Linux file server help

I have three former Windows machines, each running a different distro of Linux (Debian, Mandriva, and Suse). They are networked to the other machines in my home: two WinXPs, a Win2K server, and an iMac (don't ask how I got all this stuff; let's just say it was the only thing I took away from a bad business experience). I got the Linux boxes installed, and I can get onto the Web, but I can't see the other machines on my own SOHO network, nor can the other machines see the Linux boxes. I only want to use these boxes as backup file servers. I know there must be some kind of Samba problem, but I'm a fish out of water when it comes to Linux. Is there anyone out there who can walk me through this, or is there a resource I can make use of to get through this admittedly simple problem? Thanks!


Disparate I.T.

Sounds like the classic problem of managing disparate I.T.

disparate (adjective):
1. Fundamentally different or distinct in quality or kind.
2. Composed of or including markedly dissimilar elements.

Step 1:
Install a Samba Server on all your Linux boxes.
Now the windows boxes can "see" them.

Step 2:
Setup shares on the Linux boxes (and vice versa) that you want to use between "worlds" and restart smb.

Step 3:
Make sure you use static IP addresses so you know which machine is which, and setup sshd on all your linux boxes. Perhaps consider using a system to keep IDs and Passwords the same on all your boxes. I.E. NIS and NFS, or Samba, or OpenLDAP with a Windows Domain Controller. Using OpenLDAP, the Windows domain controller is the "master." I'm sure the best way (unless you happen to have a copy of XP server) would be to use a samba server as the "master" and point your windows and linux boxes to it for their ID/password information. I'm not sure how to do this, but with some reading it should be relatively painless.

Step 4:
If your goal is mainly to "backup" your Windows boxes to Linux, then consider installing an rsync server on your windows boxes.
Install this software, and setup IDs and passwords for it, then you can create backup "rsync" scripts on your master linux box to synchronize data from "all" your machines nightly.

Step 5:
For windows connectivity to your linux platform, install Cygwin: and Cygwin/X:
This will allow you to connect and run programs on your linux servers from you windows machines...there is a tutorial on this I wrote on our education pages.

Step 6:
Install VNC servers on your windows boxes so you can run the windows boxes from your Linux boxes.

Step 7:
Consider yourself the master of your network domain and run everything from a single computer. Laugh maniacally that you have complete control of all that you touch!

maniacally (adverb):
1. Suggestive of or afflicted with insanity or frenzy.
2. Characterized by excessive enthusiasm or excitement.