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How to mount remote Windows shares

OK, we live in the wonderful world of Linux. BUT, for many of us, having to deal with Windows is a fact of life. For example, you may want to use a Linux server to back up Windows files. This can be made easy by mounting Windows shares on the server. You will be accessing Windows files as if they are local and essentially all Linux commands can be used. Mounting Windows (or other samba) shares is done through the cifs virtual file system client (cifs vfs) implemented in kernel and a mount helper mount.cifs which is part of the samba suite.

The following names are used in our examples.

Word of warning: the default behaviour for mount.cifs is leaving the mounted share unsecured (http://bugs.centos.org/view.php?id=4537). If you are managing a multiuser system, consider setting the dir_mode and file_mode options to your mount point.

1. Required packages

Make sure that the following packages are installed:

[root@host]# yum install samba-client samba-common cifs-utils

which will also pull in any needed dependencies. Note that cifs-utils is for CentOS-6 (or later) only.

2. Basic method

Create a local mount point. For example:

[root@host]# mkdir /mnt/win

Edit the /etc/fstab file and add a line like:

\\winbox\getme /mnt/win cifs user,uid=500,rw,suid,username=sushi,password=yummy 0 0

The Windows share gets mounted on boot. Add the noauto option if you wish to manually mount it by the command mount /mnt/win . In this example, local user (uid=500) will become the owner of the mounted files. Use of the uid flag is optional. However, it may be required for certain applications (for example, Acrobat) to work because they are picky about the permissions.

You may want to use different options for cifs. For example, nocase allows case insensitive path name matching. Do a man mount.cifs to see more options.

[Note: if you used smbfs in earlier versions of CentOS, you must replace it with cifs in CentOS 5 because smbfs has been deprecated.]

3. Better Method

The above method has a little problem. Username and password are visible to everyone. We can avoid this by using a credentials file.

\\winbox\getme /mnt/win cifs user,uid=500,rw,noauto,suid,credentials=/root/secret.txt 0 0

Note: per jbroome, in IRC, a working example looks like this

\\jellyfish\DBRefreshLogs\beta2 /media/DBRefreshLogs/beta2 cifs    credentials=/root/secret.txt,_netdev,uid=oracle,gid=dba 0 0

Where the /root/secret.txt file looks like this:


This file can be placed anywhere. Encrypted passwords cannot be used. Make sure it is not readable by others. Note also that no spaces are allowed.

(Note: username can have a form of username=<domain>/<hostname>)

4. Even-better method

Once mounted through /etc/fstab the remote share remains mounted unless you umount it. This might cause problems if the remote share becomes unavailable, resulting in stale mounts. For example, the Windows machine you are connecting to might crash (surprise!) or the network might go down.

Automount comes in handy (if you don't already have autofs, install it by yum install autofs). Here is what you need to do. First create a mount point

[root@host]# mkdir /mymount

[Note: You can use any directory; make sure that directory exists]

To the /etc/auto.master file add a line like:

/mymount /etc/auto.mymount

Then edit the /etc/auto.mymount file you just entered:

winbox  -fstype=cifs,rw,noperm,user=sushi,pass=yummy ://winbox/getme

Or by using the same credentials file as above:

winbox  -fstype=cifs,rw,noperm,credentials=/root/secret.txt ://winbox/getme

Note that /etc/auto.mymount can be made world-unreadable, so, use of the credentials file is not as important as in the previous method.

[More note: If you cannot connect by the machine name but can connect by its IP address, then add wins on the hosts line of /etc/nsswitch.conf .]

When all is ready, run /sbin/service autofs restart as root.

Now try accessing the share by ls /mymount/winbox or by  cd /mymount/winbox . It is dynamically loaded upon access. After some inactivity (default 60 seconds), the share will be unmounted.

[Note: Upon automounting, you may see an error mount_cifs.so: cannot open shared object file in /var/log/messages. This is harmless and can be safely ignored.]

5. Yet Another Even-better method

If you have multiple shares to mount with the same credentials, there is a handy way to set it up.

Create a local mountpoint (of your choice):

[root@host]# mkdir /mnt/smb

Add this line to /etc/auto.master:

/mnt/smb /etc/auto.smb.top

Create /etc/auto.smb.top as:

* -fstype=autofs,-Dhost=& file:/etc/auto.smb.sub

Create /etc/auto.smb.sub as (adjust as needed):

* -fstype=cifs,credentials=/root/secret.txt,uid=500,gid=100 ://${host}/&

Let's make sure that the permission bits are correct and restart the service:

[root@host]# chmod 644 /etc/auto.smb.*
[root@host]# /sbin/service autofs restart

Now you can access by simply typing:

[user@host]$ cd /mnt/smb/winbox/getme

(Thanks to Mia Via for sending in this tip)

Additional tips:

If you have multiple remote servers and shares with different usernames and/or passwords, use this formula:

* -fstype=cifs,credentials=/root/${host}.secret.txt,uid=${UID},gid=${EUID} ://${host}/&

To allow users to put their own usernames/passwords to their home directories (might expose security even more):

* -fstype=cifs,credentials=${HOME}/${host}.secret.txt,uid=${UID},gid=${EUID} ://${host}/&

To improve security with Samba-servers, you could also add sec=ntlmv2, and make credentials file hidden like this:

* -fstype=cifs,sec=ntlmv2,credentials=${HOME}/.${host}.secret.txt,uid=${UID},gid=${EUID} ://${host}/&

See mount.cifs man page for details about the sec- and other cifs related mount parameters.

(Thanks to Tapio Ryhänen for sending in these tips)

If you just want to browse Windows files, you do not need to mount them. There are easy ways to access them from your file browser.

In Konqueror, Go -> Network folders -> Samba Shares
In Nautilus, Places -> Network -> Windows Network

To go to a specific share more quickly, you can type directly in the Location box of Konqueror:


If you use Nautilus and do not see the location box, you can type a / to bring it up (thanks to JohnnyHughes for this hint).

2023-09-11 07:23