Set up an NFS server

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NFS is Sun Microsystems' Network File System. It was the industry standard in networked file-systems for a time, and is still in use. Linux systems can export directories via an NFS server, or mount directories exported by other NFS servers. nfs is as easy to use as to abuse; it lacks almost all modern security features. For most uses it is far more advisable to use samba instead.

Your NFS shares are configured in /etc/exports. To see all NFS exports of a server localhost, use

showmount -e localhost

Set up an NFS server

You want to share folders of your computer in the network. So, your computer plays the role of the NFS server. The network drives are exported by the server, that's how NFS calls it. The following is an example how you get a folder /public that is shared in your network. It uses SUSE Linux 10, but the process for other distributions should be similar. It will last about 10 minutes. We use server as hostname for the computer exporting directories.

To do this,

mkdir /public
  • Edit /etc/exports, add the line
/public/   *(rw,no_root_squash,sync)
  • Start the NFS-Server:
/etc/init.d/nfs-user-server start || /etc/init.d/nfsserver start

This command makes sure your nfs server gets started, no matter if your distribution names its startup script "nfs-user-server" or "nfsserver".

Verify the result

Issue on your computer: showmount -e 127.0.0.1. The result will be like this:

Export list for 127.0.0.1:
/public *

By this command, you can see that a share /public is available on your computer, so it is an NFS-Server.

Use the network drive

To use the network drive on a client computer, go there and try if you can reach the NFS server:

ping server

Mount the server's export to (as an example) /mnt/nfs

mkdir -p /mnt/nfs
mount server:/public /mnt/nfs

You can make this mount persistant by using the fstab.