Novell Storage Services (NSS) is a powerful storage and filesystem that provides an efficient way to use all the space on your storage devices. NSS cannot be used for the OES Linux root filesystem, which contains the SLES operating system files, but it can be used for any other storage space you would like to allocate.
NSS is now one of many different filesystems offered on Linux platforms. Although every filesystem's primary goal is to provide access to disk storage, each filesystem has its own particular features. NSS is no different and offers a wide range of features not available with any other filesystem.
Some of the main features of NSS are complete integration with eDirectory, extended Access Control Lists (ACLs), rights inheritance and filtering, support for multiple name spaces, and much, much more. Many of those capabilities are only possible through an NSS feature known as a backlink.
With NSS, each file or directory is backlinked to the parent directory. This means that not only does the parent know what objects are beneath it, but the child also knows what parent directories are above it. This feature is unique to NSS and offers several powerful capabilities. One benefit of this is visible when browsing directories with varying permissions. In non-NSS filesystems, all directories are visible even if you do not have permission to enter the directory. With NSS, backlinks are used to ensure directory visibility is confined to just the directories you have access to.
Another benefit is seen when assigning permissions. To provide access to a file several levels deep in a directory tree, NSS only requires that rights be assigned at that specific file or location. There is no need to traverse the tree, either manually or automatically, and assign rights. Through backlinks, NSS automatically determines the visibility of parent directories and ensures that users are able to traverse to the location where rights have been assigned.
NSS also offers many additional capabilities over traditional Linux filesystems. This does not mean that NSS is always the best choice, but understanding the capabilities of NSS should help you to make the right filesystem choice for whatever filesystem needs you may have. NSS is particularly useful in conjunction with other OES components, such as Novell Clustering Services (NCS) and the Novell Client. NSS is a powerful addition to your OES Linux infrastructure, and an important component to understand.
The first concept with which you should become familiar in the NSS filesystem is the volume. An NSS volume is the highest level in the filesystem hierarchy, and is the structure within which directories and files are maintained. From a Linux perspective, a volume is just another term for a filesystem or formatted partition.
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