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What is SHFS?

Shfs is a simple and easy to use Linux kernel module which allows you to mount remote filesystems using a plain shell (ssh) connection. When using shfs, you can access all remote files just like the local ones, only the access is governed through the transport security of ssh.


Shfs supports some nice features:

  • file cache for access speedup
  • perl and shell code for the remote (server) side
  • could preserve uid/gid (root connection)
  • number of remote host platforms (Linux, Solaris, Cygwin, ...)
  • Linux kernel 2.4.10+ and 2.6
  • arbitrary command used for connection (instead of ssh)
  • persistent connection (reconnect after ssh dies)

If these features cannot convince you, I probably cannot either. Yet, consider: the only thing you need on the server is a sshd running - and you can mount your filesystem from anywhere in a secure way.

Howto SHFS

In order to use shfs it needs to be installed and configured on the client side, NOT on the server side! Server only needs to have working sshd running.


If you have standard Arch-kernel installed and community repo enabled in pacman, the installation is very simple:

# pacman -Syu shfs

In other cases (e.g. if you run a self-baked kernel), you need to compile shfs first for yourself. There is a PKGBUILD and other needed files in AUR, just download them manually or even simpler, if you have ABS configured to use build files from community repo, just update your local abs tree:

# abs community/shfs

Then change to the directory where the files are downloaded and run makepkg (do not need to be root):

$ cd /var/abs/community/shfs
$ makepkg

This should make a working package, which can be easily installed (under root):

# pacman -A ./shfs*.pkg.tar.gz


If you want to use shfsmount as mortal user, you will have to chmod +s /usr/bin/shfsmount and chmod + /usr/bin/shfsumount. However it is much more comfortable to put your mount options into /etc/fstab - this is what mine looks like:

remoteuser@Server:/data   /mnt/data   shfs    rw,noauto,uid=localuser,persistent   0       0
remoteuser@Server:/crap   /mnt/crap   shfs    rw,noauto,uid=localuser,persistent   0       0
remoteuser@Server:/backup /mnt/backup shfs    rw,noauto,uid=localuser,persistent   0       0
remoteuser@Server:/home   /mnt/home   shfs    rw,noauto,uid=localuser,persistent   0       0

Soon you will get tired typing passwords and once you do, you might consider Using SSH Keys.

Btw, if you are a paranoid bastard, like I am, and do not run ssh on port 22 on your server, you will need to complete your option list with port=<portnumber>.


To add an entry for an shfs volume in your fstab, add a line of the format:

userid@remoteMachine:/remoteDirectory /home/userid/remoteDirectory shfs rw,user,noauto 0 0

(Came from Ubuntu Forums).

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