NISplus Installation & Administration

NISplus Installation & Administration NISplus is network which allows you to store client information at a

central place where all the clients have access. This enables system

administrators to manage a group of servers from a central place.

This article discusses the nisplus objects , installation of servers ,clients and administration commands.

1.0  Introduction to NIS+

1.1  Objects in NIS+

1.2  Standard tables in NIS+

1.3  Groups in NIS+

2.0  Preparing for Install

2.1  Installing Server

3.0  Installing Client

4.0  Administration commands 



1.0 Introduction to NIS+ 

  • NIS +  is network information services  
which allows you to store client information at a central place 
where all the clients have access.    The information 
can be user passwords , home directories, network services etc .
  • The information is stored in NIS+ tables . 
Some of the standard tables (16 in number) comes with predefined 
structure when NIS+ is installed . The other tables can be created 
as per requirement using NIS+ commands.         
  • NIS+ uses  hierarchical structure and can 
have multiple domains servers  .
  • NIS+ uses the client server model . The 
primary server is called master server and the backup 
server is called the replica server . Both server 
runs NIS+ and have copies of tables . The changes in master server  
are propagated to replica servers in increments.
  • For security it uses both authentication and 
authorization for securing the access to system and resources. 
Authentication verifies validity of a user ; Authorization 
verifies if the user is allowed to  have access to the 
resources. Access to any NIS+ table can be controlled through the 
table permissions.
  • Clients  have a configuration file /etc/ 
; entries in this file determines where the clients should look 
for the information , in local files or NIS+ maps at the server. 

1.1 Objects in NIS +

There  are three objects in NIS+ 

1. Parent domain –  represented by  domain

name e.g. (Parent   domain )

2. org_dir  – which contains all the NIS+  tables .

3. groups_dir – contains the groups information , by default only admin group is there. 


1.2 Standard Tables in NIS+

They contain same type of information  as standard files of the same name .The passwd

table however contains the encrypted password information also .





Bootparams        cred         



mail_aliases   sendmail vars         

netmasks        netgroup        

networks          protocols            



timezone          client_info

1.3 Groups in NIS+

By default only admin group is created at the time of installation of NIS+



2.0 Preparing for Install

First step is to prepare the data files for NIS+ maps .This can be done by

coping the files which needs to be put in the nis+ tables for centralized

administration . The files are located in /etc and mostly have the same name

as NIS+  tables

If you want only passwords , groups , hosts , home directories to be

administered then you need to copy the these files in some other directory – say

nisfiles. You can make additional changes here .

# cp /etc/passwd        /export/home/nisfiles

# cp /etc/group        /export/home/nisfiles

# cp /etc/hosts        /export/home/nisfiles

auto_home can  be created by editing a copy of passwd file and keeping

only the login name and home directory .

A typical auto_home will consists of following entries

# vi auto_home




First column is user names  followed by  name of the machine

providing home directories & home  directory path.

2.1 Installing Server

a) Define a default  domain  if not defined already in /etc/defaultdomain.


# domainname

# domainname > /etc/defaultdomain


b) As root ; change directory to the /usr/lib/nis or add PATH to this


    Run server initialization program.


# nisserver -r

To setup server in NIS compatibility mode

# nisserver -r -Y

The above commands will setup the NIS+ server software.

Reboot the server

c) Login as root ; change directory to the one containing the files

auto_home , passwd  and group.

    Run the command to populate the empty nis+ tables.


# cd /export/home/nisfiles    #nispopulate –v –F

    This will try to populate all the standard tables from the files in local directory .  you can also 

    specify a particular file name in  for populating a  single    table e.g.


# nispopulate –v –F  auto_home 

    auto_home is the local file contain the entries in proper format.


3.0 Installing Client

a.) Login as root in client

   Define a default domain  name – planet  here.

b.) Run the client initialsation programme.

# nisclient –i  -h jupiter -d

        h     is

for nis+ server host name .

        d     is

for nis+ domain name .


     reboot the  client machine.

c.) Login again and open /etc/nsswitch.conf

    check to see that only entries coreesponding to the populated tables are 

    pointing to nisplus first  and then files. Rest of them should be  files and nisplus.


4.0 Administration Commands

Following are some of the useful command for administering nis+

Listing  table & objects  in NIS+

  • #nisls   : Gives the total objects in NIS+
  • #nisls org_dir  : Lists the  tables listed in the directory.

Listing a contents of tables

  • #niscat passwd.org_dir

Listing table structure

  • #niscat -o passwd.org_dir    :lists structure of password table.

Adding A user

  • #nistbladm -a  uid=123 gid=111  home=/home/john 
shell=/bin/sh   passwd.org_dir

Changing the user information in passwd table (Super user only

Fill in the corresponding values  in <>

  • #nistbladm –a  name=<> passwd=<> uid=<> gid=<> home=<> shelll=<> passwd.org_d


  • #nistbladm -a uid=123 gid=234 home=/home/john  shell=/bin/sh  passwd.org_di

to change only shell

  • #nistbladm -m shell=/usr/local/bin/bash  [name=john],passwd.org_dir

Changing user passwd


  As root

  • # nispasswd  ;user has to update his key 
through chkey -p

  As user

  • $ nispasswd   ;update encrypted key
  • $ chkey -p   ;(user NIS+ passwd and login passwd are the same.)

Adding user credentials

  • # nisaddcred -p 123 -P john local
  • # nisaddcred -p   -P des

123 is userid and john is the user name.

Adding / removing a user dir entry in  auto_home table :

  • # nistbladm -a key=john value=  auto_home.org_dir
  • # nistbladm -r key=john auto_home.org_dir  :If  key is not unique then more fields needs to be defined .

Removing a user

  • # nistbladm -r passwd.org_dir

Modifying the tables  for multiple entries.

  • # nisaddent -d passwd > /tmp/passwd  :Dump the table to    a file
  • # vi /tmp/passwd ;Edit the dumped file
  • # nisaddent -r -f /tmp/passwd passwd :Put back the dumped file.

nisaddent command  is available only for  some of the  standard tables, for others either

nispopulate or  nistbladm has to  be used .

Eldar Aydayev ©
UNIX Systems Professional Consultant | Aydayev’s Investment Business Group
1676. 23rd Ave, Noriega St. San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: +1 (650) 2062624