The mount protocol establishes the initial logical connection between a server and a client. In Solaris, each machine has a server process, outside the kernel, performing the protocol functions
A mount operation includes the name of the remote directory to be mounted and the name of the server machine storing it. The mount request is mapped to the corresponding RPC and is forwarded to the mount server running on the specific server machine. The server maintains an export list that specifies local file systems that it exports for mounting, along with names of machines that are permitted to mount them. (In Solaris, this list is the /etc/dfs/dfstab, which can be edited only by a superuser.) The specification can also include access rights, such as read only. To simplify the maintenance of export lists and mount tables, a distributed naming scheme can be used to hold this information and make it available to appropriate clients.
Recall that any directory within an exported file system can be mounted remotely by an accredited machine. A component unit is such a directory. When the server receives a mount request that conforms to its export list, it returns to the client a file handle that serves as the key for further accesses to files within the mounted file system.
The file handle contains all the information that the server needs to distinguish an individual file it stores. In UNIX terms, the file handle consists of a file-system identifier and an inode number to identify the exact mounted directory within the exported file system
The server also maintains a list of the client machines and the corresponding currently mounted directories. This list is used mainly for administrative purposes—for instance, for notifying all clients that the server is going down. Only through addition and deletion of entries in this list can the server state be affected by the mount protocol
Usually, a system has a static mounting preconfiguration that is established at boot time (/etc/vfstab in Solaris); however, this layout can be modified. In addition to the actual mount procedure, the mount protocol includes several other procedures, such as unmount and return export list.