The terms client and server are used to describe the roles that a computer assumes when sharing file systems. Computers that share their file systems over a network are acting as servers. The computers that are accessing the file systems are said to be clients. The NFS service enables any computer to access any other computer's file systems. At the same time, the NFS service provides access to its own file systems. A computer can assume the role of client, server, or both client and server at any particular time on a network.
Clients access files on the server by mounting the server's shared file systems. When a client mounts a remote file system, the client does not make a copy of the file system. Rather, the mounting process uses a series of remote procedure calls that enable the client to access the file system transparently on the server's disk. The mount resembles a local mount. Users type commands as if the file systems were local. See Mounting File Systems for information about tasks that mount file systems.
After a file system has been shared on a server through an NFS operation, the file system can be accessed from a client. You can mount an NFS file system automatically with autofs. See Automatic File-System Sharing and Task Overview for Autofs Administration for tasks that involve the share command and autofs.