Mac OS X Unleashed

Mac OS X Unleashed

By John Ray and William C. Ray


The Sharity SMB/CIFS client offers transparent access to Windows and Samba servers from the Mac OS X Finder. Unlike the built-in SMB/CIFS client, Sharity offers a wide range of customization and integration with Mac OS X. If you need more control over your connection, Sharity is the way to go. It can be used to mount volumes on a local area network, or anywhere on the Internet.

Sharity acts as a go-between for the SMB/CIFS protocol and NFS. To Mac OS X, the mounted volumes are nothing but NFS mounts. The power of this becomes apparent when you realize that not only does this give access to stored Windows files, but also to storage areas for Mac OS X software. In fact, using Sharity and Samba on a cluster of Mac OS X machines is actually a more powerful file sharing solution than the Mac OS X built-in Shared Folders.

Installing and Setting Up Sharity

The Sharity installation process is very Mac-like, but requires some knowledge of the Windows network that you're going to be connecting to. It would be helpful if you collected the name of a WINS server (remember, Samba can serve WINS!), and the shares you want to connect to, before continuing.

Download Sharity from There are currently several packaging formats for the application, including a dmg disk image. This is the preferred distribution format. After downloading, decompress the archive using StuffIt Expander (or your compression tool of choice) and double-click the disk image to mount it. The Sharity distribution appears in Figure 30.13.


Figure 30.13 The Sharity distribution consists of a startup item and an application.

To install Sharity, drag the Sharity icon into the Mac OS X /Applications folder. Next, check the System /Library directory to see if a StartupItems folder exists. If it does not, drag the StartupItems folder from the Sharity distribution directly into /Library.

If there is an existing /Library/StartupItems directory, open Start u pItems in the Sharity distribution and drag the Sharity folder into /Library/StartupItems.

Reboot the machine to start the Sharity process.

Sharity First-Run

The first time you run Sharity, it will guide you through an easy set up process. The initial welcome screen, displayed in Figure 30.14, collects the workgroup and WINS information for your Windows network. If you set up a Samba server in the beginning of the chapter, use the same values you used when configuring Samba.


Figure 30.14 Enter your workgroup and WINS server names.

Click OK to confirm your choices and join the Windows network. Within a few seconds, Sharity will automatically open the Network level within the Finder. You will notice that there is a new icon available—CIFS, seen in Figure 30.15. This is actually a mounted Sharity drive called a browser—navigating through the browser lets you find network volumes just like using Network Places in Windows.


Figure 30.15 The CIFS mount is equivalent to the Windows Network Places icon.


Double-click the CIFS icon to start browsing the Windows network. The first level of CIFS contains a list of computers (represented by folder icons) that are part of the workgroup you joined when opening Sharity. In addition, there is an Entire_Network folder that enables you to view all workgroups and hosts that are registered on the network. My local area network has two hosts—Inky and Pointy, as seen in Figure 30.16.


Figure 30.16 The first level of the CIFS hierarchy displays local servers within the same workgroup as well as an Entire_Network icon for browsing all available workgroups.

Mounting a Volume

As you learned in the Samba discussion, there are two types of security that can be implemented for a share: user level and share level. The difference between the two, in terms of Sharity use, is what happens when you double-click a computer folder. If the computer has user-level access, you must supply a username and password before you can see the contents. Figure 30.17 shows a login prompt for a user-level shared resource.


Figure 30.17 User-level access requires that a username and password be supplied before viewing shared volumes.

Fill in the login dialog box using the information that was set up on the Windows server:

  • Remote Username— The username used on the remote Windows computer.
  • Password— The corresponding Windows password.
  • Allow Sending Password Unencrypted— If connecting to an older Windows system, you might need to check this box. For most modern systems (NT 4/2000), leave this unchecked.
  • Store Username and Password— Save the username and password for the share so that it doesn't have to be entered in the future.
  • Store Credentials as Default— Saves the supplied username and password as the default name and password for resources on the network. This saved set is used to attempt to access other resources. If you use a different login/password on all the computers on the network, this won't be of much use.

Click Login to send authentication information to the server and view its available resources, or click Revert to return the form settings to their original values.

If the remote server uses share-level control, double-clicking the computer folder in the CIFS browser will show the available shares without the need for a password. A share list is displayed in Figure 30.18.


Figure 30.18 After logging in to a user-level server, or when accessing a server with share-level access, you'll see the available volumes.

To mount a shared resource, double-click the name of the volume you want to mount. If the resource has a share-level password, you'll be prompted for the connection information, as demonstrated in Figure 30.19.


Figure 30.19 Share-level security control displays a connection dialog box when accessing the resource.

Enter the password for the share, and click the Allow sending Password unencrypted check box if you are attempting to connect to an older Windows server. Click Login to mount the share. Within a few seconds, the share will open in the Finder.

That's all there is to it. To make sure that you can log in to shared resources immediately upon booting, you must drag the Sharity application into the Login Items pane of the Login System Preferences (path: /Applications/System Preferences) panel, as seen in Figure 30.20.


Figure 30.20 Add Sharity to your Login items.

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