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Can you use a network share as location for users' home

1419 Views 11 Replies Latest reply: Feb 10, 2014 6:17 AM by Mtjoernelund RSS
Mtjoernelund Calculating status...
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Dec 26, 2012 3:15 AM

I am running a Mac mini with Mountain Lion and Server.app as a home server. For added storage space I have a NAS. I would like to set up the open directory network users' home share on the NAS. Is that even possible?

I am able to mount the network share on the mini using either afp or nfs, and I can also add the NAS share as a home folder enabled share in the server.app and select that as location for a users home folder, but that only results in the user not being able to log on to his account. Is there something that I am missing or is what I am trying to accomplish simply not possible?

OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2)
  • FromOZ Level 2 Level 2 (400 points)

    I am building up my knowledge of OS X server (previous experience with Windows AD & Linux) so I am speaking from my current understanding (that is by way of disclaimer).

     

    To answer your question, it is my understanding that you can, if the account type is a server 'local network user' type. If you choose/use this type then the user's home folder is hosted on the server.

     

    As to whether OS X server can/will use a NAS for that I don't know. Try it to the server's directly attached HDD first.

  • infinite vortex Level 7 Level 7 (21,400 points)

    I would think at a minimum you'll need your NAS to be able to join/connect to your OD for the user account records. Is the user account able to authenticate with the NAS as user/password (rather than some other account to log into the NAS) and able to follow the same ACL rules as an OS X Server file share would?

     

    For instance, if you have a user "jdoe" with an ID of 1035 it's going to need to connect to your NAS as user ID 1035 and the same password and then be able to write files to the NAS with owner ID 1035 etc in the directory you've designated as its home directory.

  • infinite vortex Level 7 Level 7 (21,400 points)

    In fact if all is well, you shouldn't even need to have created anything on the NAS drive. The moment you log in to the account it should autocreate itself. Whe it comes to passwords, this is why it's always best to use NAS drives that are capable of joining LDAP directories as user data will simoly come from the OD it connects to.

  • John Lockwood Level 5 Level 5 (5,075 points)

    Normally the NAS would need to be able to link to Open Directory so it can use the same user accounts for authentication. Unfortunately I am not aware of any NAS boxes that can do this despite the fact that nearly all NAS boxes run on Linux and 'real' Linux can do this via the same OpenLDAP software that Open Directory itself is based on.

     

    I have personally suggested to NetGear that they should do this, they do already do this for Active Directory but not Open Directory.

     

    There is a workaround that you could explore, historically, with NAS boxes to get round this you would tell the Mac Server to first connect to the NAS box via NFS, you would then 'reshare' the NAS box via AFP from the Mac server. So the clients would 'think' they are using a volume on the Mac server but the files would actually be stored on the NAS box.

     

    Note: Even though Apple do not make it obvious, Mountain Lion can still act as both an NFS client (as will be used in this case) and an NFS server. In fact it supports a newer version of NFS than Snow Leopard.

     

    You would have to manually setup an NFS mount at bootup to do this. A shellscript and a launchdaemon should be sufficient.

     

    With some NAS boxes a very similar alternative would be to use iSCSI from the Mac server to the NAS box, some NAS boxes can act as an iSCSI server e.g. the NetGear ReadyNAS Pro range, but the Mac does not have an iSCSI client included as standard so you would have to buy a Mac iSCSI client/initiator.

  • John Lockwood Level 5 Level 5 (5,075 points)

    It used to be officially supported to use NFS for clients to access their network home directories but with Lion (and Mountain Lion) this was no longer officially supported.

     

    Therefore the need as I mentioned to 're-share' the volume via AFP. As you implied this does unfortunately impose an additional network overhead as traffic has to go as follows.

     

    client ----> AFP ----> Server -----> NFS -----> NAS

     

    What you could consider to help at least a little bit is to connect the server to the NAS on a totally separate network to the network the server uses to talk to the clients on. The main network would be between the server and clients, and you would use a second Ethernet connection just link the NAS and the server. As the clients will not need to talk directly to the NAS this will not be a problem. This would at least mean that each network only gets one set of traffic either AFP or NFS but not both and means the server can use both at full speed at the same time.

     

    The Mac Pro still has two built-in 1Gbps Ethernet ports but you can also get either a USB3 Ethernet adaptor or a Thunderbolt to Ethernet adaptor (I have used one of these on a Mac mini server).

     

    If you did not already have the NAS then people starting from new would be better off either getting a Thunderbolt RAID which can be directly attached to the Mac server, or at the higher-end go the traditional route of setting up a SAN and using an FDDI connection.

     

    Note: You can now get Thunderbolt to FDDI interfaces.

  • raôul Calculating status...

    Dear Mtjoernlund, i am now in the process of reaching the same as you about a year ago. the exact same issue i have. trying to have the user home folder on the NAS and still keep the mac mini server as OD master. i get also the same issue for not being able to log in. Could you support on how to set this up?

    Regards,

     

    Raôul

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