NFS Illustrated

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Addison-Wesley Professional, 2000 - Computers - 513 pages
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The Network File System (NFS) protocol that enables remote access to files is now a key element of any LAN. It is also currently and increasingly used as a key technology with the Web and wide area networks.

Written for programmers creating NFS-based applications, network engineers creating new implementations of NFS, and network managers, NFS Illustrated promotes a thorough understanding of that protocol through extensive diagrams and real protocol traces that show NFS in action. Covering NFS versions 2 and 3, the book also looks into WebNFS and the new NFS version 4, with Internet support. Detailed and authoritative, the book not only examines NFS in depth, but also describes the protocols that underlie and support it, including External Data Representation (XDR), Remote Procedure Call (RPC), the NFS MOUNT protocol, and the NFS Lock Manager protocol. It discusses several NFS variants and compares NFS to a number of alternative file systems.

You will find a detailed discussion on the NFS filesystem model and a procedure-by-procedure description of NFS versions 2 and 3, illustrated through the use of snoop traces that capture and display protocol packets from the network. In addition, the book addresses real-world implementation issues faced by those building an NFS client or server, factors that affect NFS performance, and critical performance benchmarks.

Specific topics of interest include:

  • NFS version 4, highlighting performance improvements, security features, and cross-platform interoperability for Internet operation
  • RPC authentication and security
  • Differences between NFS versions 2 and 3
  • Implementation issues for clients and servers
  • Read-ahead and write-behind
  • Caching policies
  • The Lock Manager protocol
  • Automounting
  • NFS variants, including Spritely NFS, NQNFS, Trusted NFS, and NASD NFS
  • NFS competitors: RFS, AFS, DCE/DFS, and CIFS
  • The PCNFS protocol for implementing NFS on PC operating systems
  • SPEC SFS benchmarks, WebNFS, and firewalls

Comprehensive and current, NFS Illustrated is an essential resource for network professionals who want to use this widespread and evolving technology to its fullest.


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Started reading a week back, not dedicating much time as it deserves, but so far the book is pretty interesting, it's very informative with respect to discussing low level protocol communication, and what really happens behind the scenes, even the RPC requests and replies, and what they are supposed to look like during client/server communications.
It's very useful if you are planning to look at a network trace and being able to read it, and understand what kind of communications are going forth and back, but of course you must have a background of computer architecture, basic understanding of network protocols including but not limited to TCP/IP.


XDRExternal Data Representation
RPC Authentication
NFS Filesystem Model
NFS Version 2
NFS Version 3
NFS Implementation
NFS MOUNT Protocol
NFS Variants
Other Distributed Filesystems
NFS Benchmarks
NFS Version 4

NFS Lock Manager Protocol

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About the author (2000)

Brent Callaghan is a thirteen-year veteran of the Sun Microsystems NFS group. After completing the first automounter, he helped design NFS version 3, wrote the snoop network analysis program, and was the architect for WebNFS. He is currently working on NFS version 4 and is co-chair of the IETF working group.


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