When Mac OSX SMB Connections Fail

Earlier today I had a problem with some Macs that could not establish SMB connections to our Windows File Server. There was no quick error, so the problem really “felt” like a firewall issue but strangely I was able to make a CLI connection to the file server using smbclient:

smbclient //server/share -U domain/username
Domain=[DOMAIN] OS=[Windows Server x] Server=[Windows Server x]
smb: \> exit

I started thinking that perhaps the Mac was doing NETBIOS name lookups and that nmbd might be knocking on the firewall. Turns out this was the problem. Opening up the following ports on the Windows File Server did the trick:

SMB uses ports:
UDP 137 (NETBIOS Name Service)
UDP 138 (NETBIOS Datagram Service)
TCP/UDP 139 (NETBIOS Session Service)

WARNING: Only open these ports to your trusted networks. Statistical data indicates that UDP ports 135 – 139 and TCP port 137 – 139 are amongst the most commonly scanned ports on remote computers.

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