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
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.
- Creates the NIS maps ethers.byaddr and ethers.byname. The /etc/ethers file is used by RARP.
- Produces the maps hosts.byname and hosts.byaddr.
- Produces the maps networks.byname and networks.byaddr.
- Produces a single map called services.byname.
- Defines electronic mail aliases and produces the maps mail.aliases and mail.byaddr.
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.
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This was first published in February 2001