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Solaris Name Services

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This sample chapter covers all the name service topics that appear on the Certified Solaris Administrator Examination for Solaris 2.6, Part II, including overview of naming services; configuring and managing NIS servers and clients; NIS, NIS+, and DNS; and NIS+ security.

The following test objectives are covered in this chapter:

  • Overview of naming services

  • Configuring and managing NIS servers and clients

  • NIS, NIS+, and DNS

  • NIS+ security

name services store information in a central location that users, systems, and applications must have to communicate across the network. Information is stored in files, maps, or database tables. Without a central name service, each system would have to maintain its own copy of this information. Therefore, centrally locating this data makes it easier to administer large networks. The information handled by a name service includes:

  • System (host) names and addresses

  • User names

  • Passwords

  • Access permissions

The Solaris 2.6 release provides the following name services:

/etc files

The original UNIX naming system


The Network Information Service


The Network Information Service Plus (see NIS+ described later in this chapter)


The Domain Name System (see DNS described later in this chapter)

A NIS enables centralized management of host files so that systems can be identified by common names instead of numerical addresses. This makes communication simpler because users do not have to remember and try to enter cumbersome numerical addresses like ""

Addresses are not the only network information that systems need to store. They also need to store security information, email addresses, information about their Ethernet interfaces, network services, groups of users enabled to use the network, services offered on the network, and so on. As networks offer more services, the list grows. As a result, each system might need to keep an entire set of files similar to /etc/hosts.

As this information changes, without a name service, administrators must keep it current on every system in the network. In a small network, this is simply tedious, but on a medium or large network, the job becomes not only time-consuming but also nearly unmanageable.

A NIS solves this problem. It stores network information on servers and provides the information to any workstation that asks for it.

/etc Files

/etc files are the traditional UNIX way of maintaining information about hosts, users, passwords, groups, and automount maps, just to name a few. These files are text files that can be edited using the vi editor or Solstice AdminSuite, and they have been described throughout Parts 1 and 2 of this series.

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