System Administration Guide: Naming and Directory Services (DNS, NIS, and LDAP)

NIS Maps

The information in NIS maps is stored in ndbm format. ypfiles(4) and ndbm(3C) explain the format of the map file.

NIS maps were designed to replace UNIX /etc files, as well as other configuration files, so they store much more than names and addresses. On a network running NIS, the NIS master server for each NIS domain maintains a set of NIS maps for other machines in the domain to query. NIS slave servers also maintain duplicates of the master server's maps. NIS client machines can obtain namespace information from either master or slave servers.

NIS maps are essentially two-column tables. One column is the key and the other column is information related to the key. NIS finds information for a client by searching through the keys. Some information is stored in several maps because each map uses a different key. For example, the names and addresses of machines are stored in two maps: hosts.byname and hosts.byaddr. When a server has a machine's name and needs to find its address, it looks in the hosts.byname map. When it has the address and needs to find the name, it looks in the hosts.byaddr map.

An NIS Makefile is stored in the /var/yp directory of machines designated as an NIS server at installation time. Running make in that directory causes makedbm to create or modify the default NIS maps from the input files.

Note –

Always create maps on the master server, as maps created on a slave will not automatically be pushed to the master server.

Default NIS Maps

A default set of NIS maps are provided in the Solaris system. You might want to use all these maps or only some of them. NIS can also use whatever maps you create or add when you install other software products.

Default maps for an NIS domain are located in each server's /var/yp/domainname directory. For example, the maps that belong to the domain are located in each server's /var/yp/ directory.

Table 4–3 describes the default NIS maps, information they contain, and whether the software consults the corresponding administrative files when NIS is running.

Table 4–3 NIS Map Descriptions

Map Name 

Corresponding NIS Admin File 




Contains user auditing preselection data. 



Contains authorization names and descriptions. 



Contains path names of files clients need during boot: root, swap, possibly others. 



Contains machine names and Ethernet addresses. The Ethernet address is the key in the map. 



Same as ethers.byaddr, except the key is machine name instead of the Ethernet address.



Contains profile execution attributes. 



Contains group security information with group ID as key. 



Contains group security information with group name as key. 



Contains machine name, and IP address, with IP address as key. 



Contains machine name and IP address, with machine (host) name as key. 



Contains aliases and mail addresses, with aliases as key. 



Contains mail address and alias, with mail address as key. 



Contains group name, user name and machine name. 



Same as netgroup.byhost, except that key is user name.



Same as netgroup.byhost, except that key is group name.


passwd, hosts


Used for UNIX-style authentication. Contains machine name and mail address (including domain name). If there is a netid file available it is consulted in addition to the data available through the other files.



Contains network mask to be used with IP submitting, with the address as key. 



Contains names of networks known to your system and their IP addresses, with the address as key. 



Same as networks.byaddr, except key is name of network.


passwd and shadow

Contains auditing information and the hidden password information for C2 clients. 


passwd and shadow

Contains password information with user name as key. 


passwd and shadow

Same as passwd.byname, except that key is user ID.



Contains attributes for execution profiles. 



Contains network protocols known to your network. 



Same as protocols.byname, except that key is protocol number.



Contains program number and name of RPCs known to your system. Key is RPC program number. 



Lists Internet services known to your network. Key is port or protocol. 



Lists Internet services known to your network. Key is service name. 



Contains extended attributes for users and roles. 



Lists NIS servers known to your network. 

New ipnodes maps (ipnodes.byaddr and ipnodes.byname) are added to NIS. The maps store both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.

Note –

Starting with the Solaris 10 8/07 release, the, Solaris OS does not have two separate hosts files. The /etc/inet/hosts file is the single hosts file that contains both IPv4 and IPv6 entries. You do not need to maintain IPv4 entries in two hosts files that always require synchronization. For backward compatibility, the /etc/inet/ipnodes file is replaced with a symbolic link of the same name to the /etc/inet/hosts file.

For more information, see the hosts(4) man page.

NIS clients and servers can communicate using either IPv4 or IPv6 RPC transports.

The ageing.byname mapping contains information used by yppasswdd to read and write password aging information to the DIT when the NIS-to-LDAP transition is implemented. If password aging is not being used, then it can be commented out of the mapping file. For more information about the NIS-to-LDAP transition, see Chapter 15, Transitioning From NIS to LDAP (Overview/Tasks).

Using NIS Maps

NIS makes updating network databases much simpler than with the /etc files system. You no longer have to change the administrative /etc files on every machine each time you modify the network environment.

For example, when you add a new machine to a network running NIS, you only have to update the input file in the master server and run make. This automatically updates the hosts.byname and hosts.byaddr maps. These maps are then transferred to any slave servers and are made available to all of the domain's client machines and their programs. When a client machine or application requests a machine name or address, the NIS server refers to the hosts.byname or hosts.byaddr map as appropriate and sends the requested information to the client.

You can use the ypcat command to display the values in a map. The ypcat basic format is the following.

% ypcat mapname

where mapname is the name of the map you want to examine or its nickname. If a map is composed only of keys, as in the case of ypservers, use ypcat -k. Otherwise, ypcat prints blank lines. The ypcat(1) man page describes more options for ypcat.

You can use the ypwhich command to determine which server is the master of a particular map. Type the following.

% ypwhich -m mapname

where mapname is the name or the nickname of the map whose master you want to find. ypwhich responds by displaying the name of the master server. For complete information, refer to the ypwhich(1) man page.

NIS Map Nicknames

Nicknames are aliases for full map names. To obtain a list of available map nicknames, such as passwd for passwd.byname, type ypcat -x or ypwhich -x.

Nicknames are stored in the /var/yp/nicknames file, which contains a map nickname followed by the fully specified name for the map, separated by a space. This list might be added to or modified. Currently, there is a limit of 500 nicknames.