Windows 7 uses a feature called Homegroup, which enhances the Workgroup feature in order to make home networking easier for all Windows 7 computers. However, this feature doesn't work on Linux or older versions of Windows. In order to connect your Linux computers to Windows 7 computers and share files and folders, you need to make a series of settings. The first setting is to enable file sharing. Then, you need to change the Workgroup, so that all computers belong to one Workgroup. In this tutorial I will demonstrate how to enable file sharing and then how to configure and change the Workgroup on an Ubuntu PC.
NOTE: Article updated to work with Ubuntu 10.10 & 11.04.
Install the Sharing Service in Ubuntu Linux
The sharing service or Samba as it is called in Ubuntu is not installed by default. The installation process of Samba varies in complexity depending on the method you will be using. I will show you the most easy and straightforward method to install Samba.
First, in Ubuntu, open the Home Folder, located in the Places menu.
Next, right-click on any folder from this window to open a contextual menu. From the contextual menu, click on Sharing Options.
This opens the Folder Sharing window. Check the box next to ’Share this folder’.
A warning window will pop-up stating that the sharing service is not installed. Click on the Install service button.
Note: If you do not receive this warning, it means that the sharing service is already installed and you should be able to share files and folders. To change the Workgroup, follow the instructions found in the next section.
Then type your user account password and click on OK. The installation process will begin.
In a few seconds, you will be notified that all changes have been successfully applied. Click Close and Ubuntu will ask to restart your session.
Save any open files you might have and click Restart session. After the restart, the sharing service is installed and fully functioning.
Configure and change the Workgroup in Ubuntu
In most cases you won’t have to change the Workgroup name because, by default, Ubuntu, Windows and Mac OS X have the same Workgroup name, which is actually “workgroup”. However, if you have to change it follow the steps detailed in this section.
Open a Terminal window and type the following command:
sudo gedit /etc/samba/smb.conf.
Then, press Enter. If you haven’t previously used the Terminal this session, Ubuntu will ask you to type in your user account password.
Next, the Samba configuration file will open in a gedit window. Scroll down, if necessary, until you find the workgroup line, in the Global Settings section.
Edit the Workgroup name so that it will match the name of the Workgroup you want to add your Ubuntu computer to.
Click on Save and restart Ubuntu so that the new settings get applied.
NOTE: If you have a network which includes Windows computers, you need to make sure the Workgroup is setup the same as on your Ubuntu computers. To learn how to do this, check out this tutorial: How to Change the Workgroup in Windows 7.
You can enable sharing in Ubuntu (or any Linux PC) and configure it to join a Windows Workgroup in order to be visible on the same network and share files, folders, and printers. If you want to know more about setting up other PC's on a local network, or how to further utilize the networking features between Linux and Windows 7, check out the articles listed below.