GNUcash and CIFS Protocol Error

In a bit of a break from the usually dull and boring posts of photographs, I thought I’d produce a dull and boring post about a fix for an odd technical problem. Precisely because this is a bit odd, this page might be found by someone looking for a fix…

If you run GNUcash, the Free and Open Source Financial Management package, then well done you – great choice. However, if you ever see a weird error from it, specifically:

“No suitable backend was found for file { my GNUcash data file }”

– then one possible explanation could exist if the file you are trying to access is placed on a network drive, and if you are attempting to access it via the CIFS (Server Message Block, or SMBFS/SAMBA) network file system protocol.

Despite the fact that it should not be the case, it transpires that GNUcash is somewhat sensitive to differences between the two protocols. The gurus at GNUcash tell me that CIFS does not properly implement certain aspects of the file locking part of the protocol, as a result of which the actual program may fail to open the data file. Because the error message is ever-so-slightly confusing, it seemed to be a good idea to post up a short explanation in the hope that search engines will spider it and it will be of useful to someone else…

Their recommended solution [if it is available to you] is to replace the CIFS network file system protocol with NFS, which, unlike CIFS, does respect and support the relevant file locking required by GNUcash.

Here’s hoping!