Installing samba and activating rdesktop on Ubuntu 7.04

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I have two computers running on a local area network: a portable IBM T40 Thinkpad running ubuntu 7.04 and a desktop box running XP. I wanted each to have direct access to the disks located on the other. To accomplish this, I installed samba and related software on the portable. I also wanted to view the XP interface as a window in linux so I activated rdesktop on the portable. These notes describe the steps I took.

There are two steps involved with making the disks accessible: (1) installing samba and making the linux disk accessible on the XP box and (2) making the windows disk accessible on the linux box.

Useful web sites

To install and set up samba --

Letting XP desktop see ubuntu disks Letting ubuntu portable see XP disks

I found no websites particularly useful for activating rdesktop. My guess is that, as rdesktop is part of the 7.04 installation, activating is thought to be "obvious." Well, it almost is, but only to those who know what the terms mean when firing up the application package to do that.


Being a novice at doing these activities, I will put my notes here. They may prove useful for others and also for me in the future if I need to do this again. The two web pages above really are "almost" what I needed, but not quite, for installing samba. So my comments will only highlight the differences with what is on that page and what I had to do.

Samba can allow many interconnections - to see printers on either computer, to see the disks on either computer from the other, and so forth. My only goal was to make the disks visible.

Installing samba and making ubuntu disk visible to the XP computer

The first web site listed above tells one in detail exactly how to install samba and get it running so that the XP desktop can see the disks on the ubuntu portable. I followed its instructions and everything just worked - the first time.

It was later when playing around I had only one problem that took me a couple of hours to fix, and I still do not know why the problem occurs. So do what that page says, and then, if you have a problem, return here to see if it is the one I encountered and how I fixed it.

If you did all this right, you should have a drive on the XP box that is looking at a folder on your ubuntu computer as if it were a folder on XP.

I "had to" (curiosity) test that I knew what was going on so I disconnected the drive (right mouse button on MyComputer/Disconnect Network Drive and then selected the appropriate drive). When I attempted to reconnect it, I got an error message that indicated the connection failed because there was "no such group." Okay, what group were they talking about? A trip to google with the error message led me essentially nowhere. There is the Workgroup on the XP box, and there is the group associated with the setup information in the file /etc/samba/smb.conf. The last line reads "force group = YOUR_USERNAME". I had to alter this line to fix the problem. It is my understanding that, when one adds a new user to linux, the system creates a new user and a group with the same userID. So, if one's userID is tom, there is both a new user called tom and a new group called tom to which tom belongs.

I used a blank as the RHS of the force group statement. So my last two statements in this smb.conf file read

 force user = tom
 force group =

As soon I did this, the XP box quit complaining, and I saw my folder again. I hope there are no security problems associated with this change, but I can think of none at this time.

Making the XP disks visible to the ubuntu computer

The second web site is all about this problem. When I did what it said, everything just worked, and no subsequent problems have arisen.

Activating rdesktop

I wanted to have the XP display screen come up as a window on my ubuntu portable computer. I have had rdesktop installed (by someone else) on a desktop linux box running Fedora Core for some time. My goal was to make the same thing available for my portable. I searched the web for help on this and found virtually no help. Had I followed some of the advice, I would have been digging up an old rdesktop application and installing it. I had also found an application (Applications/Internet/Terminal Server Client) that looked like it would be appropriate while exploring my new 7.04 installation. The descriptive information said this application was an rdesktop and a vnc client, among other things. Wow, if true.

I decided that maybe there was nothing out there because this would be easy to do. So I decided to just "do it."

I stated that I was already running rdesktop to see my XP box display on my linux desktop. So my XP box is apparently all set for me. I am likely, therefore, not mentioning steps I should have taken on the XP box.

I filled in the blanks on this application in the following manner -

 Protocal: RDP
 User Name: tom

I left all the remaining inputs blank and hit Connect. It worked. Amazing. The only thing remaining was to examine the options available for this application and choose the ones I wanted.

If I had to conjecture what is required on the XP side, it would be setting up sharing for appropriate files (e.g., the desktop.