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    SubjectLinux On-Demand Network Access (LODNA)
    Recent discussion on ReiserFS 4 has focused on the
    advantages and disadvantages of VFS at the kernel
    level versus the Desktop Environment (DE) level. I
    believe network locations should be administered by
    the kernel in a proposed framework called Linux
    On-Demand Network Access (LODNA), which would achieve
    seamless network integration regardless (or even in
    the absence) of DEs, thus increasing usability.


    When VFS is implemented at the KDE/GNOME level, we
    end up with the unfortunate situation where only
    applications native to that DE can access its VFS
    files. For example, Mozilla and Firefox (which are
    GTK-based) can't access network locations set up under
    KDE (see
    Making an application aware of non-native VFS requires
    serious amount of work, not only to use the other DE's
    libraries, but also to embed miniature network clients
    for every protocol the application supports.

    The same problem appears in OpenOffice: even though it
    can use the KDE filepicker, whenever it accesses a
    file on an SSH network location, a message pops up
    saying "Protocol 'fish' is supported only partially.
    Local copy of the file will be created."

    If Mozilla/Firefox and OpenOffice, which are some of
    the most popular applications and which have a strong
    developer base, haven't yet been able to achieve
    cross-VFS compatibility, you can be certain that other
    applications are in the same or worse situation.

    These two examples show why VFS at the DE level is a
    temporary hack that only hides the need for such
    functionality in the kernel. This hassle can be
    completely avoided if the kernel provides standard I/O
    functions for files in network locations
    (ssh/webdav/ftp/smb/...) because opening and saving
    network files would then become completely transparent
    (i.e. no different from accessing a local file) from
    the application's point of view.

    Having this functionality in the kernel would be a
    huge usability plus: we would solve all these problems
    in one swish, save application developers a lot of
    time, and give users the peace of mind to know that
    they can seamlessly access their network files no
    matter what application they use.

    PROPOSAL: Linux On-Demand Network Access (LODNA)

    Users would be able to mount network locations under
    directories they own. For example, to create a network
    location on my home computer pointing to my work
    computer (via ssh), I would do:
    mount -t ssh

    From then on, whenever I change directory to
    /home/username/net/remote_computer, I would be able to
    see the files in my computer at work as if they were
    local - no more need for fancy VPN!

    Similarly, I would also be able to do:
    mount -t smbfs
    mount -t webdav
    mount -t ftp

    Advantages of LODNA:

    1) Network locations would be fixed in the directory
    tree, rather than float around in a DE abstraction
    like fish:/ .
    2) Remote files would be accessible by all
    applications, even the shell.
    3) LODNA would be independent of Desktop Environments
    (although if present, they could provide GUIs for
    things that could otherwise be done from the command
    line). For example, KDE could use its existing "Add a
    Network Folder" wizard to help users mount network
    4) The user could give or deny other local users
    access to his remote locations simply by setting the
    permissions of the mount point (eg. chmod 700
    5) LODNA would help users who want to access files on
    their Local Area Network but who don't know the exact
    name or IP address of the destination computer. Such
    users could use KDE's Konqueror File Manager
    ( with the Smb4k
    ( plugin to discover all the
    samba servers on their LAN. They could then simply
    right-click on a server/share and select "Mount",
    which would take them to the "Add a Network Folder"
    6) LODNA would combine the transparency of NFS with
    the flexibility of SSH/SMB/WebDav/FTP.
    7) LODNA would allow users to build and manage their
    own VPN client.


    Linux On-Demand Network Access (LODNA) is a proposed
    kernel-based method for accessing network locations.
    It would provide transparent, unified network access
    to all applications and pave the way for highly
    intuitive GUIs for managing diverse networks. As a
    built-in, multi-protocol VPN client, LODNA would
    greatly help employees who work from home, and be a
    much needed step towards making Linux viable on the

    For now, LODNA is only a concept, but the pieces
    needed to make it happen already exist - they just
    need to be integrated into the kernel, perhaps as a
    ReiserFS 4 plugin or by another method. I welcome your


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