The main file shares on our network are currently hosted by old Apple XServes. I had planned to replace some of these with Windows shares as I have better hardware available but have been told this is likely to cause issues with some of our Mac users.

What sort of issues am I likely to run into and what are the recommended ways of hosting general file storage in a mixed OS (Windows, OSX, occasionally linux) environment?

5 Answers 5


To connect to Windows share most Linux distros uses the Samba implementation of the SMB protocol.

Apple uses their own SMB implementation derived from FreeBSD smbfs in OS X. Mac OS X 10.5 supports SMB singing, having to turn off digitally sign all communications in Windows server 2003 will only be needed for 10.4 and below.

I use both everyday to connect to windows shares and never have a bit of trouble.

  • I'll second that. I often use my personal Mac for business needs -- I have more graphics tools on it than my Windows box, and also VPN in with it. Once VPNed in, or on the company's physical LAN, I can access any share for which I have domain privs by using "Connect to Server." Never once had an issue, and ALL of our machines are Windows-based, with no consideration ever given to "alternative" platforms.
    – John Rudy
    May 5, 2009 at 17:12

On the Macs in question it's worthwhile to note that you should try and disable the creation of .DS_Store files on network shares if you have not done this already. (Details at MacOSXHints.com)

Additionally you should be aware that over SMB you will notice ._FILENAME files created - this is how OS X maintains the resource fork data and such on other file systems. This can cause an issue for someone on a Windows based machine if they try to open up the wrong file.

It's possible to have the server not allow these files (in smb.conf you can set veto_files=._*) but where it is in Windows Server 2003 I'm unsure but I believe using this article from TechRepublic should prove a worthwhile starting point.


Windows 2003 and up have a feature (which is enabled on Group Policy under Security Options) that will digitally sign all communications on the Microsoft network server. That will prevent Mac OS X clients from accessing shares on a Windows 2003(+).

If you can live with the security 'downgrade' that turning that off would represent, I do not see any other issues at all.


In addition to David's answer, Kerberos authentication may pose some problems.


Are any of the Mac users using the current XServe -shares for Time Machine backups? IF so, you will need a replacement that supports the AFP -protocol, SMB alone is not enough. Microsoft dropped the last bits of support for Macs on 2008 server, although on 2003 it was already buggy and incomplete.

If the Time Machine -backups (or any other AFP -dependant service) are a requirement, you can either get a Mac Mini server or buy a separate Mac -enabler service for W2008.

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