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Accessing Windows 7 Shares from Ubuntu is a Pain

This blog post is about my experiences. If you hit this page from a search engine looking to fix this issue click here to skip to the solution.

Recently, I’ve been reorganizing my computers based on their usage. My old HTPC, has resumed its duties as my primary desktop/server, my Mac Mini has been attached to the my desktop through Synergy, my server was given to my brother for personal use, and his old computer – a nettop – is now being used as our new HTPC.

After a painful decision making process – a topic for another time, and another post – I decided that this nettop, named Apollo after the Greek god of many things including “music, poetry, and the arts” [as close as I could get to entertainment],  should run Ubuntu 10.4 with XBMC as the media center app. After testing it’s media playback capabilities from a local file, I was rather impressed. I set out to add a SMB share from within XBMC, and was prompted to add a username and password.

I wasn’t really expecting this, because Leviathan – my desktop/sever running Windows 7 – has public sharing turned on, as well as a guest account. I entered in my credentials, and was asked yet again for a username and password. After trying multiple times, I decided to quit XBMC and see if I could get Ubuntu to connect to the share. Here too, I was prompted for a username and password, again and again.

Next I headed to the terminal to run smbclient. This didn’t work either, as I was shown a message saying smbclient failed with “SUCCESS – 0″. I guess success shouldn’t be zero, so my next move was to attempt mounting the network share using CIFS. Again, I was met with repeated defeat.

Begrudgingly I took to the internet with my problem, only to find that there were many people unable to connect to their Windows 7 from Ubuntu. The suggestions ranged from registry hacks to group policy administration, none of which worked. One repeated suggestion however, was to un-install the Windows Live Sign-in Assistant. However, as a user of the Windows Live Essentials (Wave 4) Beta that was recently released – I had no such program. I did however have a similar application called the Windows Live Messenger Companion, which I chose to uninstall – again, to no avail.

However, I soon reasoned that perhaps whatever was blocking people using the Windows Live Sign-in Assistant was now being used within the actual Windows Live Messenger client or the other Windows Live Essentials apps that I’d recently installed. I started by uninstalling everything but Windows Live Messenger – because I really, really like the beta version. Alas, this did not help. Next I uninstalled the actual Windows Live Messenger client and voila – I was able to connect with no prompting for passwords at all. Because that makes -any- sense.

As a matter of interest, I installed the regular WLM non-beta client and made sure that the Windows Live Sign-in Assistant was installed, and tried to connect again. Not surprisingly, I was no longer able to connect to my Windows 7 shares. After un-installing the Windows Live Sign-in Assistant my shares were back up and I was mostly happy. Except that I couldn’t use the new Windows Live Messenger beta.

I can’t be sure if the other tinkering I did also helped clear up my problems, but as a recap here are the steps I recommend to access your Windows 7 shares from Ubuntu:

1) If you have the Windows Live Essentials (Wave 4) beta installed, you’ll have to uninstall all of the applications that come with this. For now, you can install the current version of Windows Live Messenger and the other Windows Live Essentials.

2) If you have Windows Live Messenger installed, or ANY of the Windows Live Essentials programs installed check to see if you have the Windows Live Sign-in Assistant installed. If so, uninstall it.

3) Hopefully, now you can enjoy your Windows 7 shares in Ubuntu

Important Note:

Beta software has this nasty habit of leaving beta status sooner or later. If this issue is not resolved when the newest version of Windows Live Messenger is officially released, you may not be able to use the Window Live Messenger client if you need your Windows 7 shares from Ubuntu. I would suggest using an application like Pidgin as your instant messenger, as it can also connect to the Windows Live Messenger service. Other options include Digsby, Miranda, and Trillian.

Originally posted on my personal website here.

  1. Jon F
    June 28th, 2010 at 21:15 | #1

    Have you been able to find any knowledge base articles or similar from Microsoft on the issue? I did a quick googling, and didn’t find anything.

  2. Phil D
    June 28th, 2010 at 22:19 | #2

    No, but I found a lot of forum users who tried the same thing I did and were not met with success either. I think that the whole situation with Windows 7 file sharing to Linux is pretty nasty, and needs re-evaluation from the linux side – I personally think that Microsoft is not likely do budge here.

