Samba domain controller in a heterogeneous environment

Shake a Leg

Text or Registry

A Samba server usually stores its configuration in the /etc/samba/smb.conf text file, making it difficult for a Windows administrator to configure Samba services. Alternatively, the service can save all or part of its configuration in a registry. This function is often used in Samba clusters. For example, in the domain setup described here, this means that an administrator can customize the Samba configuration of a Linux server with the registry editor while working on a Windows workstation. To put the complete configuration of a Samba server into the registry, you need an /etc/samba/smb.conf with exactly two lines:

config backend = registry

In this case, Samba ignores the complete content of the smb.conf file and reads the information from the registry only. In many cases, this method is too strict, which is why you have two other options:

include = registry
registry shares = yes

The first option evaluates the complete smb.conf file plus the registry entries, and the second option only reads information about shares from the registry. Therefore, you can only change the shares, but not the basic server configuration in the registry.

Samba does not evaluate all the share information at startup time. Only when a client wants to access a share does Samba look for the associated information in the registry. Samba saves all its keys in HKLM/Software/Samba/smbconf. Given sufficient rights, you can edit the registry with regedit over the LAN or with the Linux samba-regedit CLI tool in a legacy GTK design. If you want to work with a registry, you can transfer an existing smb.conf to the registry with net conf import.


On small and medium-sized networks with heterogeneous systems, a Samba domain controller performs well and ensures a smooth exchange of files between the various client systems. In this article, I looked at as many solutions as possible for different distributions. Of course, the whole thing works on a Mac, on Windows, and on Linux, even though I did not go into the details of setting up an AD connection for a macOS client here.

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