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We have a Linux NAS and we’re doing some basic Samba sharing. Windows machines are quick and peppy to connect with the device, as are the Linux VMs I’m running on my Mac.

The SMB stack Apple has made is notoriously slow. It freezes, stalls, crashes finder. It’s my single biggest issue with my Mac.

I have experience with Linux/Open Source but I’m far from a pro sysadmin. Have any of you compiled and installed Samba from source? I would like to know if it is a good idea to try or if this will just end up with me reinstalling from a backup.

Is the performance better? Could you find good support online? Can you share these resources with me?

  • Good question, I hope someone has an answer. – Dave Nelson Feb 9 '15 at 18:46
  • Just a question about your “Linux NAS”… Is this some homebrewed setup? Or is it an off-the-shelf device? The reason being, most off-the-shelf devices use Netatalk to provide AFP services and it’s a pretty rock solid way to get Mac OS X machines to connect to Linux boxes. – JakeGould Feb 9 '15 at 19:16
  • It's a Dell Optiplex that has Ubuntu 14.04 installed on it. I suppose that qualifies as "homebrewed?" – ezgoodnight Feb 9 '15 at 19:19
  • Netatalk was pretty easy to get set up on Ubuntu, although it appears to be even worse than SMB. That's truly suprising. – ezgoodnight Feb 9 '15 at 20:18
  • @ezgoodnight Welp, then I would not recommend going down the Netatalk route for now. But it is something you might want to read up on when you have free time. – JakeGould Feb 10 '15 at 2:45
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Honestly, it’s a mixed bag. I worked for a client in an enterprise environment—300+ users—with mixed Windows and Mac OS X clients and the SMB/CIFS issues were maddening to say the least. The only “solution” to some specific file sharing issues we could practically implement was to deploy Synology rack-mounted NAS enclosures and use those in lieu of core Windows server-based file sharing since those Linux-based devices handled SMB and AFP connections on Mac and Windows clients beautifully; never an issue.

But I left before any real solution was implemented for the core Windows server-based issues they faced. One idea we seriously looked into was upgrading the default install of Samba on the Mac OS X client side via SMBUp. As the developer’s page states:

Did you lose your shared folders with the update of Mac OS X from Snow Leopard to Lion? You can’t see your shared folders from your DVR or Mediacenter box hooked in your TV? The internet tells you to install gigabytes of developer tools and use tons of command-line instructions to regain the ability to see your mac from your other devices in the house after moving to Lion or Mountain Lion? We might be able to help.

SMBUp (current version: 1.4.1) re-instates Samba as a service of your mac and provides a simple interface to manage the service. Compatible with OS X Lion and above.

That said, I still see a “fix” like this as a “caveat emptor” endeavor. Apple really mucks around with Samba with each new Mac OS X install. So who knows what will happen if you—for example—install SMBUp and then run an Apple update that somehow conflicts with it. I’d honestly be walking on eggshells with each new Mac OS X upgrade/patch if I went down this path.

That said, the nice thing about SMBUp is that the developer is clearly devoted to providing simple/non-sysadmin level advice in the usage of this package to help people going nuts of SMB issues in Mac OS X. In fact, as the developer explains here on a “Mac OS X Hints” page on installing SMB support from source:

I made SMBUp to help people avoid having to install XCode and MacPorts, both of which I love but which are overkill for something like this. I kept waiting for someone to come up with a simple installer for Samba binaries (my money was on Liyanage, who'd made similar things in the past) but after a year I just gave up and made SMBUp.

So you could do worse if you attempt to do this yourself; at least this developer is doing the “heavy lifting” for you in this case. But like I said, I would still be wary of interactions with core Mac OS X functionality with each Mac OS X upgrade/update. Thus is the reality of Apple’s odd devotion to pushing everything into “the cloud”; basic functionality like file sharing is not seen as a priority anymore.

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    Very helpful answer, Jake. Thanks for this info. I will probably back up tonight and try SMBup and see if this is helpful for my environment. – ezgoodnight Feb 9 '15 at 19:14
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    As an update to this, Netatalk has actually been working fairly well for us ever since this post. After the server cached all the files it needed, it is considerably more usable than before. – ezgoodnight Aug 13 '15 at 21:38

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