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WebNFS (Network File System)
Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.
WebNFS is Sun Microsystem's attempt to bring a file system to the Internet. It is based on the popular NFS (Network File System) that is the primary file system in UNIX and other environments. WebNFS makes file access across the Internet as easy as accessing files on local systems. It is specifically designed to handle the unique problems associated with accessing files across the Internet. It provides enhanced download performance and reliability through automatic error and crash recovery. If a connection is broken in the middle of a file download, the download continues when the connection is restored.
Perhaps the most important feature is that file systems at other locations on the Internet can appear to a user as a file system that is local. WebNFS works through firewalls and implements features such as read-ahead and write-behind to improve data access over the Internet. A file can be referenced with a URL format similar to the following:
Another important feature of WebNFS is that it can provide from five to ten times the performance of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) when displaying graphics and animation. This is because WebNFS is optimized to use bandwidth efficiently. In addition, files can be edited in place without being downloaded to the user's computer. Because the files are edited in place where other users access them, file integrity is maintained. With other systems, a user may download a file, edit it, and then copy it back-overwriting the original copy of the file, which may have just been changed by another user.
Like NFS, administrators specify which directories or files are to be exported. These are the files that will be available to network users, either on intranets or the Internet. WebNFS handles the task of locating these files, negotiating file access privileges, and locally mounting the files so users at remote locations can access them.
Sun is promoting WebNFS as the best file system for NCs (Network Computers), and for computers that have reduced local file systems and that rely on network-based file systems. Netscape Communications. Oracle, Spyglass, IBM, Apple Computer, and Novell support WebNFS in their product lines. The following Internet RFCs describe WebNFS further:
Another file system that has been refined for use on the Internet is Microsoft's CIFS (Common Internet File System), which is an enhanced version of Microsoft's SMB (Server Message Blocks) protocol, the native file sharing protocol for Windows.
Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.