Mac OSX and Samba

smb (samba) is the protocol used by most Microsoft Windows workstations and servers to share files. An open source version of smb, called "samba" was created in 1992 and has been in heavy use and development since then. samba is used by most Unix machines to both access shared files (client) and make files available for sharing (server). Unix includes BSD, Linux and Apple OS X.

Beginning with Mac OS X 10.7, Apple stopped using the open source samba client and server for its workstations and servers. The authors of the open source samba had upgraded their licensing to GPL v3, meaning that any modifications Apple made to it had to be shared with the authors, and Apple decided not to do this.

Apple instead wrote its own (poor) implementation of the samba client, and Mac users upgrading to OS X 10.7 (or greater) began having some serious issues connecting to Windows and Unix servers using this popular file sharing system.

NOTE: Since Apple wrote both sides of the situation with samba, these problems do not exist in a pure Mac OS X environment. It is only when a Mac OS X machine (client or server) attempts to interact with a machine running another version of Unix or Microsoft Windows.

There are a couple of things you can do to get a true samba client or server for OS X. However, both have caveats.

  • Install SMBUp on your Mac (, however, I have seen some serious questions about this software. It appears to do a lot of file installation and is not open source as far as I can tell. Thus, the paranoid amongst us (ie, me) would not consider this an option.
  • disable Apples SMB and manually install Samba yourself. Probably an excellent idea IF you're a hacker already, and want to spend the time on it, or if you want to hire an outside consultant. This is the program that Apple used prior to OS X 10.7, and it is under continuous development. There is nothing recent I read, but this article ( walks you through the installation and this one ( walks you through configuration.
  • A third option exists if you are connecting to only Unix servers, and that is to use a different protocol called nfs. This is so basic, I'm not aware of any non-Microsoft products that don't support it, and it is fairly easy to set up. OS X connects to nfs servers quite easily (but not quite as easily as samba under pre-OS X 10.7). For a great article on mounting an nfs share under OS X, see You will need to have your server administrator turn on nfs for the data you want to access. I have used nfs and smb to access the same network shares with no issues for several years.

NOTE: A problem has been reported with OS X 10.11.5, where the speed of connection to a samba server falls dramatically (less than 10% of pre-upgrade speed). See for how to fix that issue.



Tags: osx, samba
Last update:
2016-06-15 03:19
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