Chapter 23: Network File System (NFS)

Chapter 23: Network File System (NFS)

In this chapter, you will

  • Gain an understanding of NFS client/server architecture

  • Configure a NFS server

  • Configure a NFS client

  • Share file systems

  • Mount remote file systems

In this chapter we examine Sun’s Network File System (NFS), which is a distributed file system architecture based on the remote procedure call (RPC) protocol. RPC is a standard method of allocating and managing shared resources between Solaris systems. Although NFS is similar to Samba in concept, supporting transparent file system sharing between systems, NFS features high data throughput because of dedicated support in the Solaris kernel, and support for both NFS 2 and 3 clients.

NFS was one of the first distributed network applications to ever be successfully deployed on local area networks. It allows users to mount volumes of other systems connected to the network, with the same ability to change permissions, delete and create files, and apply security measures as any other locally mounted file system. One of the great advantages of NFS is its efficient use of network bandwidth, achieved by using RPCs (remote procedure calls). In Solaris 9, the NFS concept has been extended to the Internet, with the new WebNFS providing file system access through a URL similar to that used for web pages. In this section, we will examine the theory behind distributed file systems and examine how they can best be established in practice.

Prior to Solaris 2.5, NFS 2 was deployed, which used the unreliable UDP protocol for data transfer—hence NFS 2’s poor reputation for data integrity. However, the more modern NFS 3 protocol, based around TCP, is now implemented in all new Solaris releases. NFS 3 allows an NFS server to cache NFS client requests in RAM, speeding up disk writing operations and the overall speed of NFS transactions. In addition, Solaris 2.6 and onwards provide support for a new type of NFS called WebNFS. The WebNFS protocol allows file systems to be shared across the Internet, as an alternative to traditional Internet file-sharing techniques like FTP. In addition, initial testing has shown that Sun’s WebNFS server has greater bandwidth than a traditional web server, meaning that it might one day replace the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) as the web standard for transferring data.

Part I: Solaris 9 Operating Environment, Exam I