Samba 4.0, billed as the first free software file, print and authentication server suite that is compatible with Microsoft's Active Directory, has been officially launched after three years of development.
Comprising servers for directory access, authentication, dynamic domain name services and remote procedure calls, Samba 4.0 can act fully as an Active Directory Domain Controller for all versions of Windows currently supported by Microsoft, the development team said.
Improvements in Samba 4.0 include support for the system messaging block (SMB) version 2.1 file serving protocol, as well as an initial implementation of SMB version 3, both of which improve performance.
Clustered file server support is also built into Samba 4.0.
Originally developed by Australian National University PhD student Andrew Tridgell in 1991, Samba is free software, open source and runs mainly on BSD UNIX implementations, Solaris, Linux distributions, and AIX variants.
It is currently being developed by a team of coders from around the world, and enterprise storage servers from companies such as IBM, Symantec, EMC and Dell are based on the Samba code.
Microsoft assisted in the development of Samba 4.0, by publishing protocol documentation and interoperability testing.
Thomas Pfenning, Microsoft's director of Windows Server development, said the firm is committed to interoperability across platforms.
"We are pleased that the documentation and interoperability labs that Microsoft has provided have been key in the development of the Samba 4.0 Active Directory functionality," Pfenning said.