Tridgell told iTWire yesterday on the sidelines of the 12th Australian national Linux conference in Brisbane that the move from Samba 3 to 4 was the biggest shift in the development of the software.
When it is complete, Samba will offer enterprise customers - 80 percent of whom use Active Directory for authentication - the freedom to choose a non-Windows server environment and yet enjoy all the benefits of Active Directory.
At the moment, there are alpha releases of Samba 4 which have been going on since September 2007.
Tridgell said there would be no formal beta release. Once the transition had been made, a production release would be made. At the moment, the Samba team's advice was that the software available was not suitable for use on production.
However, Tridgell (pictured left with Bartlett) said that about two dozen sites were running on Samba 4 and had encountered no problems.
"We get good feedback from these two dozen deployments. There is lots of testing going on and every deployment provides good feedback. We are hopeful of a release this year," Tridgell said.
"Knowing that we are that much closer really does lighten one's mood," Bartlett said. "It's been a long time, we've been working on it for many years."
Samba 4 is indeed an ambitious project. Last year, the project changed around 1.2 million lines of code and made something like 11,000 commits in the two ongoing projects, Samba 3 and Samba 4.
Bartlett said the arrival of Samba 4 would break the desktop monopoly because having Windows desktops would finally mean that one was not dependent on Microsoft for the server-side arrangements.
Under an agreement made in December 2007, Microsoft has to provide details about every one of its network protocols which are used to work with Windows Server to a newly formed body, the Protocol Freedom Information Foundation.
Tridgell and Bartlett pay regular visits to Redmond to discuss interoperability as part of this agreement and they have done so last year as well.
"When we signed the agreement in 2007, the documentation was very good and the people involved at Microsoft showed a great deal of willingness to co-operate," Tridgell said. "They continue to be extremely willing to fix deficiencies and anything that is lacking."
The Samba team has three face-to-face meetings every year towards getting inter-interoperability happening.