  3. David C
    June 30th, 2010 at 05:20 | #3

    I have simply found that dual booting Win/Linux (I use PCLoS) and having a 2nd storage drive mounted as a folder in fstab is the easiest solution and then using Linux as the server, not Windows. After all have you tried getting Win7 and XP networked – yuck. My netbook which I connect to my TV runs XP and Ubuntu Netbook and it works fine as long as my big machine is running Linux.

  4. KimTjik
    June 30th, 2010 at 06:15 | #4

    I would probably never have to deal with your scenario, since I use Linux based SAMBA servers. What I wonder though is: do you know if this is exclusively a Linux client issue, or something that would occur even from a Windows client of all or some versions?

  5. Phil D
    June 30th, 2010 at 09:13 | #5

    @David C

    The problem comes from getting Ubuntu (my HTPC) to see a separate Windows 7 (my server/desktop) machine. Because the Win7 box is also my desktop, I don’t want to interrupt availability of files when I’m actually using the machine.

    @KimTjik

    It seems that this is the case, yes. I’ve tested Windows 7 server to Windows 7 client and to Windows Vista client, with no issue. I don’t currently have an XP client to test with, nor have I tested with my Mac.

  6. June 30th, 2010 at 14:29 | #6

    You need to lower the LAN Manager security policy.

    secpol.msc /s (or Local Security Policy on the start menu)

    Local Policies -> Security Options

    Network security: LAN Manager authentication level

    Set to: Send LM & NTLM – use NTLMv2 session security if negotiated

    Apply, and reboot.

  7. Phil D
    June 30th, 2010 at 14:54 | #7

    @Fewt

    Tried that, and it did not work while I had the Windows Live Messenger Beta installed.

  8. June 30th, 2010 at 17:11 | #8

    Crazy! I would report it as a bug to Microsoft. Since it’s a beta, you should have access to file one. The details are probably wherever you obtained the software or in help for the software.

  9. bbc
    July 26th, 2010 at 12:42 | #9

    Thanks for this. Had exactly the same issue except that the program I installed was “Windows Live ID Sign-in Assistant.”

    Describing this as “a pain” is putting it quite nicely.

  10. Nick
    October 3rd, 2010 at 11:39 | #10

    After a lot of messing around this worked for me! thanks. I didn’t try it at first because I could not believe it could really be the cause…

  11. Phil D
    October 4th, 2010 at 09:41 | #11

    @Nick
    I didn’t try it at first either. It’s such a stupid “fix”.

  12. joseph
    November 23rd, 2010 at 12:58 | #12

    Thank you! I had tried everything I could think of – nothing worked. This did.
    I have xbmc client (ubuntu) with movies on windows 7 box. it worked and then intermittently with various “fixes”, I tried, but then would not again.
    This was immediate and it seems robust. what a stupid “fix” though…

  13. phil
    January 1st, 2011 at 19:48 | #13

    I had this issue too; my Ubuntu 10.10 system used to connect fine to my Windows 7 Ultimate shares. Then one day I kept getting the same repeated dialog boxes for username/password. It had been a week and after checking my Windows system the only changes I had made were Windows updates and installing Windows Live Gallery. I uninstalled the Windows Live Gallery and after a restart of Windows I was back in business on my Ubuntu box; so thanks very much Phil D.

    P.S. I don’t really miss the Live Gallery anyway as I installed Picassa 3 and it’s face recognition is better I think.

  14. mark
    January 22nd, 2011 at 21:45 | #14

    wow, i’ve had this problem forever, tried samba settings, homegroup settings, etc… removed windows live mail (switching to outlook =( ) and bingo, i can access my files from ubuntu. glad it works, miss my windows live mail though.

  15. Axel Schneider
    July 29th, 2011 at 23:46 | #15

    Interestingly, for me, it worked until the 21th of July, though I have installed the Windows Live Essentials, for the Movie Maker some moths ago already. It stopped working on the 23th however. I have just deinstalld the Live Essentials, and voila, it’s working again.

  16. Ted
    September 28th, 2012 at 15:14 | #16

    I’m running ubuntu 12.04. I see no references to that version but I too am having trouble communicating between my Ubuntu and a desktop running Win7 Home Premium.
    It seems to me I was able to communicate when I ran an older version of Ubuntu.
    Any thoughts on 12.04?

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