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Re: Solaris Beginner
From: Alex Moen <alexm () ndtel com>
Date: Tue, 5 Jan 2010 07:23:10 -0600

Congratulations on your decision to try something other than Windows... You are going to have some fun. Once you get over the learning curve, and start using *nix software, you will be shocked on how efficient, stable, and versatile these operating systems are. We are used to having servers running for (literally) a year or more without rebooting. The longest that one of my servers has run is well over 1000 days.

For file sharing with Windows clients, you are on the right track with Samba. Traditionally, *nix systems use (for example) NIS and NFS for sharing user info and data. Samba is simply a software package (free, of course... you are out of the M$ world here) that gives a *nix server (whether it be Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, etc) the ability to communicate using the NetBIOS/NetBEUI protocols, and the SMB (or CIFS) protocol, all over TCP/IP, which M$ clients call the "Microsoft Windows Network". There are many facets to Samba, such as the integration or mapping of the traditional *nix type filesystem access controls and the Windows filesystem access controls, password mapping, etc.

First off, I would recommend that you take some formal *nix training to get really familiar with the operating system that you are going to use, and then experiment and play with it for a while. We use Solaris very extensively here, and Sun has very good training for basic and advanced system administration of their software. Also, most *nix system admins are very "take charge" kinds of people, who research and learn how to use the available software out there. It requires reading, communication with others through mailing lists, compiling and recompiling software, and lots of trial and error. However, it promotes a broader view of how the operating system and software really work together, and how they integrate into a complete service. This is very different from the typical Windows admin, who simply points and clicks their way through life (no flaming please... this last comment was meant not as an insult, but simply as my observations of the Windows admins that I have known).

Personally, I have not had to integrate Samba into a Windows 2003 or AD (as we don't use any Windows servers), so I can't help a lot there. However, http://www.samba.org/ has tons of documentation and howto's that will really help in explaining how to integrate the software into your environment. They are the pros at this, and can explain the details much better than I can in an e-mail.

As far as security goes, I would venture to say that security is only as good as the system administrator wants or needs it to be, whether it is a *nix or Windows server. That being said, I would also venture to say that a *nix server will be more secure than a Windows server, all things being equal. Security is a very fundamental part of the *nix world, and has been around since the inception of these operating systems. You have already run into part of this, in your own research into the shadow file. Typically, the passwords in the shadow file are an MD5 or SHA hash, so there is no way to "crack" them, other than a brute force method. So put the shadow file away and don't mess with it.

Putty is simply a terminal client, that you would use for Telnet or SSH command line access to a *nix server. It's a relatively simple client, and there are more complex and more simple clients out there. However, Putty is free, so that's a good place to start. Security point: do not use telnet, use SSH. I'm not going into it here, just don't.

Again, good luck, and have fun with this. It can seem daunting and frustrating at times, but when you have the "Ah ha!" moment, it's all worth it, and you will really understand what you and the software are doing.

Hope this helps,


On Jan 4, 2010, at 11:08 AM, pma111 wrote:

Is it possible to access data from a Solaris Server on Windows XP machine? If so could you provide tools or strategies to accomplish this. I've heard of SAMBA but would prefer some detail on how this works, i.e a share on the Solaris box would have to be a SAMBA share would it not? Is it possible to access data on a solaris server from a windows machine in the same active
directory domain, but without any specialist software?

I have a copy of the /etc/shadow/ file from the Solaris Server which
contains the encrypted passwords but I cannot find any Windows based
crackers that will crack these passwords. I also dont know what client
software would be required to access data on the Server from a Windows
machine even if I do decrypt some weak passwords? Did see some mention of Putty but am unfamiliar with this or SAMBA. I also assume that any "open file shares" on the Solaris box wont be mappable or reachable to a windows machine, as is the case on win2k and windows 2003 servers, when all you need is my network places and hope some of the shares hav been given the deadly "everyone acl" in NTFS? I appreciate Solaris uses a totally different file system to NTFS but I assume you can share directories with anyone on the network if desired? Any tips on accessing data on this Server from Windows
much appreciated.

Out of interest, what are the mailing lists views on Security of a Solaris Server if every user on the internal network only have windows machines? Even if there is a weak password or open file share on the Solaris Server,
without specialist software is it fair to say the windows users still
wouldnt be able to get hold of data on the Server, or is that a very naive
view on things?

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