Select Page

Problem: Mars and Venus and NFS 

You have two (or more) machines and you want to mount a drives with NFS from one machine to the other machine.   For our purposes, the first machine (sharing) is Mars and the second (mounting the share) is Venus.  So, you want to share an NFS mount from Mars with Venus.  Mars is running OSX Snow Leopard or later, and Venus is running Mountain Lion.   Mountain Lion no longer has the “Mount NFS Share” GUI utility in the Disk Utility.


Apple took it upon themselves to remove the NFS share utility from the disk utility for various reasons.   I believe that they removed it to protect their customers, because NFS is a network file sharing protocol that is insecure if it’s exposed directly on the internet.   It’s perfectly fine, however, to run NFS behind a firewall on your home desktop computers.   I wouldn’t have any NFS exports  on a laptop, since a laptop travels.    So, why use NFS?   Well, the advantage is that you don’t actually have to enable sharing in the System Preferences, you just need to modify one file.

As always, make sure that your Time Machine has a good backup.  And always make backup files of any existing system files before you change them.

How to share the NFS mount from Mars

I want to share a volume from Mars, so I need to edit the file “/etc/exports” file on the Mars machine.


Mars:~ jeffreyspencer$ sudo nano /etc/exports

Add a line in the exports file to mount the volume and/or directory that you want to export on the network.


/Volumes/Mason -mapall=jeffreyspencer:staff

Mason is the volume which is being shared via NFS from Mars. You can specify the entire volume, or a path to a specific directory.  I’m sharing the whole flipping thing – because that’s how I roll.   I am mapping all users to my user account since I’m on a trusted network and I’m the only user.   I am sharing the NFS mount with two machines, one located at +150 and the other at +165.  Save the file.

Now that the  exports file is saved, turn on the NFS daemon.


Mars:~ jeffreyspencer$ sudo nfsd start

How to mount Mars NFS shares on Venus

Working on Venus now, open a finder window, and then click on the top bar “go” menu, and then click “Connect to server.”



Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 11.15.06 PMYou are going to mount an NFS drive from Mars, which has exported /Volumes/Mason location in the exports file.   After you enter the location, save the entry (press the plus sign) and then press “connect” to mount the NFS drive.  Now, browse to the current computer “Venus” in the finder and . . .


(American comfortable with their bastardized heritage, myself included, might use the phonetic “Wala”)
Your NFS drive is now mounted.

Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 11.15.47 PM

Machines are stupid.   Your job, therefore, is to be smarter than a machine.

You can read about the AutoFS system contained in OSX and the different methods used to mount drives using Apple’s Technical White Paper on the subject.