Hummingbird’s NFS Maestro Client

Microsoft Windows Services for Unix

Share Directories between Linux Machines

PCQLinux 2007: A Snapshot Review

Windows Services for Unix 3.0

Hummingbird NFS Maestro Client

Windows client software for Unix. 
Rs 18,500 for single user; Rs 86,500 for five users; Rs 165,000 for ten users; Rs 14,500 (per user) for 11-19 users.

Features: Enables mounting of more than 26 NFS file systems, unlike DOS which limits the number of drive letters to 26. 
Pros: Seamless integration of Unix with Windows—feels as if the mounted Unix drive is part of your Windows PC; easy to install.
Cons: Can’t save connection settings; Expensive.

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Behind most LAN environments lie multiple operating systems. Therefore, some mode of co- mmunication is needed to connect them with each other. In most flavors of Unix (the latest addition to this list is Linux), there’s a standard called NFS or Network File System. This is basically a Unix standard for file sharing. Many applications make use of NFS to connect Unix with other operating systems. NFS Maestro Client from Hummingbird is one such solution. 

We used Maestro to connect Win 98 and Win NT clients to a Red Hat Linux 6.1 machine. Installation of the client is simple. The program automatically detects your operating system (Win 95/98/NT) and installs the required software components for it. It also adds itself to the network properties. From here, you can configure it to connect to one or more NFS servers, and choose the packet size it’ll read or write in one go. The documentation is very detailed and is available in PDF format.

The Maestro client comes with some additional utilities. There’s rpcinfo that queries the NFS server and obtains a list of all RPC services running on it. RPC is a protocol that allows a program on one computer to execute programs on a server. There’s an exports utility that gives you a list of shared files and directories on the host. There’s a utility called Parmset that analyzes your network and determines the best read and write sizes. This must be used with caution, as it could crash your machine—the documentation also warns you about this. It also has other utilities like a graphical trace route program, an FTP client with drag-n-drop support, an FTP server for Windows, and a terminal emulation program for accessing IBM mainframes, AS400’s and Unix systems.

Connectivity between the client and server is pretty good. Once configured, the shared directories on the NFS server appear as normal drives on Windows clients. You can connect to multiple NFS servers from the same client. However, there’s no way to save these settings, so you’ll have to repeat the process every time you boot Windows. 

At the server end, a daemon called pcnfsd is required to handle the authentication process. Most Unix systems have this daemon. Maestro comes with the source code of its own version of the same, called hclnfsd. This can be compiled for different operating systems. A precompiled daemon can also be downloaded from their FTP site (ftp. hummingbird.com), made executable, and added to the rc.local file so that it starts automatically at boot-up. Once you’ve configured the daemon, you’ve to enable file sharing on the server. 

The main advantage of NFS Maestro is that it’s easy to configure and use. But it comes at a steep price compared to other Unix file sharing solutions such as Samba. 

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