19.3. autofs

19.3. autofs

One drawback to using /etc/fstab is that, regardless of how infrequently a user accesses the NFS mounted file system, the system must dedicate resources to keep the mounted file system in place. This is not a problem with one or two mounts, but when the system is maintaining mounts to many systems at one time, overall system performance can be affected. An alternative to /etc/fstab is to use the kernel-based automount utility. An automounter consists of two components. One is a kernel module that implements a file system, while the other is a user-space daemon that performs all of the other functions. The automount utility can mount and unmount NFS file systems automatically (on demand mounting) therefore saving system resources. The automount utility can be used to mount other file systems including AFS, SMBFS, CIFS and local file systems.

autofs uses /etc/auto.master (master map) as its default primary configuration file. This can be changed to use another supported network source and name using the autofs configuration (in /etc/sysconfig/autofs) in conjunction with the Name Service Switch mechanism. An instance of the version 4 daemon was run for each mount point configured in the master map and so it could be run manually from the command line for any given mount point. This is not possible with version 5 because it uses a single daemon to manage all configured mount points, so all automounts must be configured in the master map. This is in line with the usual requirements of other industry standard automounters. Mount point, hostname, exported directory, and options can all be specified in a set of files (or other supported network sources) rather than configuring them manually for each host. Please ensure that you have the autofs package installed if you wish to use this service.


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