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So, on my home network, I have a bunch of PCs and a couple macs on both wired and wireless. I make it so that all of the desktop machines that have ethernet connections have a locally set IP (no DHCP reservations), and everyone on wireless hits my wireless router for a DHCP assigned IP.

I have my desktop (currently Ubuntu 9.04, but I sometimes boot to OS X on it) set up as a file server using Samba. It too has the IP set statically on the machine.

I can connect to it just fine using any method that uses an explicit connection to this server (for example, I can ssh into it with ssh username@my.static.ip). However, most of the time when I try to "browse" the network using either the Windows network browser or OS X's equivalent, my server rarely shows up.

My question is, how do these automatic network browsers figure out what is on the network and how can I get my server to show up? I know on Windows only networks you can have something called a WINS server, and I think that does what I am talking about, but what can you do assuming you can't use a WINS server.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Set up your file server to be the WINS server (it's in the samba config options) and point your Windows machine (and Macs? I don't know about that) to use the that server. On Windows, the WINS config is part of the tcp/ip config. It also helps if the server and clients are all configured to use the same "workgroup" which is also in the samba config file and for Windows (I think, not sure) in one of the property tabs under the "System" applet under control panel.

Also, having all of your other machines using a local DNS server (another good role for the file server) would allow you to point to your machines by a local machine name (server.home), rather than an IP.

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Also, make sure that it always wins the election. (This is done with preferred master = Yes and os level=100 if I recall correctly) –  Josh Nov 24 '09 at 7:23
    
technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc738412(WS.10).aspx and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NetBIOS pretty much fully describe how this works, thanks for the pointers. –  twolfe18 Nov 25 '09 at 16:58

I've never used it, but it seems like Ubuntu supports Bonjour:

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/HowToZeroconf

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It does and it works great. But it won't solve his issue. @Geoff Fritz's answer is correct –  Josh Nov 24 '09 at 7:18

I can't speak for the rest, but windows network browser is based on the concept of election of a "Master Browser" . Basically, all the windows PC's on a LAN communicate and elect 1 computer to serve as the central repository of the database of all computers on the network. In a network with a PDC, this is usually the PDC. In order for this to all work, the NetBios protocol (used to) run on the lan to make all this happen. I think with modern PC's this all happens over TCP/IP. You can read all about it here though.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/188001

So in short, maybe if you run NetBios on all your computers they will all be able to see the common resources "Windows style"

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