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User login


Centralised authentication using NIS

To log on to a machine on your network, you need a login/password pair that

is valid on that machine. This can become a problem over a larger network

where you may have people using more than one machine. An example of this

would be your computer lab where people are going to be working off different

machines most of the time. You will then be forced to create logins for each

user on every machine that they're likely to use. NIS steps in here and

provides you with centralized authentication. All the logins are created on a

single machine, which client machines access to authenticate users.

Once you have centralized your authentication, you will also need to make

the home directory of the user available to him on the machine that they

log on to. If they still have to login to another machine to access their

data then it's not very useful having NIS around. NFS or the Network File

System allows you to 'export' a directory for mounting on other machines.

When mounted, that directory will appear as a local directory on the client

machine. This is completely transparent to the user. You can then transfer

files, run programs off a NFS mounted directory with great ease.

NIS and its associated tools are available across nearly all the

distributions. What you need is ypbind, ypserv and yp-tools. For a NIS

client machine, all you need is ypbind and yp-tools. The ypserv package is

only required if you're setting up the machine as a server. All the

NIS tools are prefixed with YP. This is because the original name for NIS

was Yellow Pages. That was copyrighted by British Telecom and could not be

used. Sun settled on NIS but the name stuck.

You will also need the portmap daemon, which is used to manage RPC

requests. This is used by NIS as well as NFS and is present in most Linux

distributions. Look for a package named portmap on your distribution CD.


Installation of the NIS program files are easy enough if you're using the RPM's.

rpm -ivh ypserv-1.3.11-9.i386.rpm

The ypserv package is only required for machines that are to be NIS master or

slave servers. This is not required for NIS clients but the following packages


rpm -ivh ypbind-1.6-11.i386.rpm

rpm -ivh yp-tools-2.4-4.i386.rpm


Before starting the configuration of your NIS server, you need to decide on a

NIS domain. Each NIS server will only serve clients from the domain that it