I am trying to implement a server with Samba 4.5.x on Debian 9. The Samba server shall be accessible from Mac OS X and Windows.

Here is the thing.

I have those groups (maybe is it my mistake ?) :

  • Admin (User 1 + User 2)
  • Group1 (User 3 + User 4)
  • Group2 (User 5 + User 6)
  • Group3 (User 7 + User 8)

I have these directories :

  • Directory1
  • Directory2
  • Directory3

    • SubDirectoryOfUser7
    • SubDirectoryOfUser8

I'd like to have to have :

  • User 1 + User 2 (Admin) to have read, write and navigate on any folders in all directories.

  • I'd like to have User 3 + User 4 (Group1) able to read, write and navigate in anything in Directory1 + guests to have right to read and navigate in this directory.

  • I want User 5 + User 6 (Group2) able to read, write and navigate in Directory2 and User 3 + User 4 (Group1) able to read and navigate in it.

  • I try to have User 7 + User 8 (Group 3) able to read and navigate in Directory3, but just able to write in their own SubDirectoryOfUserN7 and SubDirectoryOfUser8, User 5 + User 6 (Group 2) should be able to read, write and navigate in Directory3 + SubDirectoryOfUserS.

I have tried to organize the group like above, but I also tried a group configuration regarding directories. For instance Admin, who are User 1 and User 2 are also in Group1, Group2, etc. But It still doesn't work how I would like to.

I have tried to deal with ACL as well. But I still don't know what I should put in my smb.conf for read / write lists and create / directory masks. I don't know how I could correctly organize my groups to link them to directories. I don't know how to deal with nested directories in Directory3 as well.

Since I have tried so many ideas since 3 days, I feel literaly stupid with Samba now. I read many threads here, the Arch Wiki, the Debian Wiki, the Samba Documentation and an old manual, but about Samba 3, and I would say I am in the desert and all my knowledge and small experiments at home cannot be enough to deploy such a server in my NGO.

Please, if you would have recommendations, solutions or an appropriate link that would answer to those cases, I would be very thankful.

Thank you in advance !

1 Answer 1


I finally made it, if it can help someone. I don't know if it is nice, but it works nice with POSIX rights, without ugly ACL.

1] Create groups

$ sudo groupadd Group1
$ sudo groupadd ...

Please notice I did not create an Admin group since my admin users will be in all the other groups. This is the only way I made it work so far. If someone has a nicer way to deal with for instance an admin group with rights on anything, please tell me ! My solution is correct since I am managing a dozen of accounts but not hundreds or thousands...

2] Create users (without home folder and ability to use SSH for security reasons)

$ sudo adduser --no-create-hom --shell /usr/sbin/nologin user1
$ sudo adduser --no-create-hom --shell /usr/sbin/nologin user...

3] Add users in smbpasswd database. Please pay attention to the fact I had to add them, but also to enable them to avoid any kind of problems.

$ sudo smbpasswd -a user1
$ sudo smbpasswd -e user1
$ ...

4] Add users to the groups where they will be. Please notice I thought samba was not able to recognize secondary groups, but actually it does. The mistake was a misusing of the command line.

The error was:

$ sudo usermod -G user1 Group1
$ sudo usermod -G user1 Group2

If you do:

$ groups user1

You have something like:

user1 Group2

Because the secondary group has disappeared.

The good practice is:

$ sudo usermod -G Group1,Group2,Group3 user1

In this case:

$ groups user1

Will show:

$ user1 Admin Group1 Group2 Group3

Please, be careful of primary and secondary groups. An user can be in multiple secondary groups, but only in one primary group.

So another mistake would be:

$ sudo usermod -g Group1

If you do:

$ groups user1

You got:

$ Group1

4] Create the folders with the good permissions:

$ sudo mkdir /path/to/Directory1
$ sudo chown root:Group1 /path/to/Directory1
$ sudo chmod 2775 /path/to/Directory1

Please read this if you don't know nothing about file system permissions and setuid, setgid : chmod + setuid and setgid. The permissions and also there inheritances are important for your groups.

5] Create as many directories you want with the permissions you want.

6] Configure your smb.conf file with the editor of your choice. I personally use vim. Make a backup first before losing anything that was running well.

$ sudo cp /etc/samba/smb.conf /etc/samba/smb.conf.bak
$ sudo vim /etc/samba/smb.conf

Your config file here, with global config and Directory1 config is:


     workgroup = YOUR-LOCAL-WORKGROUP
     server string = %h # hostname
     log file = /var/samba/smb-%h.log
     max log size = 1000
     disable netbios = yes # since this is a standalone server
     server role = standalone server
     veto files = /*.exe/*.com/*.dll/*.bat/*.vbs/*.tmp/ # whatever your want
     delete veto files = yes


     path = /path/to/Directory1
     browseable = yes
     guest only = no
     guest ok = yes
     read list = nobody guest
     write list = @Group1
     force create mode = 0665 # please see system file permissions ...
     force directory mode = 2775 # ... and setuid, setgid, right above !

Please note the execution is important for your users. This allows them to navigate through the directories. But the execution is also a danger regarding files. You don't want you users to execute scripts or whatsoever, reading is widely enough.

That is why I restrict files on reading and writing for users and reading for anonymous, while I let executing on directories for navigation. Execute a folder is not a danger but execute a file is.

    force create mode = 0665
    force directory mode = 2775

Note the options delete veto file and veto files are also another shield since you don't want your silly Windows Mac OS X users put blobs or binaries or executable randomwares on your clean server.

7] Test your config file with a gentle command:

$ testparm

8] Everything is good ? Then.

$ sudo systemctl start smbd.service # or restart
$ sudo systemctl enable smbd.service 

Now you can log with the method of your choice and see that anonymous can explore the files on the server without the permission of writing it while your authenticated and designated users can read, write and execute -- i.e navigate from a directory to a directory.

Et voilà ! I hope it will help someone.

  • About secondary POSIX groups disappearing, you can use usermod -aG groupX userY to add userY to groupX to without replacing the current groups the user is in. (note the a before G in the command)
    – MestreLion
    Oct 29, 2023 at 0:05

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