Ubuntu – Which to use NFS or Samba


I am setting up a box to be a file server at the house. It will mainly be used to share music, pictures, movies with other linux boxes on the network, and one OS X machine. From what I have read NFS and samba would work in my situation, and as such I am not sure which to choose. What is important to me is the speed transfers between boxes and how difficult it is to setup.

Which would you recommend and why?

Best Answer

In a closed network (where you know every device), NFS is a fine choice. With a good network, throughput it disgustingly fast and at the same time less CPU intensive on the server. It's very simple to set up and you can toggle readonly on shares you don't need to be writeable.

I disagree with Anders. v4 can be just as simple as v3. It only gets complicated if you want to start layering on security through LDAP/gssd. It's capable of very complex and complete security mechanisms... But you don't need them. They're actually turned off by default.

sudo apt-get install nfs-kernel-server

Then edit /etc/exports to configure your shares. Here's a line from my live version that shares my music:


This shares that path with anybody on 192.168.0.* in a readonly (notice the ro) way.

When you've finished editing, restart NFS:

sudo /etc/init.d/nfs-kernel-server restart

To connect a client, you need the NFS gubbins (not installed by default):

sudo apt-get install nfs-common

And then add a line to /etc/fstab  /media/music  nfs ro,hard,intr 0 0

This is actually the NVSv3 client still because I'm lazy but it's compatible in this scenario. is the NFS server (my desktop in this case). And you'll need to make sure the mount path (/media/music here) exists.

For a Mac, follow this: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/apple-in-the-enterprise/mounting-nfs-volumes-in-os-x/

It's much more simple than some older tutorials would have you believe.

It might look more complicated than it really is but it's solid, predictable and fast. Something you can't level against Samba... At least, in my experience.

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