Eric Stewart: Running Off At The Mouth

Gnome, Winbind (Samba), and Wierd Characters

by Eric Stewart on May.29, 2008, under Computers, Networking, Technology

I’m going to make reference briefly to an “unposted blog” – a situation I ran into on an Active Directory enabled Mac running Leopard (10.5). I could log in using my AD account, but mapping drives wouldn’t work – it would hang bad. If I got my password wrong, I’d be told it was wrong. Get it right, and it’d hang. Turns out the culprit in this was the % (percent sign) I had in my password. Resetting my password to not include that fixed the problem.

So it was that I started playing with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 using VMWare Fusion on a Mac Pro I acquired at work. I wanted to see how easy it would be to mimic the AD integration I can do with Macs. I had used Winbind (a part of the Samba server) for account enumeration before, but hadn’t gone as far as to use it with actual logging in (only mapping drives, and certainly not home directories).

I set my template homedir to: /home/%U – looking at the man page now, I see that there’s a better plan there, but let’s ignore the default for the time being. That worked fine, but there wasn’t the designation of the Domain that I was hoping for. So I set it to:


The domain, winbind separator, and username. Well, this worked – after monkeying with it, I got it to create my new home directory on login …

However, there’s an issue that pops up. The default winbind separator is backslash. This is a tricky character in Unix and Linux operating systems – it’s an “escape” character, meaning that if you want something to actually see the backslash, you usually have to do two of them in a row. If you want certain file operations to operate on a filename with a space in it, you need to put a backslash in front of the space so that it’s interpreted properly. So, I change the winbind separator to a +, as per the example in the man page for smb.conf.

Here’s where it gets weird.

All of a sudden when I log in to Gnome (one of many Linux GUIs, and the default on RHEL), it doesn’t let me change any settings (background image, Terminal colors, nothing). Gives me errors such as “application attempted to change some aspect of your configuration”. Hinting at permissions, or possibly a file missing, it starts to look like some of my default Gnome settings are not being established in my home directory – so I’m unable to change them to something different.

The culprit, after a day of Googling and reasoning, is the + sign. Gnome doesn’t like it in filenames or paths, apparently.


Hi! Did you get all the way down here and not find an answer to your question? The two preferred options for contacting me are:
  • Twitter: Just start your Twitter message with @BotFodder and I'll respond to it when I see it.
  • Reply to the post: Register (if you haven't already) on the site, submit your question as a comment to the blog post, and I'll reply as a comment.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.