Using DFS in OS X Lion

DFS stands for Distributed File Sharing. DFS is most commonly used to virtualize the way with which storage is presented to users. Once virtualized, mounts are able to replicate to one another or be moved between servers without impacting the end user experience. While many who have never used DFS will wonder why enterprises actually care about it, those of us who have used it extensively will be stoked that this new feature has been incorporated into OS X Lion.

Using DFS in OS X is similar to using DFS in Windows, simply connect to a share and the work on the back end to locate where the share is actually stored is done on the server. Use Command-K (or Connect to Server from the Go menu) to bring up the Connect to Server dialog box. Enter the name of the server. You’ll be presented with a list of shares. Pick one and viola, you’re using DFS. The ease of use is why people like it. Well, that and the replication…

Now, connecting to DFS is sure to be rife with problems. For troubleshooting, Apple has provided the wonderful smbutil from Valentines Day 2000 (ya’, it’s that old). smbutil comes complete with a dfs command that can be used to lookup dfs referrals. Use smbutil followed by the dfs command and then a url to check roots and links. For example, let’s say we have a box called myDFSbox.krypted.com. And let’s say that myDFSbox has a root called losangeles and a link called engineering. The command to check the referrals would be:

smbutil dfs smb://myDFSbox.krypted.com/losangeles/engineering

You can also inject the username and password for the domain between the protocol (smb://) and the host name (myDFSbox.krypted.com). While smbutil is helpful, I haven’t yet run into any issues where OS X didn’t enumerate the DFS environment on its own. But then, it is new and so there’s plenty of time to find issues.

6 Comments

  • macguitarman
    August 2, 2011 - 2:58 pm | Permalink

    It seems I can do exactly the same thing in 10.6 snow leopard, via Connect to Server, all the DFS volume(s) list.

    If you know the AD domain controller’s name.

    I still do not see what has changed or is different in Lion with DFS.

    Where are the Open Directory controls in Lion Server, do not see them?

    How can one import their current Wiki in SL Server to Lion Server?

    Active Director binding (login) is broken in Lion

    How do you like Minnesota after leaving LA. I am here in LA (and a Minn Vikings fan), right now though it looks like the Vikings are going to leave for LA.

    You may have seen this, dfstool 1.1, does not work in yet.

    http://jescala.com/2011/08/updated-dfstool-v1-1-now-available/

    • June 29, 2012 - 7:49 am | Permalink

      OD Controls: Server Admin Tools (seperate download)
      Wiki Upgrade: Check out the migration guide, it covers wiki in painstaking detail

      Vikings got a new stadium! Love Minnesota. Still get to LA a lot though. Especially when it gets to like -30ish… :)

  • Gio Arteaga
    November 18, 2011 - 10:49 am | Permalink

    Thank you for pointing out the tool. While mounting a DFS link works from the finder, it is not working when users login to AD. In other words, our domain AD users have a declared home folder and when they log in to the OS X Lion box, the map home folder does not show up. Any idea? Is it a bug? How do we report this?

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  • Oliver
    April 17, 2012 - 3:43 am | Permalink

    I know that DFS is strictly a Microsoft thing, but we use it extensively and would love the same capability with our fledgling cluster of afp shares. Especially with our munki and deploy studio setups over on satellite campuses.

    The only reasonable alternative I’ve been able to work out is a simple round robin DNS. Nothing as elecent as the real deal I’m afraid.

    I’m only starting to look into extreme-Ip, so I’m aware of it, but not sure how it could be implemented in our paranoid environment just yet. So other alternatives would be appreciated.

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