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Manual Reference Pages  -  NBD-CLIENT (8)


nbd-client - connect to a server running nbd-server(1), to use its exported block device




nbd-client host [ port ] nbd-device [ -sdp ] [ -swap ] [ -persist ] [ -nofork ] [ -block-size block size ] [ -timeout seconds ] [ -name name ]

nbd-client -d nbd-device

nbd-client -c nbd-device

nbd-client -l host [ port ]


With nbd-client, you can connect to a server running nbd-server, thus using raw diskspace from that server as a blockdevice on the local client.

To do this, support from the Linux Kernel is necessary, in the form of the Network Block Device (NBD). When you have that, either in the kernel, or as a module, you can connect to an NBD server and use its exported file through a block special file with major mode 43.

Optionally, long options can also be specified with two leading dashes.


The following options are supported:
-block-size block size
  Use a blocksize of "block size". Default is 1024; allowed values are either 512, 1024, 2048 or 4096
host The hostname or IP address of the machine running nbd-server. Since 2.9.15, the NBD utilities support IPv6.
-timeout seconds
  Set the connection timeout to "seconds". For this to work, you need a kernel with support for the NBD_SET_TIMEOUT ioctl; this was introduced into Linus’ tree on 2007-10-11, and will be part of kernel 2.6.24.
port The TCP port on which nbd-server is running at the server.

For the deprecated oldstyle protocol, passing a port number is required. In the oldstyle protocol, exports are defined by the port on which they are running.

For the newstyle protocol, the port number defaults to 10809, the IANA-assigned port number for the NBD protocol. The newstyle protocol is selected automatically by nbd-client when one of the -list or -name options are used.

  The block special file this nbd-client should connect to.
Check whether the specified nbd device is connected.

If the device is connected, nbd-client will exit with an exit state of 0 and print the PID of the nbd-client instance that connected it to stdout.

If the device is not connected or does not exist (for example because the nbd module was not loaded), nbd-client will exit with an exit state of 1 and not print anything on stdout.

If an error occurred, nbd-client will exit with an exit state of 2, and not print anything on stdout either.

  Disconnect the specified nbd device from the server
Ask the server for a list of available exports. If the server is exporting over IPv6 as well as over IPv4, this will list all exports twice; otherwise, it should list them all only once.

Note that this option only works with nbd-server processes running version 3.1 or above, and must be enabled in server configuration (with the "allowlist" option) before it can be used.

  When this option is specified, nbd-client will immediately try to reconnect an nbd device if the connection ever drops unexpectedly due to a lost server or something similar.
Connect to the server using the Socket Direct Protocol (SDP), rather than IP. See nbd-server(5) for details.
Specifies that this NBD device will be used as swapspace. This option attempts to prevent deadlocks by performing mlockall() and adjusting the oom-killer score at an appropriate time. It does not however guarantee that such deadlocks can be avoided.
  Specifies that the NBD client should not detach and daemonize itself. This is mostly useful for debugging.

Note that nbd-client will still fork once to trigger an update to the device node’s partition table. It is not possible to disable this.

Specifies the name of the export that we want to use. Required if the port is not specified; changes the default port for newstyle negotiation from 10809 in the other case.

When this option is specified, nbd-client uses the newstyle version of the negotiation protocol. This version is much more flexible than the oldstyle negotiation, and should be used for new configurations.


Some examples of nbd-client usage:
o To connect to a server running on port 2000 at host "", using the client’s block special file "/dev/nbd0":

nbd-client 2000 /dev/nbd0

o To connect to a server running on port 2001 at host "", using the client’s block special file "/dev/nbd1", for swap purposes:

nbd-client 2001 /dev/nbd1 -swap

o To disconnect the above connection again (after making sure the block special file is not in use anymore):

nbd-client -d /dev/nbd1




The NBD kernel module and the NBD tools have been written by Pavel Macheck (

The kernel module is now maintained by Paul Clements (, while the userland tools are maintained by Wouter Verhelst (

This manual page was written by Wouter Verhelst (<>) for the Debian GNU/Linux system (but may be used by others). Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2, as published by the Free Software Foundation.

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