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I have been populating a print server with printers all day today, and I noticed that it constantly changes the share name to 8 characters when you get to the sharing section of the "add new printer" wizard. If I change it to more characters server 03 tells me MS-DOS PC's will not be able to connect to this share. So it got me thinking why is it that 8 characters is the max that MS-DOS can see? Do shares with 9+ characters just not show up? It just doesn't make any sense to me, maybe it has something to do with the 16 bit architecture or FAT 16??? I did a quick Google search on share names in MS-DOS and didn't find anything, since I have a ton of printers to add I really don't have time to research this. To clarify I am looking for the technical reason behind this behavior.

Bonus points if anyone knows why server 03 defaults printer share names like this to support a OS released more than 20 years before 2003.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Traditionally MS-DOS systems use a directory and file system that harkens back to the old CP/M days where filenames have a very restricted format of 8 characters for the filename and 3 for the extention (known as 8.3 format)

This restriction was somewhat worked around with the advent of Windows 95 but it only really disappeared completely with Windows XP.

Due to everything like shares etc being seen as filesystems they are restricted to what the operating system can cope with - in the case of MS-DOS that's 8.3 format.

I personally haven't seen an MS-DOS system for a number of years (though I suppose some people still use them), so unless you actually have some MS-DOS systems on your network then this is something that can be pretty much ignored.

As to why they do it? Well, they're Microsoft. They don't need a reason.

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FYI, restrictions of the file sharing protocol are not necessarily related to restrictions of the on-disk filesystem. – grawity Mar 1 '11 at 21:07
Not the on disk filesystem, no, but what the operating system can cope with - which with msdos is 8.3 - it is only just a step up from CP/M – Majenko Mar 1 '11 at 21:14
@Matt: File names, yes, but share names are dealt with entirely inside the network redirector (when you call net use, for example). – grawity Mar 1 '11 at 21:32
Forgive me, but I thought we were talking about print shares, not file shares. – Majenko Mar 1 '11 at 21:38
@Matt: Both of which work the same way in SMB/CIFS. (At least in MS-DOS; I think NT systems default to RPC for printing.) Also, wouldn't 8.3 names have a 11 byte buffer alloc'd? – grawity Mar 1 '11 at 21:44

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