Open the command prompt and enter "\\debian" to open a file explorer:

Login to the SAMBA share from Windows

That shows the shares of our samba server.

SAMBA Shares in Windows File Explorer

6 Virtual Machine Image Download of this Tutorial

This tutorial is available as ready to use virtual machine image in ovf/ova format that is compatible with VMWare and Virtualbox. The virtual machine image uses the following login details:

SSH / Shell Login

Username: howtoforge
Password: howtoforge

Username: root
Password: howtoforge

Samba Example User Login

Username: tom
Password: howtoforge

The IP of the VM is, it can be changed in the file /etc/network/interfaces. Please change all the above passwords to secure the virtual machine.

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6 Comment(s)

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By: thctlo

Nice, simpel and clean, but one suggestion, change the subject to :Samba "Standalone" server. 

By: Paul


thanks for tutorial, its, nice.

but i dont how do I change settings with 2 lan conection and server as a domain controller? ;)



By: rkbry

This part confuses me:

At the end of the file /etc/samba/smb.conf add the following lines:

nano /etc/samba/smb.conf

By: m0ntassar

it is not necessary to install cups and libcups unless you are going to share printers

By: GalacticPrez

1 — In Home Directories, why is “browsable = no”? Is that because this is referring to anyone but the owner of the directory logged in?

2 — Where you talk about adding a user BUT not adding a password if you don’t want them to be able to login to the Linux machine as an actual user, does this change the next instruction ”smbpasswd -a tom”, or does that stay the same whether a password is set or not? ( it’s just confusing where the actual command appears to suggest a password involved in the process, given the name of the command “smbpasswd” ...

3 — is cups installed alongside samba because the printer sharing uses ( dependencies ) from samba?

By: Rainer

Thx - best easy ;-)