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Exporting Home Directories on Demand to PCs

David Clear and Alan Ibbetson
University of Kent at Canterbury, UK

Peter Collinson
Hillside Systems


Our university has run a UNIX service, both for teaching and research, for over fifteen years. Cost considerations have made us retain timesharing hosts (with X terminals), rather than migrate to desktop workstations. We have come to PCs only in the last five years, and only as poor relations to the main timesharing service, due to a lack of manpower.

Our public PCs do not have hard disks, instead they mount system filestore over NFS. Until recently the only per-user filestore was on local 31/2" floppy disks and it was left to the users to back up and manage their own data. As the PC service has gained in importance, the demand for centrally managed filestore has prompted the development of a system to give users access to their own personal secure filestore from any public PC on campus. Moreover, the use of mixed-platform teaching has made it a requirement that a user's PC filestore be visible from their UNIX environment.

This paper describes an implementation of a distributed and relatively secure system for providing NFS based personal filestore on a PC. We use an export-on-demand mechanism. A single home directory is exported to just one PC rather than whole partitions being globally exported. The service has been in use since January 1994.

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