Playing the Samba On Your 3000 Dance Floor
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Playing the Samba On Your 3000 Dance Floor

By Joe Geiser
CSI Business Solutions

For many years, users of Windows-based PCs and HP 3000's have looked for a way to transfer files seamlessly, access HP 3000-based printers from PC-based applications and perform other tasks that require a client to access a server's filespace. After all, there was the File Manager under Windows for Workgroups and Explorer under Windows 95. Windows NT 3.51 also had the File Manager and Windows NT 4.0 has Explorer.

With these tools, users could access the filespace of Novell and Windows NT Server filespace and share printers using the SMB (Server Message Block) protocol that is built into all versions of Windows except 3.1 and below. Because the HP 3000 only utilized TCP/IP, with some limited support for IPX, the filespace and printers could not be recognized by Windows clients.

To enable this sharing, Unix users developed a utility called Samba, originally created by Andrew Tridgell. Today HP 3000 users have the same capability, thanks to the work of several people including Lars Appel of the HP Response Center in Germany.

What Exactly is Samba?
Samba is a set of utilities -- or in the Unix parlance, daemons -- which allow Windows-based tools and applications to access the filespace of servers including the HP 3000.

The 0.6 version of Samba allows a Windows-based client to access the filespace and to share the printers of the HP 3000. Samba presents to the PC client, using HFS, accounts, groups within accounts, files within groups, as well as HFS directories and files. Figure 1 shows Windows 95 Explorer with groups from the SYS account and files within PUB.SYS on an HP 3000.
What does it do for the network user? As one example, it allows direct editing of files such as source code and jobstreams using WordPad in Windows 95/NT. It allows the network administrator to permit access to the HP 3000, but control that access to particular accounts, groups and even files. It allows a user to access these files without resorting to a terminal emulator and an HP 3000-based editor such as EDITOR.PUB.SYS.

To receive this type of functionality in the past, HP 3000 users had to purchase HP Resource Sharing. This product allowed users to map a drive letter to the HP 3000 and to use printers, but it did not permit direct access to existing files, groups, HFS directories and accounts. Samba changes all of this by allowing users the functionality of Resource Sharing and exposing these objects within the HP 3000.

Why would I want to use it?
If you have source code or jobstreams on the HP 3000, Samba enables you to edit these files without starting a terminal emulator, logging on and using EDITOR or QUAD.

Imagine opening the Windows 95 Explorer and opening an HP 3000 file, editing the file with WordPad and then saving it by clicking File/Save. Samba allows users to integrate the power of their PCs seamlessly with yet another server operating system.

Imagine having a high-speed LaserJet as a spooled printer on your HP 3000 without a JetDirect device or card on that printer. Would it be desirable to print a long report from within Microsoft Access on the faster HP 3000 printer than on a slower LaserJet? Of course it is. And Samba allows you to do this seamlessly.

These are just a few examples of what can now be done. Other applications include backing up PCs and other servers to your HP 3000, which may have much more disk space. Does this make your terminal emulator obsolete? Absolutely not -- because Samba will not let you run programs or perform other tasks for which MPE/iX is needed.

How does it work on an HP 3000?
Samba, like other client-server tools, uses a "listener" jobstream. These are equivalent to a Unix daemon. The jobstream runs continuously, listening on port 139 for SMB packets requesting services. It returns information regarding the defined Windows Networking share, as well as establishing and maintaining connections between the Windows workstation and the HP 3000. For users of MPE/iX 5.5, it can also be run under the INETD (Internet Daemon) that is included with this version of the HP 3000 operating system. Users of 5.0 will require the use of the listener jobs described here.

There are two server components, along with some client utilities that can be used on the HP 3000. The two components are the SMB Listener and the NMB Listener. The SMB Listener establishes and maintains connections. The NMB Listener broadcasts the HP 3000 node name on the Windows Network. The NMB Listener is not necessary to use Samba. If not used, the node name will not be broadcast.

