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Reexporting NFS filesystems
It is possible to reexport an NFS filesystem over NFS. However, this
feature comes with a number of limitations. Before trying it, we
recommend some careful research to determine whether it will work for
your purposes.
A discussion of current known limitations follows.
"fsid=" required, crossmnt broken
We require the "fsid=" export option on any reexport of an NFS
filesystem. You can use "uuidgen -r" to generate a unique argument.
The "crossmnt" export does not propagate "fsid=", so it will not allow
traversing into further nfs filesystems; if you wish to export nfs
filesystems mounted under the exported filesystem, you'll need to export
them explicitly, assigning each its own unique "fsid= option.
Reboot recovery
The NFS protocol's normal reboot recovery mechanisms don't work for the
case when the reexport server reboots. Clients will lose any locks
they held before the reboot, and further IO will result in errors.
Closing and reopening files should clear the errors.
Filehandle limits
If the original server uses an X byte filehandle for a given object, the
reexport server's filehandle for the reexported object will be X+22
bytes, rounded up to the nearest multiple of four bytes.
The result must fit into the RFC-mandated filehandle size limits:
| NFSv2 | 32 bytes |
| NFSv3 | 64 bytes |
| NFSv4 | 128 bytes |
So, for example, you will only be able to reexport a filesystem over
NFSv2 if the original server gives you filehandles that fit in 10
bytes--which is unlikely.
In general there's no way to know the maximum filehandle size given out
by an NFS server without asking the server vendor.
But the following table gives a few examples. The first column is the
typical length of the filehandle from a Linux server exporting the given
filesystem, the second is the length after that nfs export is reexported
by another Linux host:
| | filehandle length | after reexport |
| ext4: | 28 bytes | 52 bytes |
| xfs: | 32 bytes | 56 bytes |
| btrfs: | 40 bytes | 64 bytes |
All will therefore fit in an NFSv3 or NFSv4 filehandle after reexport,
but none are reexportable over NFSv2.
Linux server filehandles are a bit more complicated than this, though;
for example:
- The (non-default) "subtreecheck" export option generally
requires another 4 to 8 bytes in the filehandle.
- If you export a subdirectory of a filesystem (instead of
exporting the filesystem root), that also usually adds 4 to 8
- If you export over NFSv2, knfsd usually uses a shorter
filesystem identifier that saves 8 bytes.
- The root directory of an export uses a filehandle that is
As you can see, the 128-byte NFSv4 filehandle is large enough that
you're unlikely to have trouble using NFSv4 to reexport any filesystem
exported from a Linux server. In general, if the original server is
something that also supports NFSv3, you're *probably* OK. Re-exporting
over NFSv3 may be dicier, and reexporting over NFSv2 will probably
never work.
For more details of Linux filehandle structure, the best reference is
the source code and comments; see in particular:
- include/linux/exportfs.h:enum fid_type
- include/uapi/linux/nfsd/nfsfh.h:struct nfs_fhbase_new
- fs/nfsd/nfsfh.c:set_version_and_fsid_type
- fs/nfs/export.c:nfs_encode_fh
Open DENY bits ignored
NFS since NFSv4 supports ALLOW and DENY bits taken from Windows, which
allow you, for example, to open a file in a mode which forbids other
read opens or write opens. The Linux client doesn't use them, and the
server's support has always been incomplete: they are enforced only
against other NFS users, not against processes accessing the exported
filesystem locally. A reexport server will also not pass them along to
the original server, so they will not be enforced between clients of
different reexport servers.