About This Guide

The NIS Administrator's Guide documents the SGI implementation of the network information service (NIS).

NIS is a database service that provides location information about network entities to other network services, such as the Network File System (NFS). Systems with heterogeneous architectures and operating systems can participate in the same NIS. The service can also include systems connected to different types of networks.

This guide was formerly published under the title NFS and NIS Administration Guide and Man Pages, and documented NFS as well as NIS. You can now find information about NFS in a separate volume titled ONC3/NFS Administrator's Guide.

Using This Guide

This guide provides information you need to set up and maintain NIS. It explains the software fundamentals of the product and provides procedures to help you install, test, and troubleshoot NIS on your network. It also contains recommendations for planning and administering NIS.

Summary of Contents

Table 1 contains a summary of each chapter in this guide and suggests how to use the chapter.

Table 1. Contents of Each Chapter



When to Read

Chapter 1, “Understanding NIS”

Introduces the vocabulary of NIS, describes the relationship of NIS to other network software, and explains how NIS domains are organized.

Read this chapter to learn NIS basics. If you are already experienced with NIS, you can skip Chapter 1.

Chapter 2, “Preparing to Manage NIS”

Describes the fundamental operation of NIS and its database.

Read this chapter for the background required to do the procedures in Chapter 4, “Setting Up and Testing NIS.”

Chapter 3, “Planning Your NIS Service”

Presents the issues you need to consider before you implement NIS for your site and offers planning recommendations.

Review this chapter before setting up NIS on your network.

Chapter 4, “Setting Up and Testing NIS”

Contains procedures for implementing NIS on server and client systems and procedures for verifying their operation.

Use this chapter as a guide through NIS setup tasks.

Chapter 5, “Maintaining NIS”

Explains how to change NIS and its database when conditions in your network change. It also contains information on managing security with NIS.

Refer to this chapter when you need to update NIS maps, implement security, or add new users to NIS.

Chapter 6, “Troubleshooting NIS”

Describes problems that can arise when maps are propagated and when NIS server or client software is malfunctioning. Recommends corrective action for each type of problem.

Use this chapter to identify the source of NIS problems and take corrective action. Read the information in the final section before phoning the Silicon Graphics Technical Assistance Center.

Audience for This Guide

To use NIS setup and maintenance information, you should have experience in these areas:

  • Setting up network services

  • Assessing the needs of network users

  • Maintaining hosts databases

  • Understanding the UNIX filesystem structure

  • Using UNIX editors

To troubleshoot NIS, you should be familiar with these concepts:

  • Theory of network services

  • SGI network implementation

Related Publications

You can find supplementary information in these documents and books:

  • IRIX Admin: Networking and Mail (SGI publication) explains the fundamentals of system and network administration for SGI systems on a local area network.

  • ONC3/NFS Administrator's Guide (SGI publication) explains how to set up and maintain the SGI implementation of NFS.

  • IRIX Admin: System Configuration and Operation (SGI publication) explains how to set up configuration files.

  • Personal System Administration Guide explains how to add entries to the NIS password file.

    To obtain SGI documentation, go to the SGI Technical Publications Library at http://techpubs.sgi.com.

  • Stern, Hal, Managing NFS and NIS, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. 1991. This book contains detailed, but not SGI-specific, information about NIS and how to administer and use it.

Typographic Conventions

This guide uses the following font conventions:


Italic font is used for variables.


Courier font is used for commands, text that you are to type literally, examples of system output, and the contents of files.

Product Support

SGI offers a comprehensive product support and maintenance program for IRIX products. For information about using support services for this product, refer to the release notes that accompany it.

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