NFS - Network File System: A file system devised by Sun Microsystems in 1985 in order to network Unix computers. NFS allows one computer to attach and use files on another computer as if they were present on the local computer. NFS is largely independent of the actual file system used on the target machine, and is simply a mechanism for delivering data from or to a remote computer while emulating a (unix) file system. There are several versions of NFS with most current users using Versions 2 or 3. NFS is designed as a "stateless" protocol although there are plans to add state management in future releases in order to allow multiple users of a file to know what other users are doing with/to the file.

NFS is the most commonly used technology for sharing files between computers running Unix/FreeBSD/Linux/Solaris/etc.

NFS is not supported by Microsoft, but is available with commercial add-ins. It is present in most Linux/Unix distributions. Unix to Windows file connectivity is often provided by SMB (also known as Samba or CIFS) -- a Microsoft file sharing technology -- rather than NFS.

In early years, NFS was known informally as the "Nightmare File System" largely because of an unfortunate phenomenon wherein a computer would go down, locking tasks on any computers waiting for file accesses on the defunct computer. That, in turn, locked up computers waiting for access to the locked computers, which, in turn ... This is no longer a significant issue.

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