File systems that are shared through the NFS service can be mounted by using automatic mounting. Autofs, a client-side service, is a file system structure that provides automatic mounting. The autofs file system is initialized by automount, which is run automatically when a system is booted. The automount daemon, automountd, runs continuously, mounting and unmounting remote file systems as necessary.
Whenever a client system that is running automountd tries to access a remote file system, the daemon mounts the remote file system. This remote file system remains mounted for as long as needed. If the remote file system is not accessed for a certain period of time, it is automatically unmounted.
Mounting is not required at boot time, and the user no longer has to know the superuser password to mount a directory. Users do not need to use the mount and umount commands. The autofs service mounts and unmounts file systems as required without any intervention by the user.
Mounting some file systems with the automountd command does not exclude the possibility of mounting other systems with the mount command. A diskless computer must mount / (root), /usr, and /usr/kvm through the mount command and the /etc/vfstab file.
For more information about the autofs service, see: