How to Use Network Block Device (NBD) to Mount and Manage Remote Devices as Local One

Ever wondered how you can access remote storage devices as if they were local to your own system? Look no further! In this article, we’ll show you how to use Network Block Device (NBD) to achieve just that. You’ll learn how to mount and manage remote devices on your system as if they were local, allowing you to expand your storage options and improve data accessibility. Let’s dive into this exciting topic!

Understanding Network Block Device (NBD)

Network Block Device (NBD) is a Linux tool that allows you to export a block device over the network so that another host can use it as if it were a local device. NBD is perfect for situations where you need to access a remote storage device but don’t want to deal with the complexity of mounting network file systems like NFS or Samba. With NBD, you can mount a remote device on your system as if it were a local disk, making it easier to manage your data and devices.


Before we start, make sure you have the following:

  • Two Linux machines (server and client) with network access
  • Access to an account with administrator (root) privileges on both machines
  • Basic knowledge of Linux command line

Installing and Configuring NBD

Next, we’ll walk you through the installation and configuration of NBD on both machines: the server (host that exports the device) and the client (host that mounts the exported device).

Installing NBD on both hosts

First, you’ll need to install the NBD software on both machines. To do this, follow these steps:

On Debian and Debian-based distributions (like Ubuntu):

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nbd-server nbd-client

On Red Hat-based distributions (like Fedora, CentOS, or RHEL):

sudo dnf install nbd-server nbd-client

Configuring the NBD server

Now that you have NBD installed on both machines, it’s time to configure the server. Follow these steps:

Create a configuration file for the device you want to export:

sudo nano /etc/nbd-server/config

Add the following configuration to the file, replacing /dev/sdX with the device you want to export:

user = nbd
group = nbd
includedir = /etc/nbd-server/conf.d

exportname = /dev/sdX
readonly = false
multifile = false
copyonwrite = false

Save the file and restart the NBD server:

sudo systemctl restart nbd-server

Configuring the NBD client

With the server configured, you can now connect the client to the exported device. Follow these steps:

On the client, connect to the device exported by the server. Replace <SERVER_IP> with the server’s IP address and /dev/nbd0 with the device you want to use on the client (you can use /dev/nbd0, /dev/nbd1, etc.):

sudo nbd-client <SERVER_IP> 10809 /dev/nbd0

Once connected, you can use /dev/nbd0 on the client as if it were a local device. For example, if you want to mount a specific partition, like /dev/nbd0p1, run the following:

sudo mkdir /mnt/remote_device
sudo mount /dev/nbd0p1 /mnt/remote_device

That’s it! Now, any reads and writes performed on `/dev/nbd0` on the client will be redirected to the `/dev/sdX` device on the server.

Disconnecting and Unmounting the NBD Device on the Client

When you want to disconnect and unmount the NBD device, follow these steps on the client:

Unmount the mounted device:

sudo umount /mnt/remote_device

Disconnect the NBD device:

sudo nbd-client -d /dev/nbd0

This will disconnect the device on the client and allow the server to safely use it.

Security Considerations

Keep in mind that NBD does not encrypt data transfers, so it’s advisable to use it on a secure network or through a VPN connection. If you need to securely transmit data between the server and the client, consider using encryption solutions like SSHFS or setting up a VPN connection between both hosts.

In this article, we’ve shown you how to use Network Block Device (NBD) to mount and manage remote devices as local ones. With NBD, you can make the most of your distributed storage resources and improve access to your data. You now have the skills to expand and optimize your storage infrastructure according to your needs. We hope you enjoyed this tutorial and wish you much success in your future network storage projects!

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