The ability to share information by sharing files is the fundamental service of a departmental network. Linux is a perfect system for this service because it provides a wide range of different file-sharing mechanisms that integrate Microsoft Windows clients, Unix clients, and other clients that are not compatible with either of these into a single, cohesive network.

Compared with proprietary servers that see the world in only one way, Linux servers provide increased flexibility for designing the right network. Linux does this by providing three distinct types of file sharing:

Mainframe technique Allows clients to log in to the server and share files directly through the Linux filesystem. This model works with any client system that can emulate a terminal.

Unix network technique Allows clients to share files across the network with the Network File System (NFS). NFS is the most popular file-sharing software on Unix networks.

Microsoft network technique Allows clients to use the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol to share files across the network. SMB is the NetBIOS protocol used by Microsoft LanManager and Windows NT/2000 systems to provide file-sharing services to Microsoft Windows clients.

This chapter examines all three file-sharing techniques, beginning with the mainframe model that uses the basic capabilities of the Linux filesystem.

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