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|Oracle Solaris Administration: Naming and Directory Services Oracle Solaris 11 Information Library|
By running NIS, the system administrator can distribute administrative databases, called maps, among a variety of servers (master and slaves). The administrator can update those databases from a centralized location in an automatic and reliable fashion to ensure that all clients share the same naming service information in a consistent manner throughout the network.
NIS was developed independently of DNS and has a slightly different focus. Whereas DNS focuses on making communication simpler by using machine names instead of numerical IP addresses, NIS focuses on making network administration more manageable by providing centralized control over a variety of network information. NIS stores information not only about machine names and addresses, but also about users, the network itself, and network services. This collection of network information is referred to as the NIS namespace.
Note - In some contexts machine names are referred to has host names or machine names. This discussion uses machine, but some screen messages or NIS map names might use host or machine.
NIS uses a client-server arrangement. NIS servers provide services to NIS clients. The principal server is called a master server, and for reliability, it can have several backup servers or slave servers. Both master and slave servers use the NIS information retrieval software, and both store NIS maps.
Thus, this physical network would be arranged into one NIS domain.
An NIS domain cannot be connected directly to the Internet using just NIS. However, organizations that want to use NIS and also be connected to the Internet can combine NIS with DNS. You can use NIS to manage all local information and use DNS for Internet host lookup. NIS also provides a forwarding service that forwards host lookups to DNS if the information cannot be found in an NIS map. The Oracle Solaris system also allows you to set up the name service switch service so that hosts lookup requests can be directed in the following ways: .
To access only DNS
To access DNS, but if a host is not found in DNS, then access NIS
To access NIS, but if a host is not found by NIS, then access DNS
For maximum interoperability, DNS is the recommended service for host lookups. See Chapter 2, Name Service Switch (Overview) for details.