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System Administration Guide: Naming and Directory Services (DNS, NIS, and LDAP)
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Planning Your NIS Domain

Before you configure machines as NIS servers or clients, you must plan the NIS domain.

Decide which machines will be in your NIS domain. An NIS domain does not have to be congruent with your network. A network can have more than one NIS domain, and there can be machines on your network that are outside of your NIS domain.

Choose an NIS domain name, which can be 256 characters long. A good practice is to limit domain names to no more than 32 characters. Domain names are case-sensitive. For convenience, you can use your Internet domain name as the basis for your NIS domain name. For example, if your Internet domain name is, you can name your NIS domain If you wanted to divide into two NIS domains, one for the sales department and the other for the manufacturing department, you could name one and the other

Before a machine can use NIS services, the correct NIS domain name and machine name must be set. A machine's name is set by the machine's /etc/nodename file and the machine's domain name is set by the machine's /etc/defaultdomain file. These files are read at boot time and the contents are used by the uname -S and domainname commands, respectively. Diskless machines read these files from their boot server.

Identify Your NIS Servers and Clients

Select one machine to be the master server. Decide which machines, if any, will be slave servers.

Decide which machines will be NIS clients. Typically all machines in your domain are set to be NIS clients, although this is not necessary.

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