Skip site navigation (1)Skip section navigation (2)

FreeBSD Manual Pages


home | help
YP(4)			 BSD Kernel Interfaces Manual			 YP(4)

     yp	-- description of the YP/NIS system


     The YP subsystem allows network management	of passwd, group, netgroup,
     hosts, services, rpc, bootparams and ethers file entries through the
     functions getpwent(3), getgrent(3), getnetgrent(3), gethostent(3),
     getnetent(3), getrpcent(3), and ethers(3).	 The bootparamd(8) daemon
     makes direct NIS library calls since there	are no functions in the	stan-
     dard C library for	reading	bootparams.  NIS support for the hosts,	ser-
     vices and rpc databases is	enabled	by uncommenting	the nis	line in
     /etc/host.conf.  NIS support for the remaining services is	activated by
     adding a special '+' entry	to the appropriate file.

     The YP subsystem is started automatically in /etc/rc if it	has been ini-
     tialized in /etc/rc.conf and if the directory /var/yp exists (which it
     does in the default distribution).	The default NIS	domain must also be
     set with the domainname(1)	command, which will happen automatically at
     system startup if it is specified in /etc/rc.conf.

     NIS is an RPC-based client/server system that allows a group of machines
     within an NIS domain to share a common set	of configuration files.	This
     permits a system administrator to set up NIS client systems with only
     minimal configuration data	and add, remove	or modify configuration	data
     from a single location.

     The canonical copies of all NIS information are stored on a single	ma-
     chine called the NIS master server.  The databases	used to	store the in-
     formation are called NIS maps.  In	FreeBSD, these maps are	stored in
     /var/yp/[domainname] where	[domainname] is	the name of the	NIS domain be-
     ing served. A single NIS server can support several domains at once,
     therefore it is possible to have several such directories,	one for	each
     supported domain. Each domain will	have its own independent set of	maps.

     In	FreeBSD, the NIS maps are Berkeley DB hashed database files (the same
     format used for the passwd(5) database files). Other operating systems
     that support NIS use old-style ndbm databases instead (largely because
     Sun Microsystems originally based their NIS implementation	on ndbm, and
     other vendors have	simply licensed	Sun's code rather than design their
     own implementation	with a different database format). On these systems,
     the databases are generally split into .dir and .pag files	which the ndbm
     code uses to hold separate	parts of the hash database. The	Berkeley DB
     hash method instead uses a	single file for	both pieces of information.
     This means	that while you may have	passwd.byname.dir and
     passwd.byname.pag files on	other operating	systems	(both of which are re-
     ally parts	of the same map), FreeBSD will have only one file called
     passwd.byname.  The difference in format is not significant: only the NIS
     server, ypserv(8),	and related tools need to know the database format of
     the NIS maps. Client NIS systems receive all NIS data in ASCII form.

     There are three main types	of NIS systems:

	   1.	~ NIS clients, which query NIS servers for information.

	   2.	~ NIS master servers, which maintain the canonical copies of
		all NIS	maps.

	   3.	~ NIS slave servers, which maintain backup copies of NIS maps
		that are periodically updated by the master.

     An	NIS client establishes what is called a	binding	to a particular	NIS
     server using the ypbind(8)	daemon.	 Ypbind(8) checks the system's default
     domain (as	set by the domainname(1) command) and begins broadcasting RPC
     requests on the local network.  These requests specify the	name of	the
     domain for	which ypbind(8)	is attempting to establish a binding. If a
     server that has been configured to	serve the requested domain receives
     one of the	broadcasts, it will respond to ypbind(8), which	will record
     the server's address. If there are	several	servers	available (a master
     and several slaves, for example), ypbind(8) will use the address of the
     first one to respond. From	that point on, the client system will direct
     all of its	NIS requests to	that server.  Ypbind(8)	will occasionally
     ``ping'' the server to make sure it's still up and	running. If it fails
     to	receive	a reply	to one of its pings within a reasonable	amount of
     time, ypbind(8) will mark the domain as unbound and begin broadcasting
     again in the hopes	of locating another server.

     NIS master	and slave servers handle all NIS requests with the ypserv(8)
     daemon.  Ypserv(8)	is responsible for receiving incoming requests from
     NIS clients, translating the requested domain and map name	to a path to
     the corresponding database	file and transmitting data from	the database
     back to the client. There is a specific set of requests that ypserv(8) is
     designed to handle, most of which are implemented as functions within the
     standard C	library:

	   +o   yp_order() -- check the creation	date of	a particular map

	   +o   yp_master() -- obtain the name of the NIS master	server for a
	       given map/domain

	   +o   yp_match() -- lookup the	data corresponding to a	given in key
	       in a particular map/domain

	   +o   yp_first() -- obtain the	first key/data pair in a particular

	   +o   yp_next() -- pass ypserv(8) a key in a particular map/domain
	       and have	it return the key/data pair immediately	following it
	       (the functions yp_first() and yp_next() can be used to do a se-
	       quential	search of an NIS map)

	   +o   yp_all()	-- retrieve the	entire contents	of a map

     There are a few other requests which ypserv(8) is capable of handling
     (i.e. acknowledge whether or not you can handle a particular domain (YP-
     PROC_DOMAIN), or acknowledge only if you can handle the domain and	be
     silent otherwise (YPPROC_DOMAIN_NONACK)) but these	requests are usually
     generated only by ypbind(8) and are not meant to be used by standard

