Network information service

Network Information Service
Craig Hunt

What's the easiest way to administer your UNIX network? One of them is to use the NIS, discussed in this tip from TCP/IP Network Administration by Craig Hunt, published by O'Reilly Associates.


The Network Information Service (NIS)* is an administrative database that provides central control and automatic dissemination of important administrative files. NIS converts several standard UNIX files into databases that can be queried over the network. The databases are called NIS Maps. Some maps are created from files that you're familiar with from system administration, such as the password file ( /etc/passwd) and the groups file ( /etc/group). Others are derived from files related to network administration.

/etc/ethers
Creates the NIS maps ethers.byaddr and ethers.byname. The /etc/ethers file is used by RARP.
/etc/hosts
Produces the maps hosts.byname and hosts.byaddr.
/etc/networks
Produces the maps networks.byname and networks.byaddr.
/etc/services
Produces a single map called services.byname.
/etc/aliases
Defines electronic mail aliases and produces the maps mail.aliases and mail.byaddr.
Check the maps available on your server with the ypcat - x command.

The advantage of using NIS is that these important administrative files can be maintained on a central server, and yet completely accessible to every workstation on the network. All of the maps are stored on a master server that runs the NIS server process ypserv. The maps are queried remotely by client systems. Clients run ypbind to locate the server.


For more information about TCP/IP Network Administration, or to buy this book, click here.

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This was first published in February 2001

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