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Technical milestones and improvements for Samba on the horizon

This two-part article focuses on the strengths and advantages that make Samba unique. While part one took a look at some of the organizational, technical, and conceptual issues that are often discussed, this second part discusses technical milestones and improvements on the horizon, highlighting key Samba contributions still being worked on by the SerNet Samba Team members Volker Lendecke, Stefan Metzmacher and Ralph Böhme.

Robust and scalable – Multichannel Support for high performance
Sometimes Samba is criticised for "low concurrent connections / low concurrent opens". Because of the multiprocess model, which is more robust than a single-process multithreaded server model, Samba has higher RAM requirements than possibly other solutions. This is more relevant for the embedded SOHO router market than for enterprise storage solutions and to help the former the next Samba version will ship with a rewritten RPC-Server written by Volker Lendecke which results in a much smaller memory footprint.

SMB3 Multichannel support in Samba has been available since version 4.15 released in September 2021. The SerNet Samba team can provide stable backports to 4.12, 4.13 and 4.14 as we already have (and use) them in SAMBA+ 4.14 and custom packages.

Improving IO performance
Samba's IO performance is limited by the frequent data buffer copies done in the kernel for servicing Samba user space IO requests, resulting in high CPU usage and a CPU bound performance limit. This is an architectural limitation deeply rooted in the UNIX design. Two years ago a modern Linux API called “io_uring” has been added to Linux that allows user space applications like Samba to achieve zero-copy zero-syscall IO for the full IO path from disk to network. 

Recently, research on Samba performance improvements had been sponsored, and a Samba prototype was developed leveraging “io_uring”. We were able to improve IO performance drastically from 4 GBytes/s on a given hardware to 10 GB/s, the line speed of the 100 GBit/s adapter, with a significantly reduced CPU load of only 25%. Further testing using the loopback interface saw the throughput max out at up to 30 GB/s, the bottleneck being the clients used in testing (smbclient), not the server.

For more details see the discussion on the Samba list or the SDC 2021 presentation "Samba Multi-Channel/io_uring Status Update" from Stefan Metzmacher.

It would only take a few weeks of work to integrate the prototype into mainline Samba. Companies interested in this feature, please contact us to possibly join the list of companies sponsoring Samba development!

Samba supports Enterprise features
When it comes to clustering, you will get an "enterprise ready" SMB cluster from Samba. It supports scale-out active/active clustering and has been used for many years along with industry-leading clustered enterprise file systems like GPFS. Samba has plans to support “SMB Transparent Failover” and Ralph Böhme gave a talk at the SNIA SDC in 2018 on Persistent Handles in Samba. Again, companies interested in this feature, please contact us to possibly join the list of companies sponsoring Samba development!

ksmbd
Starting with Linux kernel 5.15, Linux will ship an in-kernel SMB server called “ksmbd”. ksmbd and Samba plan to work closely together in the future, and the main developer of ksmbd is as of recently also a member of the international Samba Team. Both projects will work hand in hand to combine ksmbd’s in-kernel SMB engine with Samba's user space daemons and tools. For a brief introduction, see the presentation from sambaXP 2019 (Slides) or the status update from sambaXP 2021(Slides).

Do you still have questions? Or would you like to talk to us about using Samba / SAMBA+? Then please feel free to contact us.


SAMBA+ 4.15.1 and 4.14.9 have just been released by SerNet. Packages for various SUSE and Red Hat platforms as well as for Debian GNU/Linux, Ubuntu and AIX are available now.

These packages address several issues, which are listed in the release notes:

This release also fixes a security problem related to Kerberos authentication. As usual, we recommended to update to the latest bugfix release of the major version branch that you use.

SAMBA+ packages and all later versions are available as software subscription. They can be purchased at the SAMBA+ shop, detailed information and prices are listed at https://shop.samba.plus. The subscriptions are managed at our platform OPOSSO (https://oposso.samba.plus). Users can activate their subscriptions here and manage access credentials. The new SAMBA+ packages are included in existing subscriptions.


Strength and Advantages of Samba

Samba is an open source SMB implementation and the reference for other projects. It is developed by an international community that is committed to highest technology standards and free software principles. Samba is available since 1992 and is used by many storage OEMs, often since decades.

A variety of strengths and advantages make Samba what it is: a highly reliable SMB stack that continues to evolve. We from SerNet, one of the main support and development companies of Samba, would like to present some of them in an two-part article. Part one takes a look at some of the organizational, technical and conceptual issues that are often discussed. Part two will present technical milestones and upcoming improvements.

