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20.1 Distributed File Systems

20.1.1 The Network File System

The Network File System, was developed by Sun Microsystems and is licensed to many vendors. It allows the sharing of file systems and directories, and provides a common login environment regardless of the network machine on which you login. It's a service that is designed to be machine independent and transparent to the user.

NFS uses remote procedure calls (RPC) through the external data representation protocol (XDR) to communicate between machines. The user doesn't have to know any of the details. When things are working properly local and remote file systems will appear as one big local file system to the user.

The major functions of NFS are mount/export directories from/to other computers, on/off your local network, so that they can be accessed as if they were local. An NFS client can mount files systems from more than one NFS server. These mounts are done through the ethernet. The NFS server does not maintain state information about it's clients open files; this must be done by the client. The server program is small and efficient, while the client program has to do most of the work.

NFS supports diskless workstation booting and automounting, and allows you to mount NFS directories on top of other NFS directories.

Unix System Administration - 8 AUG 1996
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