I have an Ubuntu 20.04 server (a local VM in my case). How do I mount a directory on the Linux server from a macOS Catalina client, using NFS?

1 Answer 1


Setting up the Linux server

  1. Install the NFS server as per the Ubuntu NFS guide:

    sudo apt install nfs-kernel-server
  2. Edit /etc/exports:

    sudo nano /etc/exports

    Now add a line similar to this:

    • /home/ubuntu is the directory to export
    • is the IP addresses to accept connections from. The Mac client's IP address should be in this range. Use * to allow from any IP address. (But be careful not to make your NFS server available to the entire internet!)
    • insecure means to accept connections from unprivileged (higher) port numbers
    • rw means read-write
    • all_squash,anonuid=1000,anongid=1000 forces all reads and writes to be performed by the user/group with UID/GID 1000 (1000 is the default ubuntu user/group on my server). Run id on the server to find out your UID/GID. You need these options unless your Ubuntu server and Mac client use the same UID/GID for the main user.
    • no_subtree_check is a performance thing
  3. Save the file and run

    sudo exportfs -vra

    to reload the NFS exports. (I'm not sure if the -a option is necessary.)

Setting up the Mac client

  1. On the macOS client, edit the /etc/auto_master file (documented in the auto_master man page):

    sudo nano /etc/auto_master

    and change the line starting with /net to the following (or add it if necessary):

    /net                    -hosts          -nobrowse,nosuid,locallocks,nfc,actimeo=1
    • locallocks creates locks on the client rather than on the server. Without this, Finder becomes very slow and takes forever to show directories.
    • nfc makes UTF-8 file names work
    • actimeo=1 sets the attribute cache timeout as short as possible. Note that setting it to 0 (or adding noac) causes Finder not to notice when a file is deleted on the server, so we can't use it.
    • Note that we're not using nfsvers=4 here. I got kernel panics on the Mac with this, so I went back to the default (NFSv3).

    Note: It appears that some macOS software updates can overwrite this file and remove your changes. I've found myself having to go back to back to this answer once a year or so re-apply the changes.

  2. Refresh the automounts by running

    sudo automount -vc

    (If you previously tried to mount an NFS volume, unmount it first, like so: sudo umount -f /net/fileserver.local/home/ubuntu)

  3. In the Finder menu, select Go -> Go to Folder, and type /net/SERVER_HOST_NAME, e.g. /net/fileserver.local.

    You should find your exported directory in there, e.g. at /net/fileserver.local/home/ubuntu. Drag this directory to the Finder sidebar to make it easy to access in the future.

  • Also, is there any way to fix the permissions. The only way I have to access my files from the Mac is giving 777 permissions to the folder I want to share :( otherwise the system shows me a message telling my I don't have permissions to browse the folder. Sep 4, 2015 at 20:08
  • @carlosvega The all_squash,anonuid=1000,anongid=1000 options take care of permissions for me - everything owned by UID 1000 on the Ubuntu server can be accessed from the Mac client no problem, so there's no need for chmodding to 777.
    – Jo Liss
    Sep 7, 2015 at 14:34
  • 5
    Just a quick comment, if you just want to mount "on the fly" on the mac side, this works for me : sudo mount -t nfs -o resvport 172.16.238.x:/home/ubuntu /Users/xyz/ubuntu Sep 9, 2015 at 23:13
  • works for me with Mac OSX Sierra and Ubuntu 16.04 Nov 17, 2016 at 18:26
  • 3
    People don't realize how much trial and error lies behind this brilliant answer. Especially the "nfc" part is CRUCIAL when mounting (or rsyncing) non-MacOS servers. You won't notice at first, but the UTF-8 ain't the same on OS X as it is everywhere else. Without it, your file names might very well be garbled and require hours on end to fix later on. I know I can't use a comment to say, "thank you," so I'll just end it here ;) Dec 5, 2016 at 13:43

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