The Andrew Filesystem

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An Inessential Guide to Athena

Fifth Edition

The Andrew Filesystem

AFS, the Andrew Filesystem, is a filesystem developed at Carnegie Mellon's Project Andrew. Like NFS, AFS is a network filesystem, or, as it is usually called, a distributed filesystem. This means that the files you have access to through AFS do not actually reside on the workstation you are using. They are located, instead, on a remote server and are available from a wide area.

AFS works differently from other network filesystems that have been used at Athena. Most notably, you don't have to attach AFS filesystems; they are always available from the workstation under the directory /afs. Another major difference between AFS and other distributed filesystems is that groups of AFS files can be replicated onto multiple servers in such a way that makes the failure of one server unnoticeable to a user. In addition, files and directory structures are cached locally to minimize network traffic to the server. This makes access to AFS files very fast after the first time a file is read.