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Revision as of 10:06, 10 July 2012 by Iankent (talk | contribs) (Scope)



RFC 5716 introduces the Federated File System (FedFS, for short). FedFS is an extensible standardized mechanism by which system administrators construct a coherent namespace across multiple file servers using file system referrals.


  • Name: Ian Kent
  • Email:

Current status

  • Targeted release: Fedora 18
  • Last updated: Jul 10, 2012
  • Percentage of completion: 80%

Detailed Description

RFC 5716 introduces the Federated File System (FedFS, for short). FedFS is an extensible standardized mechanism by which system administrators construct a coherent namespace across multiple file servers using file system referrals.

A file system referral is like a symbolic link to another file system share, but it is not visible to applications. It behaves like an automounted directory where a new file system mount is done when an application first accesses that directory. The arguments of the mount operation are controlled by information returned by the file server.

Today, file system referral mechanisms exist in several network file system protocols. FedFS provides its namespace features by leveraging referral mechanisms already built in to network file system protocols. Thus no change to file system protocols or clients is required.

Currently, the Linux FedFS implementation supports only NFS version 4 referrals. More on NFS version 4 referrals can be found in RFC 3530. FedFS may support other network file system protocols in the future.

Benefit to Fedora

See detailed description. As this is an emerging standard, we want Fedora to be one of the first operating systems to support it.

Chuck Lever also points out that fedfs-utils is part of a larger, ongoing effort to build out storage administration features on Linux file servers. This includes, to name but a few:

  • The ability to manage NFS referrals either via FedFS or via a simple command line tool on file servers
  • Support for SMB2 in a FedFS framework
  • Support for NFSv4.1's fs_locations_info attribute
  • Client-side support for NFSv4 migration with transparent state migration
  • Support for transparent NFS client access to replicated file sets


Much of the work for this has already been done. Chuck Lever of Oracle has done an implementation of the required userspace tools for this, and a Fedora package of release 0.8.0 has been built. We'll probably also need to do some documentation and/or articles describing how to set up both the client and server for FedFS.

The upstream project website for this is here:

It contains license information, presentation slides, the FedFS LDAP schema, and a project roadmap.

Fedfs is, in many ways, an addition of automount functionality along the line of something that I believe (as the autofs maintainer both upstream and here in Fedora) has been needed for a long time, and that is a distributed autofs mount map resource manager and while fedfs isn't quite what I envisioned for autofs the functionality it provides is fairly close. Just how far integration with autofs will go isn't clear yet. At this stage the fedfs package cotains an autofs program map that is used to provide access to the namespace and that is sufficient to start with. An improvement to autofs that I plan on doing is to add native support to autofs for fedfs in order to provide earier discovery and access to the available fedfs namespaces.

How To Test

(FIXME: Make this less skeletal)

  1. set up fedfs domain and server(s)
  2. set up fedfs clients
  3. test that fedfs referrals work

User Experience

The casual Fedora user won't see any changes with this. This should only change the experience for someone who makes the effort to set up and use FedFS.


There are some kernel patches required which are fairly modest in scope and have been included in the upstream kernel since version 3.2.

There are also some changes needed to nfs-utils (specifically mountd) to allow it to process junctions. The change to nfs-utils required by version 0.8.0 has been done although nfs-utils will need to be rebuilt to recognise that the fedfs-utils plugin is now present.

Additionally, LDAP servers need to have the FedFS LDAP schema installed. The schema is not yet included in Openldap so users will need to manually add the schema which is included in the package fedfs-utils-common and placed in docs directory.

/etc/rpc needs to be updated to include the IANA-assigned fedfs RPC program number which was added in glibc-2.15-12, available since Fedora 17.

Contingency Plan

If this package isn't approved for inclusion, we simply won't ship fedfs-utils.


The package has a fairly comprehensive set of manpages, but we may also need to create some other "How-To" documentation.

Release Notes

  • We'll probably just want to mention that this release supports FedFS, and maybe provide a link to documentation for it (once there is some).

Comments and Discussion