The setup can be long and complicated, or quick and dirty depending on how much control you’d like to have. I cobbled together a Gentoo system to do the job last night. It’s fast enough to serve 300 MB files in well under 30 seconds, which is pretty good for a 300 Mhz K6-2 which until now has been serving me well as a doorstop.
So far its purpose has been to consolidate the various full-length movies and TV series I have on my sundry hard drives into one place. This has the dual benefit of freeing up the limited space on my laptop and desktop and keeping my movies in a fast, easy to access location. Gone are the days of: “Is This is Spinal Tap stored on the Laptop or the Desktop?” Now both can view it with ease. NFS servers go to 11.
Plus NFS scales easily. Don’t want to add a new hard drive to your desktop and your current one is bursting at the seams? Add a drive to the NFS box and the problem is solved. NFS makes great backup solution as well.
Gentoo has a great guide on sharing directories with NFS.
Apparently, you can do this with Windows, though it sounds like a bit of a headache. Funny how they only mention talking to UNIX in order to migrate away from it?