Persistent NFS mount points on macOS

Using vifs and fstab to mount NFS shares

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

After finishing my blog post “Automount with launchd” I talked about it with my friend Herman. The launchd solution had a code-smell which usually is not a good sign. It works fine but it has too much dependencies.

The launchd path and just running a script to mount the NFS shares seemed a better solution. At least no longer a workaround.

I tried mounting NFS with the mount command but the results were somewhat unexpected.

Another search-result brought me to Will Haley’s page “Mount an NFS Share on a Mac using the Terminal

On that page Will describes how to make the NFS mount persistent, in other words surviving reboots.

Persistance through /etc/fstab

To make the NFS mount point persistent you only need to edit the file /etc/fstab. Do not edit the file directly, use sudo vifs to edit the file. As you might have guessed vifs uses the vi syntax.

The different fields of an fstab line:

  • field 1: fs_spec, the remote filesystem
  • field 2: fs_file, the mountpoint for the filesystem
  • field 3: fs_vfstype, the type of the filesystem
  • field 4: fs_mntops, the mountoptions in a comma separated list

Detailed information is available via man fstab.

My /etc/fstab after adding my mount points with vifs:

$ cat /etc/fstab
# Warning - this file should only be modified with vifs(8)
# Failure to do so is unsupported and may be destructive.
# /System/Volumes/Data/Nandi/calibre nfs rw,nolockd,resvport,hard,bg,intr,rw,tcp,nfc,rsize=65536,wsize=65536 /System/Volumes/Data/Nandi/docker nfs rw,nolockd,resvport,hard,bg,intr,rw,tcp,nfc,rsize=65536,wsize=65536 /System/Volumes/Data/Nandi/web nfs rw,nolockd,resvport,hard,bg,intr,rw,tcp,nfc,rsize=65536,wsize=65536

Triggering the NFS mount points:

sudo automount -cv

Checking the mount points:

$ mount
map -static on /System/Volumes/Data/Nandi/web (autofs, automounted, nobrowse)
map -static on /System/Volumes/Data/Nandi/docker (autofs, automounted, nobrowse)
map -static on /System/Volumes/Data/Nandi/calibre (autofs, automounted, nobrowse)

If you are looking for a way to mount SMB shares I did not see a way to add it via fstab. For that I suggest to go for the launchd solution.


It took me a long time to get to this solution but the final result is very satisfying, no more code smell!