In Nautilus I can connect to Windows shares using 'Connect to', but I can't browse to them in the network area. They don't show up. My Linux samba shares show up, but not the windows machines.
What's the reason and how can I fix that?
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None of the computers in your network is configured to use lan manager announcement.
This is where one computer on the network enumerates all available shares and then broadcasts them for other Samba clients to read.
It is fine to have more than one computer do it but if none of them are configured to do it you can't browse shares.
There's an article here that describes Samba options:
Alternatively, you can configure the Windows Share protocol on one of your Windows computers to enable Lan Manager protocol.