Samba / Windows Server

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Starting from April 2018 and with the 18.04 LTS (L)Ubuntu release, a Samba server comes pre-installed on image cloned laptops. This means that a Labdoo laptop can be used as a server to other computer clients allowing these clients to access all the educational content in the server. This is a powerful configuration as it allows many types of devices (laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc.) to access the educational content in the server without the need to have access to the Internet or the need to replicate the educational software in many devices.

Due to the speed of the server or the network, there are limitations in the number of computer clients that can be supported by one computer server. If too many clients are connected, the performance of the data transfer will become slow. So if you have many computer clients, it may be necessary to have more than one computer server.

This page describes how you can convert a Labdoo laptop into your own computer server to provide access to other computer clients. With a few simple steps a server can be set-up, check out the next instructions on how to do that!

Install Samba server

  1. Install the package "samba" by running in a terminal sudo apt-get install samba or via the Linux package manager, e.g. synaptic.
  2. Type smbd [Enter] in a terminal to start the Samba server manually. To avoid starting this program each time manually, you can add "smbd" as a command in menu → Preferences / Settings → Personal / Personal → StartUp Applicatons / Start Programs → with "Add" → Name: Samba / command: smbd / Comment: add start up of Samba Server.. This will start the Samba server every time you reboot the system.
  3. If necessary, install additional extensions to the system's file managers to bring a better use experience. For instance you can install "caja-share" by typing in a terminal sudo apt-get install caja-share or by using the synaptic package manager (this extension is also part of the Labdoo Image since April 2018).

Set up the Shared Folders

  1. Open Caja as administrator/root by running sudo caja [Enter] in a terminal and right click on the folder you want to share. Click in the context menu "Share". Please notice that if Caja is not started as root, the menu item "Sharing" will not appear.
  2. Activate "Share this folder" and "Guest access", then enter your own "Share name".
  3. Close Caja.
  4. Alternatively for LXDE Desktop, install instead the File Manager PCManFM: Go → network → usually then the server is already recognized and displayed, otherwise Windows network → Workgroup → Server name select, usually labdoo-00000xxxx where xxxx is the Labdoo ID of the computer.
  5. Finally, don't forget that the computer must be connected to the network via LAN cable or WiFi.

Access to the server via tablet, mobile phone, laptop or PC clients

Depending on your client and operating system installed and in use (Android, iOS, Windows, Linux etc.) access to the server may be different. Below you will find some examples and tips. There are also useful programs such as file managers, browsers, pdf viewers or ebook readers on your device. Check if your file manager is able to connect to a server (not all apps are able to) or if additional extensions need to be installed.

Access to the Server Using a Client

  • In a (L)Ubuntu officially cloned Labdoo laptop comes with the file manager Caja. Either use the Menu → Places or use Caja and in the left column go to "Browse the Network" to scan and show all the servers in the network.
    • Android - open your file manager and click on "network". The network will be scanned for SMB-shares which will be shown in a file manager. If your installed file manager is not able to handle SMB, you have to install one with this ability. We recommend the file managers Ghost-Commander (to be installed using the apps store Google Play: both Ghost Commander and Ghost Commander - Samba Plugin need to be installed) or the X-plore add on.
    • iOS (Work in Progress)
    • Windows (Work in Progress)
  • To open the "Public" shared folder just double-click it. Then confirm "Connect as anonymous" to get connected.
  • For a faster experience, nearly all operating systems and file managers offer a way to bookmark favorite folders. Use it to bookmark the access to the server.

Connecting to the Server Using Ghost Commander in Android

The example Ghost Commander is similar to other file managers.

  1. Start Ghost Commander.
  2. Open "home" directory (arrow with dot right upper corner).
  3. Click on "Windows shares".
  4. In the window "Connect to Windows PC" click on "Search". No further input should be needed to connect to the server.
  5. Click on "Workgroup".
  6. Click on the name of the server you want to connect to.
  7. The shares of the server should be listed in your file manager.

To create a Bookmark Using Ghost Commander

  1. Click and hold on for about 2 seconds on the share you want to bookmark until a context menu opens.
  2. Click on the context menu "NAME_OF_THE_FOLDER as favorite".
  3. Now you will see the share at /Home (Arrow and dot upper right corner) /Favorites and have direct access, provided the SMB server is online and connected to the local network.

Note: Some file managers first store documents and pages locally before opening and displaying them. This can end up filling up the memory in your device. Cleaning up the memory can help.

Display Educational Content and Documents

  • Off-line web content: can be shown in your client's browser. Local off-line content must be stored using relative links (not absolute links).
  • pdf: to be displayed and read using a PDF viewer.
  • Office documents: It does not matter if you want to open and read Microsoft Office, LibreOffice, OpenOffice documents etc. in all these cases a viewer software app must be installed which can handle the file content.
  • Video / audio files: In this case the client must also have matching software / apps installed to watch videos or to listen to audio files.

Make Xowa Accessible from other Devices

Xowa comes with an http-server to help share Xowa wikis within a local network. Navigate to the folder /home/labdoo/Public/xowa and open a terminal (e.g. using the file manager Caja: File →open a terminal here). Run the Xowa-jar file in this folder as follows:

For 64 Bit installations: java -jar xowa_linux_64.jar --app_mode http_server [Enter]
For 32 Bit installations: java -jar xowa_linux.jar --app_mode http_server [Enter]

Don't close this terminal window, as otherwise the Xowa process will be stopped. So leave it open as long as Xowa is used by other client devices.

Some devices, operating systems and browsers can resolve the hostname into its IP address. The IP address is like the address number of a home, which controls the access to each device inside your LAN (Local Area Network).

If the IP address cannot be resolved automatically you can get it manually. From the server computer, first right mouse click on the network/WiFi symbol on the desktop → Connection Information → read IP address (often similar to 192.168.1.xxx). Notice: The IP address will change every time, when you reboot the server (if you run DHCP for dynamic IPs in your network). It might be helpful to assign a static IP address to your server.

Read Xowa Content on any Client

The following is based on the IP address 192.168.1.133 just to illustrate an example. Instead of this IP address, use your server's IP address. Open the browser of your choice on your device (tablet, mobile phone, PC) and type the address of the server:
SERVER_IP_ADDRESS:8080
In our example: 192.168.1.133:8080:8080

Related Links and References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samba_%28software%29
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Samba/SambaServerGuide
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_MATE
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCMan_File_Manager


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Using a Laptop as WiFi Hotspot to provide educational data to mobile devices


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