From ArchWiki
Revision as of 18:22, 21 May 2015 by Richli (talk | contribs) (→‎Starting the server: Following the instructions didn't work for me until I did this)
Jump to navigation Jump to search


From Wikipedia:

Network File System (NFS) is a distributed file system protocol originally developed by Sun Microsystems in 1984, allowing a user on a client computer to access files over a network in a manner similar to how local storage is accessed.


Both client and server only require the installation of the nfs-utils package.

It is HIGHLY recommended to use a time sync daemon such as ntp on all nodes to keep client/server clocks in sync. Without accurate clocks on all nodes, NFS can introduce unwanted delays. The Network Time Protocol daemon is recommended to sync both the server and the clients to the highly accurate NTP servers available on the Internet.

Note: nfs-utils for Arch ARM starting with update 1.3.2-4 (possibly earlier) has been reported by one user to behave differently from the x86_64 or i686 package. See the discussion page for a recipe for client mounts.



NFS needs to see the list of shares (referred to as "exports" from here on out), which are defined in /etc/exports in order to serve-up the content. This can be any directory on the file system. In the interest of security, it is recommended to use an NFS export root which will keep users limited to that mount point only. The following example illustrates this concept.

Any NFS shares defined in /etc/exports are relative to the NFS root. In this example, the NFS root will be /srv/nfs4 and we are sharing /mnt/music.

# mkdir -p /srv/nfs4/music

Read/Write permissions must be set on the music directory so clients may write to it.

Now mount the actual target share, /mnt/music to the NFS share via the mount command:

# mount --bind /mnt/music /srv/nfs4/music

To make it stick across server reboots, add the bind mount to fstab:

/mnt/music /srv/nfs4/music  none   bind   0   0
Note: ZFS filesystems require special handling of bindmounts, see ZFS#Bindmount.

Add directories to be shared and an ip address or hostname(s) of client machines that will be allowed to mount them in exports:

/srv/nfs4/music,no_subtree_check,nohide) # note the nohide option which is applied to mounted directories on the file system.

Users need-not open the share to the entire subnet; one can specify a single IP address or hostname as well.

For more information about all available options see man 5 exports.

Note: Modifying /etc/exports while the server is running will require a re-export for changes to take effect as noted by the upstream comments in /etc/exports:
# exportfs -rav

Starting the server

Start and enable nfs-server.service. The rpcbind.service is also needed for older V2 and V3 exports. To run a V4-only setup, be sure to explicitly disable V2 and V3 using [1]:

NFSD_OPTS="-N 2 -N 3"

otherwise the rpcbind.service is required.


Optional configuration

/etc/conf.d/nfs-server.conf holds optional configurations for options to pass to rpc.nfsd, rpc.mountd, or rpc.svcgssd. Users setting up a simple configuration may not need to edit this file.

Static ports for NFSv3

Users needing support for NFSv3 clients, may wish to consider using static ports. By default, for NFSv3 operation rpc.statd and lockd use random ephemeral ports; in order to allow NFSv3 operations through a firewall static ports need to be defined. Edit /etc/conf.d/nfs-common.conf to set STATD_OPTS:

STATD_OPTS="-p 32765 -o 32766 -T 32803"

The rpc.mountd should consult /etc/services and bind to the same static port 20048 under normal operation; however, if it needs to be explicity defined edit /etc/conf.d/nfs-server.conf to set MOUNTD_OPTS:

MOUNTD_OPTS="-p 20048"

After making these changes, several services need to be restarted; the first writes the configuration options out to /run/sysconfig/nfs-utils (see /usr/lib/systemd/scripts/, the second restarts rpc.statd with the new ports, the last reloads lockd (kernel module) with the new ports.

# systemctl restart nfs-config
# systemctl restart rpcbind
# systemctl restart rpc-statd
# systemctl restart nfs-server

After the restarts, use rpcinfo -p on the server to examine the static ports are as expected. Using rpcinfo -p <server IP> from the client should reveal the exact same static ports.

NFSv2 compatibility

Users needing to support clients using NFSv2 (for example U-Boot), should set NFSD_OPTS="-V 2" in /etc/conf.d/nfs-server.conf.

