Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

Setting up an NFS Server for Multiple Clients

Ubuntu 20

In today’s data-driven world, sharing and accessing files across multiple systems has become a necessity. Network File System (NFS) is a distributed file system protocol that allows a user on a client computer to access files over a network in a manner similar to how local storage is accessed. In this article, we will guide you through the process of setting up an NFS server for multiple clients.

Quick Answer

Setting up an NFS server for multiple clients involves configuring the NFS exports on the server and mounting the NFS shares on the client systems. By following this guide, you will be able to share files across multiple systems using NFS.

What is NFS?

NFS, or Network File System, is a server-client protocol used for sharing files over a network. Developed by Sun Microsystems, NFS allows a system to share directories and files with others over a network. By using NFS, users and programs can access files on remote systems almost as if they were local files.

Prerequisites

Before we begin, make sure you have the following:

  • A Linux server and multiple client systems.
  • Root or sudo access on the server and client systems.
  • NFS utilities installed on all systems. If not, use the following command to install them:
sudo apt-get install nfs-common nfs-server -y

Step 1: Configuring the NFS Server

The first step in setting up an NFS server for multiple clients is to configure the NFS exports on the server. This is done in the /etc/exports file.

The /etc/exports File

The /etc/exports file controls which file systems are exported to remote hosts and specifies options. It follows the syntax:

/path/to/share client1(option1,option2) client2(option1,option2)

Here, /path/to/share is the directory that you want to share and client1 and client2 are the IP addresses or hostnames of the clients. The options include rw for read-write access, ro for read-only access, sync for synchronous access, and async for asynchronous access.

For example, if you want to share the /home directory with two clients 192.168.1.10 and 192.168.1.20 with read-write and read-only access respectively, the entry in /etc/exports would look like this:

/home 192.168.1.10(rw,sync) 192.168.1.20(ro,sync)

Exporting the Shares

After configuring the /etc/exports file, export the shares using the exportfs command:

sudo exportfs -a

This command exports all directories listed in /etc/exports.

Step 2: Configuring the NFS Clients

After setting up the NFS server, the next step is to mount the NFS shares on the client systems.

Mounting the NFS Shares

To mount the NFS share on a client system, use the mount command:

sudo mount server:/path/to/share /path/to/local/directory

Here, server is the IP address or hostname of the NFS server, /path/to/share is the directory shared by the NFS server, and /path/to/local/directory is the local directory where you want to mount the NFS share.

For example, to mount the /home directory shared by the NFS server at 192.168.1.1 to the local directory /mnt/home on a client system, use the following command:

sudo mount 192.168.1.1:/home /mnt/home

Automating the Mount at Boot

To automate the mount at boot, add an entry in the /etc/fstab file on the client system:

server:/path/to/share /path/to/local/directory nfs defaults 0 0

Conclusion

Setting up an NFS server for multiple clients involves configuring the NFS exports on the server and mounting the NFS shares on the client systems. By following this guide, you should be able to share files across multiple systems using NFS. For more information on NFS, refer to the NFS man page.

What is the purpose of an NFS server?

An NFS server allows users on client computers to access files over a network in a manner similar to how local storage is accessed. It enables file sharing between systems.

Can I set up an NFS server on a Windows system?

No, NFS is primarily used in Linux and Unix environments. However, there are third-party applications available that allow NFS functionality on Windows systems.

Do I need root or sudo access to set up an NFS server?

Yes, root or sudo access is required on both the server and client systems to install NFS utilities and configure the necessary files.

How do I install NFS utilities on a Linux system?

You can install NFS utilities on a Linux system using the following command:

sudo apt-get install nfs-common nfs-server -y
What is the purpose of the /etc/exports file?

The /etc/exports file controls which file systems are exported to remote hosts and specifies options for sharing directories. It lists the directories to be shared and the access permissions for each client.

How do I mount an NFS share on a client system?

To mount an NFS share on a client system, use the following command:

sudo mount server:/path/to/share /path/to/local/directory

Replace "server" with the IP address or hostname of the NFS server, "/path/to/share" with the shared directory, and "/path/to/local/directory" with the local directory where you want to mount the share.

Can I automate the mount of NFS shares at boot?

Yes, you can automate the mount of NFS shares at boot by adding an entry in the /etc/fstab file on the client system. The entry should specify the NFS server, shared directory, local directory, and mount options.

Where can I find more information on NFS?

For more information on NFS and its configuration options, refer to the NFS man page by running man nfs in the terminal or visit the NFS man page online.

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