Samba Server on Android Media Player


I recently bought an Android-based media player: the Minix Neo X5. It came with the original firmware, which had issues playing the MTS video files that my digital camera produces, so I promptly upgrade to the latest ver 011 of the firmware. That solved the MTS playback issue, but the firmware itself was not very stable and hang quite frequently. So I promptly installed Clockmod Recovery, followed by the CWM version of Finless V1.2b. Now everything is fast and stable!

Next, I needed an SMB server on the media player so that I can manage its content from other PCs in the house. Surprisingly this turned out to be harder than I thought given the hackish nature of Android.

SambaDroid was quite easy to install and work with. Unfortunately, it does not support files > 2GB in size. This is quite a major limitation given than many media files these days are > 2GB in size.

Samba Server turned out to be a dud. Despite having root access, I couldn't set it up so that it is accessible by other Windows PCs. I even performed some registry hacks to enable legacy NTLM without any success.

I had partial success with Samba Filesharing (V1.0.6) and it supports files > 2GB, but I could only get it to work occasionally after a lot of coxing. Turns out it does not yet support Jelly Bean, so the app crashes the other 99% of the time, even with the samba-rc hack.

With no other candidates to try, I tried hacking into Samba Filesharing to see if I can make it work better with JB. Armed with adb shell,  I found that the Android version of smbd and nmbd are found under /data/data/com.funkyfresh.samba/files and can be started by running:

> sh ./samba-rc restart

But the app itself interfered with the operation of the daemons. Perhaps it is trying to control them and ended up crashing/killing the daemons. Anyway, the conclusion is that there is a fully working version of Samba included with the app. It's the app itself that is incompatible with JB. The app is a wrapper that receives events so that it can start smbd and nmbd when the network is up, and kill the daemons upon user request or when the network goes down.

So what I ended doing was:

1. Install and configure Samba Filesharing. This properly configures samba-rc and smb.conf.

2. Perform adb pull /data/data/com.funkyfresh.samba/files. Then update samba-rc by adding a single line.

3. Uninstall Samba Filesharing. This gets rid of the app itself so that it does not interfere with the daemons.

4. Manually create /data/data/com.funkyfresh.samba/files via adb shell.

5. Zip up the files and upload via adb push. The zipping is necessary because adb push can only handle individual files. Then adb shell and unzip.

6. Perform chmod 0777 samba-rc smbd nmbd.

Then I try to manually execute sh ./samba-rc restart. This started the smbd and nmbd daemons and I was able to connect to the shares from another machine.

Now this left the problem of running the script when the machine starts up, after the network interface is brought up. The simplest way I found was to use Script Manager. There are probably other ways (eg. via DHCP hooks), but I am lazy and went with the simplest method that worked.

I am sure Samba Filesharing will eventually be updated to support JB fully. There is a very active thread here on xda-developers for this purpose. But in the mean time, if Samba Filesharing does not work directly on your device yet, I hope my experience here is of some help to get it working on yours.

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