Connection to UNIX via NFS

by Johannes Helmig [Published on 15 May 1998 / Last Updated on 15 May 1998]

When you like to connect to a UNIX system ( the "grand-pa" of all Multi-User/ Multi-tasking/ Network- operating systems, which was already well established when Bill Gates wrote his first line of code), you have to decide:

UNIX and MS Windows (in all versions) are NOT compatible and cannot directly communicate with each other:

To have these system communicate with each other, one system needs to be adapted to support the "Communications Language" of the other system:

Make UNIX understand Microsoft Windows Networking

This is possible by installing on the UNIX system:

I am NOT covering this, because this site is covering MS Windows and I will therefore not go into the details of the UNIX-commands to install and configure SAMBA(which you get for free as source-code and which you have to compile YOURSELF on tour UNIX system).
For more details on SAMBA:

Make Microsoft Windows understand UNIX Networking

you need to use:
- TCP/IP protocol
- NFS Client (Network File System)
NFS is the standard method for UNIX systems to connect to each other, and now you need a PC/ Windows version to establish a connection from a Windows95/WindowsNT system.

While TCP/IP is included in both Windows95/WindowsNT4 (otherwise Microsoft would have serious marketing/sales problems in this new world of the "Internet" connectivity, which is based on TCP/IP), there is NO "Client for NFS" included with Windows95 or Windows NT4, nor does Microsoft offer any such NFS-client as additional product.

There are several companies offering NFS-client (have a look at shareware sites like or for more details).
I am covering here the NFS-client, which I have used already myself (other client use similar setup-parameters, because they all need to do the same job: use NFS, so the following information may be also helpful , if you are using a different NFS Client):

Solstice Network/NFS Client

"Sun Microsystems" ( is a major player in the UNIX workstation market and played the major role with NFS ( actually NFS was originally developed by Sun).
"SunSoft" , a subsidiary of Sun ( offers a full suite of connectivity software, which includes:
- Solstice Network Client (NFS Client) (
A 30-day evaluation copy can be downloaded:

The following pages cover the installation of the Solstice NFS Client for both Windows95 and WindowsNT4, because the setup/configuration is mostly identical, exceptions are shown separately.

Start: I assume, that the network-board has already been installed and configured and that the TCP/IP protocol is installed.

Editing the HOSTS-file
In my examples, the UNIX system does NOT include a DNS server( so it is required to edit the "hosts"-file on the Windows-system ,location of "hosts"-file is covered below) and does NOT include a DHCP-server (so it is required to manually assign the IP-addresses):

example of Editing Hosts:
- name/ip of the UNIX-server: ggtbel00
- name/ip of the Windows-PC: am01

NOTE: the "hosts"-file is a simple TEXT-file. When adding a new line, make sure that you press the <ENTER>-key at the end of each line (which is sometimes missed-out when using the NOTEPAD-editor), otherwise the system will NOT read that line properly, i.e. it will NOT be able to translate that name into the IP-address !

Lets verify (and TEST) the network-setup BEFORE installing the NFS-Client:
In the "Control-Panel", select the Network-applet:


Please, click on the Icon to select
Windows95 or WindowsNT4

Editing the HOSTS-file
Installation of Solstice NFS Client 3.1
Network Client-Cache
Customize Solstice NFS Client 3.1
Browsing the UNIX Network
And for a multi-server setup: Networking to UNIX and Novell Netware

Windows95 Start

Make sure, that you have installed
- Client for Microsoft Networks
- your Network-Adapter
- TCP/IP-protocol

Verify the TCP/IP properties tab "IP-address" define the IP-address of the Windows-PC, subnet-mask should be the default ( define (and ADD) the IP-address of the UNIX-server as Gateway address

Verify, that the connection to the UNIX-server is 'valid' (that the TCP/IP setup is correct and that the network-board and cables work properly) by 'Pinging' the UNIX-server:

On Windows95, a sample of a hosts file called hosts.sam is created during the installation of TCP/IP in your WINDOWS-directory, just make a copy to the name hosts, then edit hosts. Make a "ping" to the UNIX-server, first using the IP-address and then also using the UNIX-server name (to verify, the the name-resolution via "hosts" is working properly).

WindowsNT4 Start

Once you have installed on a WindowsNT4 system the network-adapter, all required Network- "Services" are installed. Make sure, that TCP/IP-protocol is installed and configured properly with:
- IP-address of the Windows NT system
- Subnet-mask (default:
- as "Gateway", enter the IP-address of the Unix-server

Verify under the tab:"Bindings",that all components are active and have a "binding"

Make sure, that you located the "hosts"-file (installed during TCP/IP-setup in the
DRIVERS/ETC directory of the WindowsNT Systems32 directory) and that Hosts has been edited to define the names of the UNIX-server and Windows NT system.
Verify, that the connection to the UNIX-server is 'valid' (that the TCP/IP setup is correct and that the network-board and cables work properly) by 'Pinging' the UNIX-server:

"ping" using the IP-address and also using the UNIX-server name (testing, that the name-resolution via "hosts" is working properly).

See Also

The Author — Johannes Helmig

Dr.Johannes Helmig is working as Director, Technical Knowledge Management in the Belgium office of Gerber Technology where he is involved in Customer Service and internal training, with special interest in Networking.


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