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.