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nfs3d - daemon for the NFS bridge


nfs3d -conf file [-fg] [-pid file]


This is the daemon acting as an NFS server and forwarding requests to the PlasmaFS cluster (namenodes and datanodes). The daemon implements the nfs and mountd programs of NFS version 3. (Caveat: Early releases of nfs3d are restricted to read-only mounts.) There is no support for the nlockmgr protocol yet.

There is no access control yet. PlasmaFS stores the owners of files by name, whereas NFS transmits numeric IDs. A translation facility is still missing.

An instance of the NFS bridge can only connect to a single PlasmaFS cluster.

The NFS bridge can only be contacted over TCP. There is no UDP support, and it is also not planned. NFS runs well over TCP.

NFS clients can mount PlasmaFS volumes as in (Linux syntax):

mount -o intr,port=2801,mountport=2800,nolock <host>:/<clustername> /mnt

Here, <host> is to be replaced by the machine running the NFS bridge. <clustername> is the name of the cluster. The port numbers might need adjustments - we assume the same numbers are used as in the examples.

For a single PlasmaFS cluster there can be multiple NFS bridges. This makes it, for example, possible to install a separate NFS bridge on each client machine. The NFS protocol is then only run locally on the client machine, and does not even touch the real network.

NFS (version 3) only implements weak cache consistency: An NFS client usually caches data as long as nothing is known about a possible modification, and modifications can only be recognized by changed metadata (i.e. the mtime in the inode is changed after a write). Although NFS clients typically query metadata often, it is possible that data modifications remain unnnoticed. This is a problem in the NFS protocol, not in the bridge. The PlasmaFS protocol has better cache consistency semantics, especially it is ensured that a change of data is also represented as an update of the metadata. However, the different semantics may nevertheless cause incompatibilities. For example, it is allowed for a PlasmaFS client to change data without changing the mtime in the inode. Within the PlasmaFS system this is not a big problem, because there are other means to reliably detect the change. An NFS client connected via this bridge might not see the update, though, and may continue to pretend that its own cache version is up to date. All in all, it is expected that these problems are mostly of theoretical nature, and will usually not occur in practice.

NFS version 3 can deal with large blocks in the protocol, and some client implementations also support that. For example, the Linux client supports block sizes up to 1M automatically, i.e. this is the maximum transmission unit for reads and writes. Independently of the client support, the NFS bridge translates the sizes of the data blocks used in the NFS protocol to what the PlasmaFS protocol requires. This means that the NFS bridge can handle the case that the client uses data sizes smaller than the PlasmaFS block size. There is a performance loss, though.


  • -conf file: Reads the configuration from this file. See below for details.
  • -fg: Prevents that the daemon detaches from the terminal and puts itself into the background.
  • -pid file: Writes this pid file once the service process is forked.


The configuration file is in Netplex syntax, and also uses many features from this framework. See the documentation for Netplex which is available as part of the Ocamlnet library package. There are also some explanations here: Cmd_plasmad.

The config file looks like:

netplex {
  controller {
    ... (* see plasmad documentation *)
  namenodes {
    clustername = "<name>";
    node_list = "<nn_list>";
    port = 2730;
  service {
    name = "Nfs3";
    protocol {
      name = "mount3";
      address {
        type = "internet";
        bind = ""
    protocol {
      name = "nfs3";
      address {
        type = "internet";
        bind = ""
    processor {
      type = "nfs";
      nfs3 { };
      mount3 { };
    workload_manager {
      type = "constant";
      threads = 1;


  • clustername is the name of the PlasmaFS cluster.
  • node_list is a text file containing the names of the namenodes, one hostname a line.
It is not advisable to use the official NFS ports, or to register the NFS ports with portmapper.

How to shut down the daemon

First, one should unmount all NFS clients. There is no way for an NFS server to enforce unmounts (i.e. that clients write all unsaved data).

The orderly way for shutting down the daemon is the command

netplex-admin -sockdir <socket_directory> -shutdown

netplex-admin is part of the Ocamlnet distribution. The socket directory must be the configured socket directory.

It is also allowed to do a hard shutdown by sending SIGTERM signals to the process group whose ID is written to the pid file. There is no risk of data loss in the server because of the transactional design. However, clients may be well confused when the connections simply crash.

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