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manta-nfs implements a NFS vers. 3 server that uses Joyent Manta as the backing store. The server implements all NFS functionality, although some OS-level commands, such as chmod, will have no effect since Manta does not support that concept. The server is implemented in node.js and requires v0.10.x.


The server is a process that runs locally on your laptop, in your zone, or on a standalone system, and services NFS requests. The server then acts as a gateway for those requests back into Manta. Manta objects are cached locally in the machine's file system so that all NFS operations can be supported. Unlike Manta, the server provides the typical POSIX write semantics via its use of the local object cache.

The server cannot run on a system that is already acting as a NFS server since there would be a conflict on the required ports. In this case, the server will detect the existing server and exit.

The server includes a built-in portmapper, but it will also interoperate transparently with the system's portmapper (usually rpcbind) if one is running. The server also includes a built-in mountd and nfsd. There is no lockd provided by the server.

By default, the server only listens on the localhost address and only serves files locally. However, it can be configured to serve files to external hosts.

Because the server caches Manta objects locally, care must be taken when accessing Manta in different ways or from different locations. There is no attempt to be coherent across multiple systems. Given this, you should not run more than one instance of the server for the same Manta user. Likewise, you should not write to the same object using both NFS and the CLI. Reading objects using both NFS and the CLI is obviously fine.

If you write an object using one mechanism (e.g. NFS) and immediately read it using another (e.g. the CLI), you may not see the same data. The server holds an object locally for a period of time before writing it back to Manta. Likewise, if you update an existing object using the CLI, the server might have a stale copy in its cache. In this case you can wait for the server to notice the object has changed, or you can force the server to refresh its cached copy by simply touching the file.

Getting Started

Clone the repo then run npm install within the clone to build all of the dependencies. The 'Configuration' section of this readme describes how to configure the server before you can run it. The 'Usage' section of this readme describes how to start the server and how to perform an NFS mount.


At a minimum the server needs the configuration information necessary to connect to a Manta account. If the Manta environment variables are already set up, the server will use those and no other configuration is needed.

In addition to the Manta account information, there are a variety of other configuration options. An example configuration file, showing all possible configuration options, is provided in etc/example.json, but you should not use that file to create your personal configuration. A simpler etc/template.json file is provided as a better starting point for your personal configuration. Each section of the configuration file is optional. The configuration file is specified to the server via the -f option:

node server.js -f etc/myconfig.json

Although most of the sections in etc/example.json should be self-explanatory, here is some additional information.

  • The manta section must be used to specify the required access information for Manta if the environment variables are not set. The configuration information takes precedence over the environment variables if both are set.

  • The database section can be used to configure where and how the server caches local copies of the Manta objects. The location, size of the cache, the time-to-live, writeback delay time, and number of parallel writebacks for the cache can be set in this section.

    The default cache is under /var/tmp/mfsd with a size limit of 5GB of local disk space. The time-to-live is the number of seconds a file will be cached before checking to see if it is stale. The default is twelve hours (43200 seconds). The writeback time is the number of seconds a dirty file will be cached before being written back to Manta. The default is one minute (60 seconds). If files are updated regularly (e.g. log files) then it might make sense to increase the timeout to reduce writeback traffic, but this also increases the window in which data only exists in the local cache. The number of parallel writebacks defaults to 2. That is, if there are multiple dirty files to writeback, two at a time will be written back.

    The cache size is not a hard limit. It is possible for more space to be used than is configured. For example, if an object is larger than the cache size, then if that object is pulled into the cache, the whole object must be downloaded and the space used by the object will be consumed. This would also force all of the other objects out of the cache, since the space used exceeds the size limit. Another example is with dirty files. These cannot be evicted from the cache until they have been uploaded back to Manta, so the cache space used can exceed the size limit until the objects have been completely uploaded.

  • The mount section's address field can be used to specify an address other than localhost for the server to listen on. Using '' tells the server to listen on all addresses. Both the mountd and nfsd within the server will listen on the given address. Since the server has full access to all of the user's Manta data, it is a good idea to limit foreign host access when listening on the external network. The hosts_allow or hosts_deny sections can be used to restrict access to the given IP addresses. The exports section can also be used to restrict access to the specified portions of the Manta filesystem.

  • The nfs section can be used to set the uid and gid values for 'nobody'. This is useful if NFS clients are running a different OS, which uses different values for 'nobody', as compared to the server (e.g. Darwin vs. Linux). Over NFS all files will appear to be owned by 'nobody' since there is no mechanism to map a Manta username to a local uid on the various clients, but within Manta all files continue to be owned by the user account. The fd-cache section can be used to configure the server's file descriptor cache, although this is normally not necessary.


