Andrew Bartlett: 20 Years on Samba

by Andrew Bartlett

Back in 2000 I was still a student at Hawker College in Canberra Australia and I had been given access to what was the old SCO Unix box that previously ran the library administration system. Red Hat Linux was around back then, and I installed that on the host and with it Samba. We set up user accounts per student, replacing the practice of storing work on either a floppy disk (remember those?) or on the local hard-disk of the lab computers.

There was a domain, but only generic logins (r84l3) for class number 3 in room 84, so privacy was only that we used the same computer each lesson. So I wrote a small Visual Basic program to help automate the user logon from the NT4 domain accounts to the Samba accounts on 'Jessie'. It is in that context that I joined the Samba project, sending patches in a language I had never used before (I 'learnt' C by waiting till the compiler stopped complaining and the segfaults stopped. Ouch!).
The link above is the first patch I can find in the archives, in September 2000. Thankfully the Samba project took me under their wing, and project founder Andrew Tridgell, in particular, became an incredible mentor for many years, inviting me to join the Samba Team in July 2001. Thankfully 'Tridge' as he is universally known was also in Canberra, living in the same suburb at one point!

I was hired by the school to stay on and be part of the IT administration team. The Jessie system grew into a full NT4-like domain (running Samba) and this started my interest in Samba domains. Backed by OpenLDAP it served the school well and I maintained it until after I finished at University (when it was transitioned over to 'standard' Windows AD by others). I never got my wish to see Linux desktops running at the school, by good luck we managed not to have a Windows worm wipe out the network, but I did have a network booted Linux system 'just in case'!

It was the experience at Hawker College that showed me the power of an Open Source Samba DC, but also the limitations, and so was the root of my passion for our AD DC. I began working on the AD DC code at the time and through multiple employers since, culminating in my over seven years at Catalyst. I could never have imagined how it would grow. Sadly not so widely deployed in education (an area I still have a soft spot for), Samba's AD DC was instead taken to new heights by major installations in multi-national corporations and major world governments.picture of 8 males who make up the Samba team

Finally, I do want to say a big thanks to those on the Samba Team and in particular, those who have been on this journey with me at Catalyst. I remain very proud of what I've been able to be a part of in this 20 year journey, and the privilege of building and leading Catalyst's own Samba Team. To all my follow Catalyst Samba Team members and to the directors who have given me space and support: it has been an amazing journey, but evermore the better for your company, wisdom and friendship along the way! I'm particularly grateful for the space not just to improve our software, but to improve how, as people, we develop our software.