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Managing NFS and NIS, 2nd Edition by Hal Stern, Ricardo Labiaga, Mike Eisler

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Chapter 6. System Administration Using the Network File System

The Network File System (NFS) is a distributed filesystem that provides transparent access to remote disks. Just as NIS allows you to centralize administration of user and host information, NFS allows you to centralize administration of disks. Instead of duplicating common directories such as /usr/local on every system, NFS provides a single copy of the directory that is shared by all systems on the network. To a host running NFS, remote filesystems are indistinguishable from local ones. For the user, NFS means that he or she doesn't have to log into other systems to access files. There is no need to use rcp or tapes to move files onto the local system. Once NFS has been set up properly, users should be able to do all their work on their local system; remote files (data and executables) will appear to be local to their own system. NFS and NIS are frequently used together: NIS makes sure that configuration information is propagated to all hosts, and NFS ensures that the files a user needs are accessible from these hosts.

NFS is also built on the RPC protocol and imposes a client-server relationship on the hosts that use it. An NFS server is a host that owns one or more filesystems and makes them available on the network; NFS clients mount filesystems from one or more servers. This follows the normal client-server model where the server owns a resource that is used by the client. In the case of NFS, the resource is ...

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