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Table Of Contents  The TCP/IP Guide
 9  TCP/IP Application Layer Protocols, Services and Applications (OSI Layers 5, 6 and 7)
      9  Network File and Resource Sharing Protocols and the TCP/IP Network File System (NFS)

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Overview of File and Resource Sharing Protocol Concepts and Operation
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NFS Overview, History, Versions and Standards
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TCP/IP Network File System (NFS)

File and resource sharing protocols are important because they let users seamlessly share files over a network. Due to the dominance of Microsoft operating systems in the industry, many people are familiar with the way Microsoft Networking can be used in this way. However, Microsoft is somewhat of a “Johnny come lately” to file sharing protocols. Long before Microsoft Windows even existed, the Network File System (NFS) was letting users share files over a network using the UNIX operating system.

In this section, I provide a brief look at the operation of NFS. I begin with an overview and history of the protocol, and discussion of its common versions and standards. I describe the architecture of NFS and the three components that comprise it. I then describe the NFS file system model, and how data is encoded using the External Data Representation (XDR) standard. I explain the client/server operation of NFS using Remote Procedure Calls (RPCs). I then list the procedures and operations used in NFS, and conclude with a description of the separate NFS Mount protocol, used to attach network resources to a device.

Note: As I said above, NFS was originally developed specifically for the UNIX operating system, and is still most closely associated with UNIX. As with all protocol descriptions, I have attempted to keep my discussion of NFS “OS-independent” as much as possible, but in some places in this section, it is not entirely possible.


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