     On	networks with a	large number of	hosts, it is often a good idea to use
     a master server and several slaves	rather than just a single master
     server. A slave server provides the exact same information	as a master
     server: whenever the maps on the master server are	updated, the new data
     should be propagated to the slave systems using the yppush(8) command.
     The NIS Makefile (/var/yp/Makefile) will do this automatically if the ad-
     ministrator comments out the line which says NOPUSH=true (NOPUSH is set
     to	true by	default	because	the default configuration is for a small net-
     work with only one	NIS server). The yppush(8) command will	initiate a
     transaction between the master and	slave during which the slave will
     transfer the specified maps from the master server	using ypxfr(8).	 (The
     slave server calls	ypxfr(8) automatically from within ypserv(8); there-
     fore it is	not usually necessary for the administrator to use it di-
     rectly. It	can be run manually if desired,	however.) Maintaining slave
     servers helps improve NIS performance on large networks by:

	   +o   Providing backup	services in the	event that the NIS master
	       crashes or becomes unreachable

	   +o   Spreading the client load out over several machines instead of
	       causing the master to become overloaded

	   +o   Allowing	a single NIS domain to extend beyond a local network
	       (the ypbind(8) daemon might not be able to locate a server au-
	       tomatically if it resides on a network outside the reach	of its
	       broadcasts. It is possible to force ypbind(8) to	bind to	a par-
	       ticular server with ypset(8) but	this is	sometimes inconve-
	       nient. This problem can be avoided simply by placing a slave
	       server on the local network.)

     The FreeBSD ypserv(8) is specially	designed to provided enhanced security
     (compared to other	NIS implementations) when used exclusively with
     FreeBSD client systems. The FreeBSD password database system (which is
     derived directly from 4.4BSD) includes support for	shadow passwords.  The
     standard password database	does not contain users'	encrypted passwords:
     these are instead stored (along with other	information) is	a separate
     database which is accessible only by the super-user.  If the encrypted
     password database were made available as an NIS map, this security	fea-
     ture would	be totally disabled, since any user is allowed to retrieve NIS

     To	help prevent this, FreeBSD's NIS server	handles	the shadow password
     maps (master.passwd.byname	and master.passwd.byuid) in a special way: the
     server will only provide access to	these maps in response to requests
     that originate on privileged ports.  Since	only the super-user is allowed
     to	bind to	a privileged port, the server assumes that all such requests
     come from privileged users. All other requests are	denied:	requests from
     non-privileged ports will receive only an error code from the server. Ad-
     ditionally, FreeBSD's ypserv(8) includes support for Wietse Venema's tcp
     wrapper package; with tcp wrapper support enabled,	the administrator can
     configure ypserv(8) to respond only to selected client machines.

     While these enhancements provide better security than stock NIS, they are
     by	no means 100% effective. It is still possible for someone with access
     to	your network to	spoof the server into disclosing the shadow password

     On	the client side, FreeBSD's getpwent(3) functions will automatically
     search for	the master.passwd maps and use them if they exist. If they do,
     they will be used,	and all	fields in these	special	maps (class, password
     age and account expiration) will be decoded. If they aren't found,	the
     standard passwd maps will be used instead.

     Some systems, such	as SunOS 4.x, need NIS to be running in	order for
     their hostname resolution functions ( gethostbyname(), gethostbyaddr(),
     etc) to work properly. On these systems, ypserv(8)	performs DNS lookups
     when asked	to return information about a host that	doesn't	exist in its
     hosts.byname or hosts.byaddr maps.	 FreeBSD's resolver uses DNS by	de-
     fault (it can be made to use NIS, if desired), therefore its NIS server
     doesn't do	Tn DNS lookups by default. However, ypserv(8) can be made to
     perform DNS lookups if it is started with a special flag. It can also be
     made to register itself as	an NIS v1 server in order to placate certain
     systems that insist on the	presence of a v1 server	(FreeBSD uses only NIS
     v2, but many other	systems, including SunOS 4.x, search for both a	v1 and
     v2	server when binding).  FreeBSD's ypserv(8) does	not actually handle
     NIS v1 requests, but this ``kludge	mode'' is useful for silencing stub-
     born systems that search for both a v1 and	v2 server.

     (Please see the ypserv(8) manual page for a detailed description of these
     special features and flags.)

     While FreeBSD now has both	NIS client and server capabilities, it does
     not yet have support for ypupdated(8) or the yp_update() function.	Both
     of	these require secure RPC, which	FreeBSD	doesn't	support	yet either.

     The getservent(3) and getprotoent(3) functions do not yet have NIS	sup-
     port. Fortunately,	these files don't need to be updated that often.

     Many more manual pages should be written, especially ypclnt(3).  For the
     time being, seek out a local Sun machine and read the manuals for there.

     Neither Sun nor this author have found a clean way	to handle the problems
     that occur	when ypbind cannot find	its server upon	bootup.

     The YP subsystem was written from the ground up by	Theo de	Raadt to be
     compatible	to Sun's implementation. Bug fixes, improvements and NIS
     server support were later added by	Bill Paul.  The	server-side code was
     originally	written	by Peter Eriksson and Tobias Reber and is subject to
     the GNU Public License. No	Sun code was referenced.

4.2 Berkeley Distribution	 April 5, 1993	     4.2 Berkeley Distribution


Want to link to this manual page? Use this URL:

home | help