[clug] Super Dumb question. Network filesystems: NFS, CIFS and ???

Daniel Pittman daniel at rimspace.net
Fri Apr 23 22:45:52 MDT 2010

steve jenkin <sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au> writes:

> Sorry to post such a blitheringly stupid question [hope it amuses some].
> What are the non-raw filesystems available over the network?
> [specifically over ethernet Layer 2 or IP layer 3]
> [specifically not 'raw' methods like iSCSI or DAFS]
>  - Sun's NFS. An oldie, but goldie, modulo bugs/slowness
>  - CIFS/SMB. The one we love to hate :-)
>  - and ???
> I presume Apple has something, but unique to their closed world.

AppleTalk, in a range of varieties.

> Plan 9 made a brave attempt at world unification/domination in 1989/90.
> Seems to have gone nowhere/hibernation...

Like many experimental things, it had some great outcomes, none of which are
real-world products that you and I are going to use daily.

> Andrew File System (AFS) - been around for ages, but have never bumped
> into it. More about sharing local disks than accessing shared storage.

...not even close: AFS is pretty much the only serious large-scale filesystem
out there; it goes well beyond most of the competition in terms of

You don't run into it much because it you need to bring up Kerberos, at least
one, often two, dedicated servers, it owns the disk storage entirely, it isn't
a POSIX filesystem[1], and you have to build the kernel side on most

That puts a pretty steep barrier in front of using it, and unless you have
thousands of users the cost probably isn't justified.

> Google's File System - proprietary isn't it?

More or less, though clones exist.  Mostly useless outside specialized data
processing applications; it (intentionally) isn't a general purpose file
storage system.

> In this world of metadata and interesting filesystems, I thought there might
> be new ones in relatively common use I was missing.

Lots and lots of experimental ones, but nothing really popular.  In the two
you first list, plus AppleTalk, plus AFS in the places it runs, you have more
or less covered the field.


[1]  No hard links, ACLs per folder rather than per file, and a few other
✣ Daniel Pittman            ✉ daniel at rimspace.net            ☎ +61 401 155 707
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