From azlan on Thu, 20 May 1999
How do I configure the Network setting so that I can access other PCs in a LAN regardless of what other PCs have as their OSs(Linux/Windows/Macs) -- Network File Sharing.
AZLAN Ipoh, Malaysia
Using Samba on your Linux and other UNIX systems will allow them to act as file and print servers to NT, Win '9x, WfW, and OS/2 LANMan clients.
Netatalk will allow the same Linux and UNIX systems provide file and print services to MacOS clients (although MacOS X will probably be even better in this role --- if you want to pay for it).
While we're on the subject it's possible to run Novell Netware under Linux (available through Caldera). There's also the free mars_nwe (Netware emulator).
So, the obvious answer to your question is to install the appropriate software on your Linux and other UNIX systems. This will allow them to communicate with your Windows and MacOS systems using the protocols that are native to those systems.
Naturally you could try installing NFS on the "other" operating systems. However, NFS is a pretty lame protocol (particularly in versions 1 and 2). Linux support for NFS is still not sterling, though the new kernel driver is getting better and we are seeing some preliminary v3 and NFS over TCP support. More importantly we find that the various NFS implementations for NT, Win '9x, MacOS, etc. are very bad. These take lots of resources from these non-UNIX operating systems, cause conflicts and make these systems even less robust and stable (which is very bad considering how often we have to reboot our NT, '9x and Macs already).
I should point out that Samba and Netatalk aren't a bed of roses. Actually, to question that old idiom a bit perhaps I should say that they ARE a bed of roses, complete with thorns!
Presumably you'd like seamless filesharing with robust file and record locking, security, and high reliability.
The problems that come with this are often subtle. If you took a given directory tree (say the home directories for your users) and shared/exported it out over NFS, AppleTalk, and SMB protocols you'd probably find numerous problems with file corruptions and horrible concurrency issues. The low level locking semantics and, in many cases, the file formatting characteristics, even the file naming syntax, are all just different enough to cause irreconcilable differences.
Frankly your best bet for heterogenous file sharing to this day is probably Netware. Naturally this means getting Netware clients for you MacOS, Win '9x, and even OS/2, and MS-DOS systems. Native Linux drivers for accessing Netware servers are available. There are the ncpfs (free) drivers (aren't those in the stock 2.2 kernels these days?) and the clients from Caldera (non-free, based on code licensed from Novell).
Sometimes I wonder why FTP is still such a widespread and popular protocol. Other times I look at the issues like these, and I know.