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NIS Namespace and NIS domains

(part 2 of the Solaris NIS mini-tutorial)
 

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NIS is a very old service and unlike DNS NIS namespace does not support a domain hierarchy. Each NIS domain should contain one NIS master server, zero or more  slave servers (optional) and one or more clients.  In a way NIS master server is similar to WEB server: like is the case with WEB servers there can be many NIS domains in the organization each with its own master (and possibly slaves) serving particular subset of clients.  The client binds to the server with special command, somewhat similar to providing URL to the browser. NIS master distributes maps the pages of information similar to HTML pages. Similar to web pages NIS maps constitute the part of domain namespace. 

To set up an NIS domain, you need to know the IP address of the NIS master as well as the domain name. Usually NIS domain name is constructed from the appropriate DNS name for the organization as a whole or a particular part of the organization (in big companies). It does not need to be register in a special authority. The maximum length of NIS domain name is 256 characters. Unlike DNS NIS domains is case sensitive. For example:

Sap_R3.bigcompany.com

is not equal to:

    sap_r3.bigcompany.com

If you have more than one NIS domain established, you need to know which clients are handled by which NIS master in order to properly bind clients to masters. Bindling is client-side operation: you need to log into each client machine and use the command:

# domainname domain

Here domain is the domain name of the master server that you plan to use for a particular client, a kind of home page for browser.

Note that different clients can use different domains and different NIS server (on Solaris 10 you probably can run several of them on one physical server, each in its own zone, like you can run several Web servers in the same way). For example:

#domainname softpanorama.org

Normally only root can use the domainname command, unless you created a special role for this purpose. Because the command is effective only until the machine is rebooted, it needs to be put into one of the startup RC scripts.

Domain is only a part of NIS namespace, the second and more important part is NIS maps, the concept similar to web pages that we will discuss in the next part of the tutorial.

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