System Administration Guide: Naming and Directory Services (NIS+)

Optimizing NIS+ Server Use

This section provides an overview of server-use customization.

nis_cachemgr Is Required

Server-use customization requires that a client be running nis_cachemgr. If a client machine is not running nis_cachemgr, it cannot make use of server-use customization. If there is no nis_cachemgr running on a client machine, that client will use the first server it identifies as described in Default NIS+ Client Search Behavior.

NIS+ Global Table or Local File

Depending on how you use the nisprefadm command, it creates either a local client_info file or a domain client_info table:

Caution – Caution –

Use only the nisprefadm command to make changes to client_info files and tables. Never use other NIS+ commands such as nistbladm.

When working with client_info tables or files, you must use either the -G or the -L option to specify that your command apply to either the global table (-G) or local file (-L) of the machine you are running the command on.

NIS+ Preference Rank Numbers

Server preferences are controlled by giving each server a preference rank number. Clients search for NIS+ servers in order of numeric preference, querying servers with lower preference rank numbers before seeking servers with higher numbers.

Thus, a client will first try to obtain namespace information from NIS+ servers with a preference of zero. If there are no preference=0 servers available, then the client will query servers whose preference=1. If no 1's are available, it will try to find a 2, and then a 3, and so on until it either gets the information it needs or runs out of servers.

Preference rank numbers are assigned to servers with the nisprefadm command as described in Specifying NIS+ Global Server Preferences.

Server preference numbers are stored in client_info tables and files. If a machine has its own /var/nis/client_info file, it uses the preference numbers stored in that file. If a machine does not have its own client_info file, it uses the preference numbers stored in the domain's client_info.org_dir table. These client_info tables and files are called “preferred server lists” or simply server lists.

You customize server usage by controlling the server preferences of each client. For example, suppose a domain has a client machine named mailer that makes heavy use of namespace information and the domain has both a master server (nismaster) and a replica server (replica1). You could assign a preference number of 1 to nismaster and a number of 0 to replica1 for the mailer machine. The mailer machine would then always try to obtain namespace information from replica1 before trying nismaster. You could then specify that for all the other machines on the subnet the nismaster server had a preference number of zero and replica1 the number 1. This would cause the other machine to always try nismaster first.

You can give the same preference number to more than one server in a domain. For example, you could assign both nismaster1 and replica2 a preference number of 0, and assign replica3, replica4, and replica5 a preference number of 1.

Default NIS+ Server Preferences

If there is no client_info file or table, the cache manager automatically assigns all servers on the local subnet a default preference number of zero (0) and all servers outside the local subnet a preference of infinite. The purpose of nisprefadm is to change these default preference numbers to what you want them to be.

Efficiency and NIS+ Server Preference Numbers

A client must seek all servers with a given preference number before searching for servers with the next higher number. It requires 5 or more seconds for a client to search for all the servers with a given preference number. This means that if you have a master server and 4 replicas in a domain, and you give each one a different preference number from 0 to 4, it could take a client more than 25 seconds to run through all of those preference levels.

To maximize performance, you should not use more than two or three levels of server preference. For example, in the case described above, it is better to give one of those five servers a preference=0 and all the others a preference of 1, or give two of them a preference of 1 and the remaining three a preference of 2.

Preferred-Only NIS+ Servers and All Servers

Server lists also specify what a client does if it cannot find any preferred servers. A preferred server is any server with a preference of zero, or any server that you have assigned a preference number with nisprefadm.

By default, if a client fails to reach a preferred server, it will then seek out any server it can find anywhere on the network using the search mode described in Default NIS+ Client Search Behavior. You can change this default behavior with the nisprefadm -o option to specify that a client can only use preferred servers and if no servers are available it cannot go to non-preferred servers. See Specifying Preferred-Only Servers in NIS+ for details.

Note –

This option is ignored when the machine's domain is not served by any preferred servers.

Viewing NIS+ Preferences

To view the server preferences currently in effect for a particular client machine, you run nisprefadm with the -l option as described in Viewing NIS+ Machine Preferences.

NIS+ Server and Client Names

When specifying server or client machines, keep in mind the following points:

NIS+ Server Preferences

To specify a server preference for:

When NIS+ Server Preferences Take Effect

Changes you make to a machine or subnet's server preferences normally do not take effect on a given machine until that machine updates it nis_cachemgr data. When the nis_cachemgr of a machine updates its server-use information depends on whether the machine is obtaining its server preferences from a global client_info table or a local /var/nis/client_info file (see NIS+ Global Table or Local File).

However, you can force server preference changes to take effect immediately by running nisprefadm with the -F option. The -F option forces nis_cachemgr to immediately update its information. See Putting NIS+ Server Preferences Into Immediate Effect for details.