Firewall configuration

To enable access through a firewall, tcp and udp ports 111, 2049, and 20048 need to be opened when using the default configuration; use rpcinfo -p to examine the exact ports in use on the server. To configure this for iptables, execute this commands:

# iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 111 -j ACCEPT
# iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 2049 -j ACCEPT
# iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 20048 -j ACCEPT
# iptables -A INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 111 -j ACCEPT
# iptables -A INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 2049 -j ACCEPT
# iptables -A INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 20048 -j ACCEPT

To have this configuration load on every system start, edit /etc/iptables/iptables.rules to include the following lines:

-A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 111 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 2049 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 20048 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 111 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 2049 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 20048 -j ACCEPT

The previous commands can be saved by executing:

# iptables-save > /etc/iptables/iptables.rules
Note: This command will override the current iptables start configuration with the actual iptables configuration!

If using NFSv3 and the above listed static ports for rpc.statd and lockd these also need to be added to the configuration:

-A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 32765 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 32803 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 32765 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 32803 -j ACCEPT

To apply changes, Restart iptables.service.


Start rpcbind.service, and and enable them to start at boot.

Manual mounting

For NFSv3 use this command to show the server's exported file systems:

$ showmount -e servername

For NFSv4 mount the root NFS directory and look around for available mounts:

$ mount server:/ /mountpoint/on/client

Then mount omitting the server's NFS export root:

# mount -t nfs servername:/music /mountpoint/on/client

If mount fails try including the server's export root (required for Debian/RHEL/SLES, some distributions need -t nfs4 instead of -t nfs):

# mount -t nfs servername:/full/path/to/music /mountpoint/on/client
Note: Server name needs to be a valid hostname (not just IP address). Otherwise mounting of remote share will hang.

Mount using /etc/fstab

Using fstab is useful for a server which is always on, and the NFS shares are available whenever the client boots up. Edit /etc/fstab file, and add an appropriate line reflecting the setup. Again, the server's NFS export root is omitted.

servername:/music   /mountpoint/on/client   nfs4   rsize=8192,wsize=8192,timeo=14,_netdev	0 0
Note: Consult the NFS and mount man pages for more mount options.

Some additional mount options to consider are include:

rsize and wsize
The rsize value is the number of bytes used when reading from the server. The wsize value is the number of bytes used when writing to the server. The default for both is 1024, but using higher values such as 8192 can improve throughput. This is not universal. It is recommended to test after making this change, see #Performance tuning.
The timeo value is the amount of time, in tenths of a second, to wait before resending a transmission after an RPC timeout. After the first timeout, the timeout value is doubled for each retry for a maximum of 60 seconds or until a major timeout occurs. If connecting to a slow server or over a busy network, better performance can be achieved by increasing this timeout value.
The _netdev option tells the system to wait until the network is up before trying to mount the share. systemd assumes this for NFS, but anyway it is good practice to use it for all types of networked file systems
Note: Setting the sixth field (fs_passno) to a nonzero value may lead to unexpected behaviour, e.g. hangs when the systemd automount waits for a check which will never happen.

Mount using /etc/fstab with systemd

Another method is using the systemd automount service. This is a better option than _netdev, because it remounts the network device quickly when the connection is broken and restored. As well, it solves the problem from autofs, see the example below:

servername:/home   /mountpoint/on/client  nfs  noauto,x-systemd.automount,x-systemd.device-timeout=10,timeo=14 0 0

One might have to reboot the client to make systemd aware of the changes to fstab. Alternatively, you can try running the following commands to reload the /etc/fstab configuration in systemd:

# systemctl daemon-reload
# systemctl restart mountpoint-on-client.automount
  • The noauto mount option will not mount the NFS share until it is accessed: use auto for it to be available immediately.
    If experiencing any issues with the mount failing due to the network not being up/available, enable NetworkManager-wait-online.service. It will ensure that has all the links available prior to being active.
  • The users mount option would allow user mounts, but be aware it implies further options as noexec for example.
Note: Users trying to automount a NFS-share via systemd which is mounted the same way on the server may experience a freeze when handling larger amounts of data.

Mount using autofs

Using autofs is useful when multiple machines want to connect via NFS; they could both be clients as well as servers. The reason this method is preferable over the earlier one is that if the server is switched off, the client will not throw errors about being unable to find NFS shares. See autofs#NFS network mounts for details.

