I am planning to install a networked filesystem in my corporation to provide a global file storage to employees, but there are many choices today (NFS, AFS, Coda, Samba, ...) and I'm looking for something easy to install and upgrade without costing too much. What do you recommend, why and which are your remarks about this?

  • 1
    I posted a question almost the exact same: serverfault.com/questions/57932/…
    – barfoon
    Oct 1, 2009 at 18:43
  • These aren't file systems in the classic sense, but instead provided a sharing-layer to allow access to the underlying filesystem (ext3,ntfs,fat32,etc) across networked server. Please re-word your question, title and tags to reflect this.
    – Coops
    Oct 1, 2009 at 20:23

5 Answers 5


I would recommend OpenSolaris with RAIDZ or RAIDZ2 depending on how much redundancy you want. Using RAIDZ means that not only can you lose a drive, if a drive starts to return bad data it can tell you about it and fix it. I use it in combination with netatalk and NFS, but it supports Samba sharing as well.

Another nice feature of ZFS from an administration standpoint is the ability to create and destroy filesystems quickly and easily. It makes it really easy to do things like give each user their own filesystem or have an archive filesystem with gzip-9 compression while the more commonly accessed filesystems have no compression or something fast like lzjb.

OpenSolaris has pretty good hardware support, so you can customize the hardware to your needs. ZFS has a pretty aggressive cache, so more RAM will help quite a bit.

  • ZFS is pretty much the best thing about OpenSolaris. If only Linux had ZFS. Transparent compression and block level check summing are two really amazing features.
    – Ryaner
    Oct 1, 2009 at 19:52
  • @Ryaner: Check out "Btrfs" for Linux. Not ready yet, but hopefully soon. btrfs.wiki.kernel.org
    – Teddy
    Oct 1, 2009 at 23:16
  • For a do-it-yourself fileserver, I like that setup. Actually, spend a bit and go with NexentaStor: nexenta.com/corp. You want some support for a enterprise level storage device.
    – churnd
    Oct 2, 2009 at 15:59
  • @churnd Why go with NexentaStor rather than Sun's X4000 series storage servers?
    – Amok
    Oct 2, 2009 at 16:28
  • @Amuck: Price, mainly. If your budget permits, by all means go with Sun. I can get the same thing from NexentaStor for cheaper.
    – churnd
    Oct 2, 2009 at 17:03

NFS and Samba aren't file systems.

If I'm setting up file servers that aren't going to be hosting more than a few TB of data I stick to the basics:

1) Linux for the OS (I prefer OpenSUSE)

2) ext3 for the filesystem

3) Samba for Windows clients

4) netatalk for Macs (netatalk allows AFP access to your machine)

  • Umm.. the FS in NFS stands for File System. Oct 1, 2009 at 19:31
  • 1
    Yes, it does stand for that, but NFS doesn't interface with block devices. A purist wouldn't call it a file system. In other words, you can't have a NFS partition.
    – pboin
    Oct 1, 2009 at 19:43
  • 1
    almost the same i use; except that i don't bother with netatalk, even if most of my clients are macs. Samba is far faster and more stable.
    – Javier
    Oct 1, 2009 at 19:52
  • I have the exact same setup for my personal fileserver at work, except I use XFS for the filesystem. I find it's faster.
    – churnd
    Oct 2, 2009 at 15:57

Based on your question, I'm going to assuming you mean What filesharing protocol should I use? Filesystems are not the same thing.

If you're just starting out, I would recommend staying away from AFS and Coda. They're quite complex and it doesn't sound like your requirements warrant them.

Your choices are then:

  • NFS if you have predominantly Linux clients, and you have a directory service managing users and groups throughout your network. Security is poor unless you can use Kerberized NFS, but currently you need the NFS server in Mac OS X Server to do this with NFS3, or else you need to use NFS4.
  • AFP is the best for Mac clients, especially if you use the real AFP server (that comes with OS X Server) and use HFS+ as the underlying filesystem. This will give mac users the cleanest and most native experience which will fully support Spotlight search, ACLs, and multiple forks.
  • Samba/CIFS is the only real option for Windows clients, AFAIK. I don't have a lot of experience with it though—sorry.

In practice, you can share the same filesystem over multiple protocols. We share the same filesystems over Kerberized NFS to linux clients, and AFP to mac clients. We used to also share it to windows clients with Samba. We're using OS X 10.5 Servers, HFS+ filesystem, and globalSAN iSCSI initiators to connect to Lefthand iSCSI targets.


NTFS (shared via SMB/CIFS/DFS) because our file servers all run Windows.

  • Upvoted to compensate for that (IMHO) unnecessary downvote. Oct 2, 2009 at 16:13

I'm surprised SAN devices haven't been mentioned. You did say you wanted storage for your corporation, which suggests a large number of employees and is not something that should be taken lightly. You also want something that's scalable, because you WILL need to expand that storage down the road.

I would recommend:

  1. Cheaper route: NexentaStor
  2. More expensive route: NetApp

Then, you're gonna need a backup system. That's another topic altogether.

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