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1.3.3 Network File System (NFS) or file distribution?

Probably the first thing you are interested in doing with a network (after you've had your fill of the world wide web) is to make your files available to some or all hosts on the network, no matter where in your corporate empire (or university dungeon) you might be sitting. In other words, if you have a disk which is physically connected to host A, you would like to make the contents of that disk available to hosts B, C, D... etc. NFS (the network filesystem) does this for you. The process works by `filesystems'.

A filesystem is one partition of a disk drive -- or one unit of disk space which can be accessed by a single `logical device' `/dev/something'. To make a filesystem available to other hosts you have to do three things.

Only after all three of these have been done will a filesystem become available across the network. Cfagent will help you with the last two in a very transparent way. You could also use the text-editing facility in cfagent to edit the exports file, but there are other ways update the exports file using netgroups which we shall not go into here. If you are in doubt, look up the manual page on exports.

Some sites prefer to minimize the use of NFS filesystems, to avoid one machine being dependent on another. They prefer to make a local copy of the files on a remote machine instead. Traditionally programs like rdist have been used for this purpose. You may also use cfagent to copy files in this way, See section 6.2.1 Remote file distribution.


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