Access Windows / Samba / NAS network drives on your Arnova G3 with our CIFS package

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INTRODUCTION

Target of this tutorial is to explain how to mount NAS, Samba (SMB) or Windows network shared drives on the Arnova G3 Android ICS tablets. It uses the CIFS kernel modules, which are unfortunately not provided “by default” on many existing tablet firmwares.

Several softwares or file manager extensions offered on “Google Play Store” do provide their own SMB implementations (examples: AndSMB, Astro, File Manager HD, …), but they may not be compatible with all devices, and especially with all types of shared drives. At least with my Arnova 10b G3 and my old Samba/Linux drive, they don’t work properly. Thus I wanted to get a more generic and “kernel based” solution, in order to allow all my tablet applications to gain a transparent access to my network shared drives! 🙂

Last but not least, as many of you like to get their own local specific characters and accents, a correct UTF8 implementation is requested to display and access all files and directories.

REQUIREMENTS

  • An Arnova G3 tablet with Android ICS, root access (superuser) and a writable /system partition (most custom firmwares provide all this)
  • Latest version of Arctools installed, offering CIFS kernel modules installation.
  • CIFS Manager” software, available on “Google Play Store”.
  • A NAS, Samba (SMB) or Windows network shared drive, with UTF8 support properly activated.

INSTALLATION

1) Arctools CIFS Modules

If not already done, download and install the latest version of Arctools on “Appslib”.

Go to Arctools “Apps Install” page, download and install Arnova G3 CIFS Modules.

In order to verify the modules installation, go to the Arctools Tools page, and press on the CIFS icon under “Drivers and Services”, at the bottom of the screen:

If everything works fine, you should get the icon stripe turning green:

Now you can leave Arctools and go to the next step. Please note that, from now, we will handle to CIFS kernel modules through the CIFS Manager software, so you should not have to use Arctools anymore for that purpose.

2) CIFS Manager

Download and install CIFS Manager software, available on “Google Play Store”.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ws.plattner.cifsmanager

Launch CIFS Manager. DO NOT press “Add New Share” yet. Go to the option page by pressing on the 3 dots at the bottom of the screen (see red circle):

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You will get the CIFS Manager general configuration page.

First remove the “Mount point prefix” default value (leave it empty) : We will use absolute paths in the network shared drive configuration. Then activate “Load cifs module” and “Load via insmod” as described. Finally update “Path to cifs.ko” with the following sentence:

“/system/lib/modules/cifs.ko; insmod /system/lib/modules/md4.ko; insmod /system/lib/modules/nls_utf8.ko”

Warning: The first module path & file does NOT have an “insmod” in front of it. It will be added by the CIFS Manager software.

Now go back to the main screen and press “Add New Share”. Then fill-in all parameters with the requested info:

– Share Path: Put your remote NAS/Computer IP address and the shared directory, separated by a “/”. Check carefully on your server how the path is set (relative/absolute).

– Mount Point: Place to mount the shared directory on your tablet. “/mnt/cifs/[dir_name]” is the standard place, but you may better use “/mnt/sdcard/[dir_name]” if you whish to access easily the shared drive from your main User directory.

– Username & Password: Put the needed info… I haven’t got the opportunity to test a remote shared drives with “anonymous” access. Just try “anonymous” in the Username field…

– Options: “iocharset=utf8” and “nounix” have to be set, separated by a “;”. The latest one prevents any potential file access issue due to specific CIFS extensions available on a UNIX share. If you still get no file access, you may use “noperm” instead of “nounix”. More info can be found on: http://linux.die.net/man/8/mount.cifs.

Press “Save Share” and go back to the main CIFS Manager menu.

Then press once on the newly created shared drive. If everything goes fine :), you should get a nice green dot to the right:

If not :(, then you will get a red one (or just the grey one):

In case of shared drive mounting failure, an error will be displayed on the screen. If it says something like “no such file or device”, most probably the CIFS kernel modules are not working correctly, or there is an error in the “Options” parameters line.

You may also perform on long press on the shared drive which will bring you the following menu (depending on the mounting status, some options may be different or greyed out):

When you finally get the green dot, just leave CIFS Manager and launch to your favourite file manager. Mine is “File Manager” (with or w/o HD) from Rhythm Software. Check that your mounted shared drive is working properly, especially if the local specific characters / accents are correctly displayed. Try to open directories & files to also check permissioning aspects.

IMPORTANT NOTE

As the CIFS kernel modules are not part of your firmware image, each time you turn off/on your tablet, you need to reinsert the modules and mount the network shared drive. No need to go through Arctools. Just launch CIFS Manager, press once on your shared drive line, and leave CIFS Manager.

A solution for automatic CIFS kernel modules insertion at boot, and automatic network shared drive mounting has to be worked out. To be continued… 🙂