For example, if the node name of the HP 3000 is, NMB will broadcast "mtf" on the Windows network, and it will be visible in Network Neighborhood under Windows 95, as well as any configured "shares" as shown in Figure 2.

If NMB is not running, the host will not be visible, but SMB will still permit connection if the node name and a share are known. Connections can be made either through Network Neighborhood (only if NMB is running), or by mapping a drive letter as shown in Figure 3, as long as SMB is running.

If NMB is running, accessing an HP 3000 printer could be as easy as opening Network Neighborhood, opening the HP 3000 node being broadcast to expose the shares, the installing the shown printer. The HP 3000 printer then becomes another Windows printer for that workstation, as shown in Figure 4.

The Technical Details
Since Samba exposes the host server to the Windows network, this means that it also needs to expose systems and shares using the Universal Naming Convention (UNC). This is uses the format of \\systemname\sharename\directory\...\file.ext. For example, a server with a system name of "mtf" with a share called "superuser" would be shown in UNC syntax as \\mtf\superuser. Add a directory called "xyz" and a file called "samba.doc" would be shown as \\mtf\superuser\xyz\samba.doc.

For the HP 3000, HFS syntax is used since the standard MPE filename structure is not compatible with the UNC syntax. In this case, the highest level directory is the root, as in Unix. The Account is the next level "directory" followed by Group and then File or HFS directory. If the file TEXTFILE.PUB.SYS resides on an HP 3000 called, and a share is set up called "superuser," then the UNC name for this file is \\mtf\superuser\SYS\PUB\TEXTFILE.

Shares and the system itself are defined in an HFS file called \etc\local\samba\lib\smb.conf. Looks like Unix, right? This file is actually an HFS file within HFS directories. To edit this file, the MPE command :COPY can be used to copy the file (:COPY \etc\local\samba\lib\smb.conf, SMBCONF.PUB.SAMBA) to the MPE filespace. After editing this file, it can be copied back.

Shares can be set up for directories or the entire filespace, as well as printers. These shares can also be set up for read-only, or read-write access. In addition, a guest account can be set up so that guest shares can be established.

If security is important -- and knowing the average HP 3000 mission, it probably is -- you can also specify that Windows prompt for a password for a share. This is also defined in the configuration file. Because the MPE logon structure differs from Unix or Windows operating systems, some mapping needs to be handled. In this case, USER.ACCOUNT is mapped to a symbolic or actual Windows Logon Name.

The wrap-up
Overall, this 0.6 port of Samba, although still in extensive beta testig as of this writing, gives the user much functionality. It attains what most HP 3000/Windows users have been asking for: the seamless connection of filespace and file system between Windows and MPE.

Samba works under both MPE/iX 5.0 and 5.5. MPE/iX 5.0 requires the use of the listener jobs, while 5.5 gives you the choice of using the listener jobs or the INETD (Internet Daemon) included with this version.

If you're interested in looking at it, or even using it -- it's free! Chris Bartram of 3K Associates has provided the Web and FTP space and it can be downloaded from their site ( It helps a great deal if you're familiar with the HFS naming conventions for the HP 3000, first introduced with MPE/iX 5.0 and improved in 5.5. Read the instructions included on the website carefully. They contain everything you will need for a successful installation, including how to use the listener jobs or configuring for INETD under MPE/iX 5.5. It installs in less than 30 minutes. Within 45 minutes you will have your HP 3000 showing up in Windows 95 Explorer, too.

Joe Geiser is owner of CSI Business Solutions, a new company specializing in application development, education and solutions for integrating HP 3000, Windows NT and Windows 95 systems, within intranets or the Internet. "There are many ways in Windows NT Server can work with your HP 3000," Geiser says, "and CSI can show you how. Can your HP 3000 do it all? In some cases yes, and in some cases, it might need some help." To get your help, contact Geiser via e-mail, on the Web or toll free at 888.956.9812.

Copyright 1997, The 3000 NewsWire. All rights reserved.