NFS Overview, History, Versions and Standards
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The histories of TCP/IP and the Internet are inextricably linked, as you can read for yourself in my discussion of the history of TCP/IP. However, there is a third partner that is less-often mentioned, but very much part of the development history of these technologies. That is the operating system that ran on the machines in the early Internet, still used on a large percentage of Internet servers today: the UNIX operating system.
Sun Microsystems was one of the early pioneers in the development of UNIX, and in TCP/IP networking. Early in the evolution of TCP/IP, certain tools were created to allow a user to access another machine over the networkafter all, this is arguably the entire point of networking. Remote access protocols such as Telnet allowed a user to log in to another host computer and use resources there. The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) allowed someone to copy a file from a distant machine to their own and edit it.
However, neither of these solutions really fit the bill of allowing a user to access a file on a remote machine in a way similar to how a local file is used. To fill this need, Sun created the Network File System (NFS). NFS was specifically designed with the goal of eliminating the distinction between a local and a remote file. To a user, after the appropriate setup is performed, a file on a remote computer can be used as if it were on a hard disk on the user's local machine. Sun also crafted NFS specifically to be vendor-independent, to ensure that both hardware made by Sun and that made by other companies could interoperate.
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