Q

Getting NFS drive errors; storing Windows directories on NFS

I've certainly got used to the Windows interface and availability for more than ten years. Yet I've found Linux to be the perfect solution for my storage needs, be it a data warehouse or user files.

I've successfully integrated Linux storage servers providing NFS to Windows XP machines via NFS (I use Omni NFS/X). Yet frequent access to NFS drives results in unexpected errors. Sometimes the XP machine reboots, sometimes access is extremely slow (a typical slowdown happens in any File --> Open Dialog box in Office or almost any other Windows program).

It seems setting a 1 KB file buffer limit in the OmniNFS dialog box seems to help a little. My XP antivirus solution is up to date, as is Windows XP with patches.

  1. What could be causing those unexpected errors?
  2. As a greater aid to administrator duties, I'd like to store Windows XP users' home directories in an NFS drive. Is that possible? If so, what are the limitations?
The problem could be a couple of things, the first of which might be that there is a slowdown because of translation problems between SMB and NFS. However, given the information you provided, I think my best answer is to give you some troubleshooting tips.

My best advice is to look for an error by going to Control Panel --> Administrative Tools --> Event Viewer. Then search your event logs for a reference to Omni NFS client. That should give you at least some information about why the NFS service is logging a meaningful error.

Also, you may want to check the file permissions for the Linux server where you are exporting directories. Is the failure common across all machines or just one (which might indicate permissions problems for a given user)? I would see if there's some common pattern or if it is a commonality among all the clients and not just one.

As for storing your XP users' home directories and mounting them over NFS, you would introduce the failure point of the network. On a LAN with significant bandwidth and low latency, this most likely will not result in a problem. However, you may encounter some NFS file locking problems when doing this from Windows to Linux, which may be a problem with your XP machines (see the links at the end of my response).

Maybe a better solution is to use Samba and the Windows XP Roaming Profiles in combination with Folder Redirection.

I assume that by "Windows XP home directories," you mean the information kept under C:\Documents and Settings\$username. Working under this assumption, I would recommend you investigate the following. Instead of an NFS share, you could use the Samba server to provide roaming profiles, which would enable all user settings to be stored on the Linux server (My Documents, My Pictures, Application Data, Desktop and Start Menu). Then, using folder redirection, you may be able to redirect the following folders to that Linux server using Samba shares. I haven't duplicated this in my lab, but I have seen reports on the Samba mailing list that might be of use to you. I also would advise that the larger the amount of information kept on the profiles, the longer it will take for you to log in. I believe that all files get copied from your Samba to your PC when you log in. Taking steps to empty temporary folders for Internet Explorer upon exit and other space savers might improve overall experience for your users.

Here are some links that might be helpful to you:

This was first published in December 2004

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