3.0 Using NIS

When multiple Unix systems in a network access common resources, it becomes imperative that all user and group identities are the same for all machines in that network. The network should be transparent to users: their environments should not vary, regardless of which machine they are actually using. This can be done by means of NIS and NFS services. NFS distributes file systems over a network and is discussed in Section 28.0, Sharing File Systems with NFS, (↑Administration Guide).

NIS (Network Information Service) can be described as a database-like service that provides access to the contents of /etc/passwd, /etc/shadow, and /etc/group across networks. NIS can also be used for other purposes (making the contents of files like /etc/hosts or /etc/services available, for example), but this is beyond the scope of this introduction. People often refer to NIS as YP, because it works like the network's yellow pages.