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Lesson 8. Using File Services > Different Protocols for Different Clients

Different Protocols for Different Clients

Mac OS X Server includes a number of ways to share files. The method you select depends largely on the clients you expect to serve (although security is another factor to consider). Mac OS X Server provides the following file-sharing services:

  • Apple File Service (AFS): AFS, which uses the Apple Filing Protocol (AFP), is useful primarily for sharing files with Macintosh clients, whether they are older Mac OS 9 clients or the latest Mac OS X clients.

  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP): This file-sharing protocol is lightweight in the sense that it is simple and does not have all the features available in the other file-sharing services in Mac OS X. FTP allows you to transfer files back and forth between client and server, but you cannot, for example, open a document over an FTP connection. The primary benefit of FTP is that it is ubiquitous: It is hard to find a TCP-capable computer that does not support FTP.

  • Network File System (NFS): NFS is the traditional method of file sharing for UNIX-based computers. NFS has its heritage in research facilities and academia in the 1980s. While it can be very convenient and flexible, it suffers from some security holes that do not affect the other protocols. The primary use for NFS is to provide files to UNIX or Linux computers. Although Mac OS X has a core based on UNIX, you should normally use AFS for Macintosh clients.

  • Windows file service: This service uses the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. You may also hear this referred to as the Common Internet File System (CIFS). SMB is the native file-sharing protocol for Windows computers but is also used widely in UNIX environments. Mac OS X Server can appear to be a Windows server, even to the extent that it shows up in the Windows Network Neighborhood just as a Windows server would.

  • NFS resharing: Imagine a big UNIX-based server that speaks only NFS, and a number of legacy Macintosh clients that speak only AFP. How can they communicate? It would seem that Mac OS X, which is both Macintosh and UNIX based, would be a good translator between the two. And, in fact, it is: Mac OS X Server includes the capability to “reshare” an NFS volume with Apple File Service just as it would share a local drive. This lesson does not teach you how to configure NFS resharing.



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