"Filesystems that can be shared over networks are more
properly known as "distributed filesystems" because shared files
and directories are available on (or distributed across) many
different computers on a network. Most distributed filesystems
are examples of client/server computing, where servers export files
and directories and accept updates to them, while clients import
files and directories and send updates."
"The history of distributed filesystems on commercial Unix and
Unix-like systems began with the proprietary Domain network
filesystems introduced on Apollo workstations in the early 1980s.
It continues through Sun MicroSystems' NFS (Network Filesystems),
introduced in the mid 1980s, and culminates in more sophisticated,
higher-performance network-based filesystems such as IBM's AFS,
Carnegie Mellon University's CODA, and Stelias Computing's
InterMezzo. NFS was the first open implementation of a
networked filesystem; its specifications and protocols were
publicly available, and NFS was therefore quickly supported on many
different types of computer systems."
"Distributed filesystems provide significant advantages to
almost everyone who uses or manages computers. They enable users to
access their data files in exactly the same way from different
computers. If the machine on your desk fails, just use another;
your files are still intact and safe on the centralized file
server. Maximizing information sharing and availability on college
campuses was the genesis of many of the projects that led to the
filesystems described in this article."