On a network with Linux and Unix computers, the two common sharing services are the Network File System (NFS) and the Network Information Service (NIS). NFS lets you mount remote directories seamlessly on your Linux computer. NIS allows you to keep a common database of key configuration files on your network.
When you mount an NFS directory, you may not be able to tell the difference from a directory on your own computer. For example, you could configure home directories for all of your users on a server and share it through NFS. Then you could configure client computers on your LAN to mount /home during the boot process. NFS may look a bit complex, because it uses up to six daemons, but the basic configuration files and commands are easy. If you re less familiar with NFS, the graphical redhat-config-nfs tool can help. And in this chapter, you ll learn to understand and manage the risks commonly associated with NFS.
Every Linux computer normally has its own basic configuration files for users, such as /etc/ passwd and /etc/ group . On many LANs, it would be easier to configure all users with the same username and password. Without NIS, that means making sure that all users have an account on each computer ”and each account has the same UID and GID numbers . This can be a cumbersome process. With NIS, you can configure a single database of usernames, passwords, and a number of other configuration files. This chapter covers the following topics:
Configuring NFS servers
Working with NFS clients
Setting up NIS servers
Using NIS clients