NFS on 386 UNIX Machines

John R. Levine johnl at
Thu Oct 26 23:07:17 AEST 1989

>From article <915 at fiver.UUCP>, by palowoda at fiver.UUCP (Bob Palowoda):
>   Has anyone configured large NFS systems with DOS NFS 3.0 clients?
>   (NFS on a 386 type UNIX)

I have used such a setup quite successfully.  At a place where I consult we
have a network of several dozen Suns of various types, with three (probably
soon to be more) 386/ix machines, all NFS'ed together.  With some relatively
minor problems, it works out of the box.

Problems include:

-- 386/ix yellow pages doesn't exist yet.  We kludged around that with some
shell scripts to put the necessary entries into the local hosts and password
files, and we statically mount the stuff in /vol and /home that is
automounted on the Suns.

-- 386/ix doesn't understand BSD filesystems.  In particular, filenames with
more than 14 characters and symbolic links don't work.

-- 386/ix csh crashes when any component of the PATH is on a BSD filesystem,
apparently because it doesn't know how to read a BSD directory.  The Bourne
and Korn shells work fine.

-- We are using cruddy old 3com Ethernet interfaces with only one packet
buffer, so we set the NFS transfer size to 1K rather than the usual 8K to
avoid zillions of collisions.  If we had boards with more buffers such as
the WD8003, this probably would not be a problem.  Even so, NFS performance
is not bad.

Since we got the network set up, it has worked reliably.  I don't know how
well it works to mount a 386/ix file system on a Sun, since we haven't had
occasion to try it.  Mounting a 386/ix file system on a PC with PC-NFS works,
I do that at home.  A 25 MHz 386/ix box is faster than a Sun 386i, and costs
less, too.
John R. Levine, Segue Software, POB 349, Cambridge MA 02238, +1 617 864 9650
johnl at, {ima|lotus|spdcc}!esegue!johnl
Massachusetts has over 100,000 unlicensed drivers.  -The Globe

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