When running the server for the first time, you probably want to run it by hand to confirm that the configuration is correct and things are working as expected. Once you know things are working correctly, you may want to set up a service so that the server runs automatically.

The server must be started as root since it needs access to the portmapper's privileged port. Once the server is running, it lowers its uid to 'nobody' to improve security. The sudo or pfexec commands are typically used to run a command as root, depending on which OS you're using.

If you're using the Manta environment variables as the source of your Manta account information and you're using sudo, use the -E option to pass those forward. On some Linux distributions sudo will reset 'HOME' to root's home directory. On those distributions you must also set HOME back to your home directory.

On Darwin or Linux, the server can be run with no config file like:

sudo -E HOME=/home/foo node server.js

On SmartOS, the server can be run like:

pfexec node server.js

To pass in a config file, use the -f option:

sudo node server.js -f etc/myconfig.json

All output logging is done via bunyan. Once started, the server will output an occasional log message, but the -d or -v options can be used to change the bunyan logging level to either 'debug' or 'trace'. Logging at either of these levels is not recommended, except during debugging, since there will be many log entries for each NFS operation. You may want to redirect the output from the server into a file:

sudo node server.js -d -f etc/myconfig.json >log 2>&1

To mount a Manta directory, use the standard NFS client mount command with a Manta path. The user name used here must be the same user as is configured for Manta access. For example, if Manta user 'foo' is configured, then to mount their 'public' directory:

sudo mount /mnt

Once you have confirmed that the server works as expected, you can set up a service on your system so that the server runs automatically when the system boots. Setting up a service like this is OS-specific and is discussed in that section for each operating system.


There are certain NFS operations that cannot be supported because Manta itself does not support the underlying concept. These are:

  • Changing the owner uid or gid of a file
  • Changing the mtime or atime of a file
  • Changing or setting the mode of a file
  • Creating a file exclusively (O_EXCL - will happen only in the cache)
  • Making devices, sockets or FIFOs
  • Renaming or moving directories
  • Symlinks and hardlinks

OS Specific Considerations

This section discusses any issues that are specific to running the server on a given operating system.

Darwin (OS X)

There is normally no portmapper running on Darwin so the server runs with its built-in portmapper.

The uid/gid for 'nobody' is -2.

Because you cannot rename a directory, creating new folders using Finder is problematic. The new folder will initially be created by Finder with the name untitled folder, but you will not be able to rename it. Instead, you must use a terminal window and the command line to create directories with the correct name.

The svc/launchd/com.joyent.mantanfs.plist file provides an example configuration for launchd(8). If necessary, edit the file and provide the correct paths to 'node', 'server.js' and your configuration file.

Note that this configuration will bring the service up only if an interface other than lo has an IPV4/IPV6 address. However the reverse is not true, and launchd will not bring down the service if the network goes away.

Run the following to load and start the service:

sudo cp svc/launchd/com.joyent.mantanfs.plist /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/
sudo launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.joyent.mantanfs.plist

Linux (including lx-branded zones)

Some distributions (e.g. Ubuntu or Centos) may not come pre-installed with the /sbin/mount.nfs command which is needed to perform a mount, while others (e.g. Fedora) may be ready to go. On Ubuntu, install the nfs-common package.

apt-get install nfs-common

On Centos, install the nfs-utils package. Depending on the choices described below, you may also need to install the rpcbind package.

yum install nfs-utils
yum install rpcbind

Based on the distribution's package manager and package dependencies, the 'rpcbind' command may have been installed and started. However, due to a mis-design in the Linux rpcbind code, the manta-nfs server will not be able to register with the system's rpcbind. There are two options to work around this:

  • Disable the system's rpcbind and let the server use its built-in portmapper. The method for disabling the system's rpcbind varies depending on the service manager that the system uses. If 'rpcbind' is in a seperate package from '/sbin/mount.nfs', then you could simply uninstall that package. To disable 'rpcbind' on Ubuntu you can run: stop portmap.

  • Run the system's rpcbind in 'insecure' mode using the -i option. The mechanism for specifying customized options for a service varies by distribution and release. The rpcbind configuration file may be named /etc/init/portmap.conf or /etc/sysconfig/rpcbind. For a distribution which uses traditional sysvinit rc files you may need to edit /etc/init.d/rpcbind and explicitly add the option to the invocation of rpcbind in the script.

    Here is an example entry for the /etc/sysconfig/rpcbind file. RPCBIND_ARGS="-i"

If running the manta-nfs server inside an lx-branded zone, the built-in portmapper may not work properly. In this case, the second option above (using the system's rpcbind) must be used.