SAMBA is Open Source
The open source Samba code is on the web and cannot be taken down. Everybody is free to use, run and modify the software from smallest to biggest environments in both closed and public settings.

Samba is the best option for security and compliance, because you can test and verify it yourself down to the core. And due it's long history the Samba code has been extensively tested and reviewed by the large community, it's users and companies shipping Samba in their products.

Most companies, including startups and blue chips, can easily work with the GPLv3 license on the basis of sane legal advice. We recommend watching the numerous video and audio contributions from companies using SAMBA which have been presented at SerNet's annual SAMBA conference sambaXP since 2002 (see the archive or our YouTube channel).

“SAMBA, Inc.” can‘t be sold - because there is none
Vendors naturally want to ensure that their efforts and investments are as solid and safe as possible. With Samba, there is no vendor of a proprietary SMB stack that could be acquired by competitors to discontinue the product as seen by the acquisition of Likewise by EMC.

Benefit from experience
A long track record and veritable experience with SMB is important. Many companies and vendors want to integrate a free, mature, peer reviewed open source SMB stack. There is no need to keep reinventing wheel – using Samba allows to build on what has already been achieved.

Experience the advantages of a vibrant community
For a key component, companies can work with the vibrant Samba community that is innovative, agile and open. Diversity is an asset!

Comprehensive and independent technical support
Technical support for Samba is provided by a wide range of companies around the world. In addition to SerNet (Germany) with customers in Europe, the US and worldwide, there is also Catalyst from New Zealand with its customers in many countries around the world as well as many other supporters. SerNet offers 24/7 support and development services for more than 20 years to customers from startups to blue chips and many Fortune 500 companies among them.

SAMBA keeps up with Microsoft’s latest SMB development
Microsoft and the SAMBA team are working together in a long-term collaboration. Microsoft learned to embrace open standards and is increasingly committed to open source software and free software principles. Communities like the SAMBA team may be slower than companies - but their progress is free to the public, reliable and irreversible. Samba does not aim to be first and the fastest, but follows the idea of “opening windows to a wider world” in collaboration with Microsoft. Members of the Samba team are regular presenters at international conferences and attend interop events hosted by Microsoft several times a year.

SAMBA has no GUI - intentionally!
There is no GUI provided by the SAMBA team because you simply do not need one. After setting up SAMBA within a few steps, you're able to configure your Microsoft-compatible SMB AD controller and file & print server with a Windows-based management console. Also, vendors need a GUI that is tailored to their product.

Embedded SAMBA use is possible – if you want to
Samba can be tailored for embedded use. If you want to take the challenge and customize Samba for your use case, you can start working on it right away - or work with someone like SerNet to help you.

SAMBA preserves its history
Often we hear: “SAMBA has a lot of legacy code.” Of course it has! SAMBA is the best backward compatible SMB stack on the market and legacy support is a crucial asset in a Windows world with its highly diverse Windows versions being run by users and companies.

Dive into the broadest variety of supported platforms
SerNet's SAMBA+ offering is diverse and complete – just take a look at the Subscription Management Portal OPOSSO to see which platforms are supported.

Do you have more questions? Or would you like to talk to us about the use of Samba / SAMBA+? Then please feel free to contact us.


SAMBA+ 4.14.8 has just been released by SerNet. Packages for various SUSE and Red Hat platforms as well as for Debian GNU/Linux, Ubuntu and AIX are
available now.

Release notes are available here: https://www.samba.org/samba/history/samba-4.14.8.html

SAMBA+ packages and all later versions are available as software subscription. They can be purchased at the SAMBA+ shop, detailed information and prices are listed at https://shop.samba.plus. The subscriptions are managed at our platform OPOSSO (https://oposso.samba.plus). Users can activate their subscriptions here and manage access credentials. The new SAMBA+ packages are included in existing subscriptions.


SAMBA+ 4.13.12 has just been released by SerNet. Packages for various SUSE and Red Hat platforms as well as for Debian GNU/Linux, Ubuntu and AIX are
available now.

Release notes are available here: https://www.samba.org/samba/history/samba-4.13.12.html

Please note that this is the last bugfix release of the Samba 4.13 release series. There will be security releases only beyond this point.

SAMBA+ packages and all later versions are available as software subscription. They can be purchased at the SAMBA+ shop, detailed information and prices are listed at https://shop.samba.plus. The subscriptions are managed at our platform OPOSSO (https://oposso.samba.plus). Users can activate their subscriptions here and manage access credentials. The new SAMBA+ packages are included in existing subscriptions.


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