Master Browser problems in mixed Win2K, XP, Linux environment

Posted on 2005-04-29
Last Modified: 2010-08-05
We have a small company here with about 20 PCs / Linux boxes. No Domain, just peer-2-peer. Everyone is on the same workgroup ("WORKGROUP"). We have had some very flaky behaviour with people no longer seeing each other in My Network Places (from XP/pro or 2000/pro or linux/Samba for that matter).

I have seen in the past, when running BROWSTAT STATUS that someone would bring in a laptop which then would become the master browser. That person would go away, and we'd have problems. In that case I'd flush that browser (BROWSTAT TICKLE transport WORKGROUP) which seemed to work. Then I'd change the registry settings on that laptop to prevent it from being the master browser.

I have also seen on linux boxes, that when they, in smb.conf, are set to be a preferred master browser, the windows boxes don't see each other.

Now something called LOCALHOST is the master browser and I can't find where it is. No one can see each other (except by searching by computer for the IP address).

When I run browstat status on a win2k box, it says that the master browser is LOCALHOST, but
"Could not connect to registry, error = 53
Unable to determine build of browser master: 53"

That box however does see all the computers on the network, including one called LOCALHOST, whose info says it is running SAMBA.

Any ideas on getting things back to normal?

Question by:deanabb
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    Linux  and win2k both use DNS for network browsing.  Setup a win2k server or install DNS daemon on a linux box. Have primary DNS of all the workstations be the IP of the DNS server. The secondary IP should be DNS server from your ISP. e.g

    for info on DNS

    If you have the cababilty, a wins server would also suffice.  
    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    ^ what he said.

    DNS will fix your problems.

    Also, localhost means the computer you are working from.  Is your "computer browser" service running on that machine?  

    Author Comment

    Thanks for the replies. I don't think DNS is the answer for two reasons:

    1) from the command prompt, I can ping "NEWDATA" for example, and it responds, but it doesn't show up in the MS Windows Network listing.  
    2) When I search for a computer by name ("NEWDATA" for example), I find it. That tells me that DNS works, but the way windows populates My Network Places does not work.

    Sorry if my IP address comment was misleading--I often search by IP address just to eliminate that possible problem, but in the case here, it isn't a problem.

    We do not have a WINS server set up, and I like that possible solution. (I'll look into that Monday). But I'm sure that the problem is not DNS related. I suspect it is Master Browser related. Of course I don't know the answer, which is why I'm asking y'all. :)

    Hopefully that helps explain what's going on more. Thanks again for the replies.

    Oh, and yes I know that the machine I was testing on is "LOCALHOST", but there is another machine on the network that apparently is broadcasting as "LOCALHOST" (I see it when I search for computers on the network, and it comes up as "LOCALHOST"  with comment "Samba Server", so I suspect it is a linus box, not the Win2K box I was running BROWSTAT from.  Whether or not that is the same one that is the current master browser, I don't know.
    LVL 5

    Accepted Solution

    The DNS is mainly for the hostname to IP address translation.  Thay way you can ping by name and IP.
    Network browsing is a differnt matter.

    Its based on an  election where the version of windows (or linux) is weighted to be the determining factor in who is the "master browser".  When one opens up network neighborhood, the browsing service quieries the master browser and populates network  neighborhood. Now linux by default annouces itself as version 4.5, win2k and xp are ver 5 and 5.1.  In one of the links below there is info on changing that.  Set the browser master settiing  to NO on computers that keep focring elections. Although, if you had a server or had a computer with a higher version it would not matter if  elections are forced as the server would always win.

    Also, network neighborhood is not a prefered way of browsing for resources.

    i usually just go to

    start->run,  and type  \\computerName

    the info pops right up.

    localhost is another name for the computer.  
    try pinging localhost, you will get the loopback ip address

    open              it is in fact your computer, same with http://localhost
    Unless, someone named the computer localhost which is unlikely.  

    Configuring LM annouce

    How Samba handles browsing tasks.
    LVL 8

    Expert Comment

    Sounds like samba has become the browse master (the computer that maintains the browse list, ie what you see listed in network neighborhood).  Every time a computer is booted up, there is a browser election that occurs.

    Microsoft Articles on Browsing:;en-us;188305

    I haven't any experience with samba, but jjk16 provided a link to info for it.

    In the past I usually try to setup the servers to be the ONLY ones to maintain the browse list, it was accomplished via a registry key entry.

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