On Linux the uid/gid for 'nobody' is 65534.

There is no lock manager included in the server, so you must disable locking when you mount. e.g.

mount -o nolock /home/foo/mnt

When mounting from inside an lx-branded zone you may need to explicitly specify that you want to use the NFSv3 protocol. e.g.

mount -o nolock,vers=3 /home/foo/mnt

To setup the server as a service, so that it runs automatically when the system boots, you need to hook into the system's service manager. Linux offers a variety of dfferent service managers, depending upon the distribution and release.

  • rc files

    The traditional Unix rc file mechanism is not really a service manager but it does provide a way to start or stop services when the system is booting or shutting down.

    The svc/rc/mantanfs file is a shell script that will start up the server. Make a copy of this file into /etc/init.d. If necessary, edit the file and provide the correct paths to 'node', 'server.js' and your configuration file.

    Symlink the following names to the 'mantanfs' file:

    ln -s /etc/rc3.d/S90mantanfs -> ../init.d/mantanfs
    ln -s /etc/rc4.d/S90mantanfs -> ../init.d/mantanfs
    ln -s /etc/rc5.d/S90mantanfs -> ../init.d/mantanfs
    ln -s /etc/rc0.d/K90mantanfs -> ../init.d/mantanfs
    ln -s /etc/rc1.d/K90mantanfs -> ../init.d/mantanfs
    ln -s /etc/rc2.d/K90mantanfs -> ../init.d/mantanfs
    ln -s /etc/rc6.d/K90mantanfs -> ../init.d/mantanfs

    The script directs the server log to '/var/log/mantanfs.log'.

  • Systemd

    See this wiki for more details on configuring and using systemd. Also see the systemd.unit(5) and systemd.service(5) man pages.

    The svc/systemd/mantanfs.service file provides an example configuration for systemd. Make a copy of this file into /lib/systemd/system. If necessary, edit the file and provide the correct paths to 'node', 'server.js' and your configuration file.

    Run the following to start the service:

    systemctl start mantanfs.service

    Since systemd has its own logging, you must use the 'journalctl' command to look at the logs.

    journalctl _SYSTEMD_UNIT=mantanfs.service
  • Upstart

    See this cookbook for more details on configuring and using upstart.

    The svc/upstart/mantanfs.conf file provides an example configuration for upstart. Make a copy of this file into /etc/init. If necessary, edit the file and provide the correct paths to 'node', 'server.js' and your configuration file.

    Run the following to start the service:

    initctl start mantanfs

    The server log should be available as '/var/log/upstart/mantanfs.log'.


In order to mount from the host, the system's 'rpcbind' must be running. The server's built-in portmapper cannot be used. If the svc is not already enabled, enable it.

svcadm enable network/rpc/bind

If you intend to serve external hosts, you must also ensure that the bind service is configured to allow access. To check this:

svccfg -s bind listprop config/local_only

If this is set to true, you need to change it to false.

svccfg -s bind setprop config/local_only=false
svcadm refresh bind

Due to a mis-design in the SmartOS mount code, mounting will fail on older platforms. If you see the following, you know your mount code is incorrect.

nfs mount: : RPC: Program not registered
nfs mount: retrying: /home/

You will either need to run on a newer platform or you can use this fixed NFS mount command explicitly. e.g.

pfexec ./mount /home/foo/mnt

For unmounting, you can use this fixed umount command explicitly.

On SmartOS the uid/gid for 'nobody' is 60001.

The svc/smf/manta-nfs.xml file provides an example configuration for smf(5). If necessary, edit the file and provide the correct paths to 'node', 'server.js' and your configuration file.

Run the following to load and start the service:

svccfg -v import svc/smf/manta-nfs.xml


Because of the POSIX dependencies in the server, the code does not currently build on Windows. However, the Windows NFS client can be used with a server running on a Unix-based host. Before you can use NFS you may need to set it up on your Windows system. The procedure varies by which version of Windows is in use. See the documentation for your release for the correct procedure to install NFS.

Once NFS is installed, you simply mount from the server as usual. Substitute the server's IP address and the correct user name in the following example:

C:\>mount \\\foo\public *
Z: is now successfully connected to \\\foo\public

The command completed successfully.

Windows will assign an unused drive letter for the mount. In this example the drive letter was Z:.

Windows Explorer has the same limitation as Darwin's Finder when creating a new folder. The new folder will initially be created by Explorer with the name New folder, but you will not be able to rename it. Instead, you must use a terminal window and the command line to create directories with the correct name.

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