Now, however, most Unix installations have a server dedicated to mail processing, and the mail boxes, user home directories, and password files are shared by all the workstations. To mail to a user who has a login anywhere in your local network you just type
% mail fredas if fred is the login ID of another user who logs in to your workstation.
The NFS software is also used to provide a very flexible and more robust working environment. A common organization is to put users' home directories on a file server, i.e. every workstation mounts the home directory (e.g. /home/users) via NFS. Now wherever you log in, your home directory will ``follow you'' to that system. Suppose you normally work in your office, but one morning you come in and the CRT on your workstation is broken. You can go to a workstation or X terminal down the hall, log in there and get right to work.
Microcomputer operating systems have similar facilities for automatic access of remote files. For example, files are identified by ICONS on the Macintosh desktop. Networking software will display ICONS for files and folders that reside on other Macintosh systems in the local network. There are also programs that will translate between Mac O/S file structures and Unix file systems so the files can actually reside on Unix file servers. If you create and use files exclusively with Macintosh applications this won't pose any problems, but you need to be careful if you want to create a file on the Mac and read it with a Unix application or vice versa, since the file formats are radically different. You will probably need to use FTP or one of the other file transfer programs described in Section 3.1.3 because these programs translate file formats as they move data between systems.