Tips and tricks

Performance tuning

In order to get the most out of NFS, it is necessary to tune the rsize and wsize mount options to meet the requirements of the network configuration.

Automounting shares with systemd-networkd

Users making use of systemd-networkd might notice nfs mounts the fstab are not mounted when booting; errors like the following are common:

mount[311]: mount.nfs4: Network is unreachable

The solution is simple; force systemd to wait for the network to be completely configured by running:

# systemctl enable systemd-networkd-wait-online.service

In theory this slows down the boot-process because less services run in parallel.

Automatic mount handling

This trick is useful for laptops that require nfs shares from a local wireless network. If the nfs host becomes unreachable, the nfs share will be unmounted to hopefully prevent system hangs when using the hard mount option. See

Make sure that the NFS mount points are correctly indicated in /etc/fstab:

$ cat /etc/fstab
lithium:/mnt/data           /mnt/data	        nfs noauto,noatime,rsize=32768,wsize=32768 0 0
lithium:/var/cache/pacman   /var/cache/pacman	nfs noauto,noatime,rsize=32768,wsize=32768 0 0

The noauto mount option tells systemd not to automatically mount the shares at boot. systemd would otherwise attempt to mount the nfs shares that may or may not exist on the network causing the boot process to appear to stall on a blank screen.

In order to mount NFS shares with non-root users the user option has to be added.

Create the auto_share script that will be used by cron to check if the NFS host is reachable:



MOUNT_POINTS=$(sed -e '/^.*#/d' -e '/^.*:/!d' -e 's/\t/ /g' /etc/fstab | tr -s " " | cut -f2 -d" ")

ping -c 1 "${SERVER}" &>/dev/null

if [ $? -ne 0 ]; then
    # The server could not be reached, unmount the shares
    for umntpnt in ${MOUNT_POINTS}; do
        umount -l -f $umntpnt &>/dev/null
    # The server is up, make sure the shares are mounted
    for mntpnt in ${MOUNT_POINTS}; do
        mountpoint -q $mntpnt || mount $mntpnt
# chmod +x /usr/local/bin/auto_share

Create the root cron entry to run auto_share every minute:

# crontab -e
* * * * * /usr/local/bin/auto_share

A systemd unit file can also be used to mount the NFS shares at startup. The unit file is not necessary if NetworkManager is installed and configured on the client system. See #NetworkManager dispatcher.

Description=NFS automount



Now enable the auto_share.service.

NetworkManager dispatcher

In addition to the method described previously, NetworkManager can also be configured to run a script on network status change: Enable and start the NetworkManager-dispatcher.service.

The easiest method for mount shares on network status change is to just symlink to the auto_share script:

# ln -s /usr/local/bin/auto_share /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d/

However, in that particular case unmounting will happen only after the network connection has already been disabled, which is unclean and may result in effects like freezing of KDE Plasma applets.

The following script safely unmounts the NFS shares before the relevant network connection is disabled by listening for the pre-down and vpn-pre-down events:


# Find the connection UUID with "nmcli con show" in terminal.
# All NetworkManager connection types are supported: wireless, VPN, wired...

if [[ "$CONNECTION_UUID" == "$WANTED_CON_UUID" ]]; then
    # Determine all NFS mountpoints from /etc/fstab
    MOUNT_POINTS=$(sed -e '/^.*#/d' -e '/^.*:/!d' -e 's/\t/ /g' /etc/fstab | tr -s " " | cut -f2 -d" ")
    # or manually list the space-separated mountpoints
    # MOUNT_POINTS="/mnt/nfs_share /mnt/other_nfs_storage"

    # Script parameter $1: NetworkManager connection name, not used
    # Script parameter $2: dispatched event
    case "$2" in
            for mntpnt in ${MOUNT_POINTS}; do
                mountpoint -q $mntpnt || mount $mntpnt
            for srvexp in ${MOUNT_POINTS}; do
                umount -l -f $srvexp >/dev/null

Make the script executable:

 # chmod +x /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d/

and create a symlink inside /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d/pre-down to catch the pre-down events:

 # ln -s /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d/ /etc/NetworkManager/dispatcher.d/pre-down.d/

The above script can be modified to mount different shares (even other than NFS) for different connections.

See also: NetworkManager#Use dispatcher to handle mounting of CIFS shares.


There is a dedicated article NFS Troubleshooting.

See also