NIS+ Frequently Asked Questions

This document is archived at:
Date: July 30, 1999

Items with + indicate new items.
* indicate changed items.

1.0 : About NIS+
__1.1 : An Explanation of the Basic NIS+ Objects
2.0 : Debugging NIS+
__2.1 : Authentication Problems
__2.2 : Examining NIS+ Tables
__2.3 : Using snoop
__2.4 : Performance Problems
3.0 : How Tos
__3.1 : How to Prepare Your Site for NIS+
__3.2 : How to Set Up a Root NIS+ Master
__*3.3 : How to Set Up a NIS+ Client
__3.4 : How to Set Up a Root NIS+ Replica
__3.5 : How to Set Up a Subdomain NIS+ Master
__3.6 : How to Set Up a Subdomain NIS+ Replica
__*3.7 : How to Configure the Root Server for an IP Address Change
__3.8 : How to Add a User to the Admin Group
__3.9 : How to Change a NIS+ user passwd
__3.10 : How to Change a NIS+ root passwd
__3.11 : How to Administer NIS+ Credentials
__3.12 : How to Administer NIS+ Groups
__3.13 : How to Administer NIS+ Tables
__3.14 : How to Examine NIS+ tables
__3.15 : How to Modify NIS+ Tables
__3.16 : How to Regularly Administer NIS+
__3.17 : How to Remove NIS+
__3.18 : How to define the printer table
__3.19 : How to fix NIS+ server breaks with Unable to Authenticate NIS+ server
__3.20 : How to promote a NIS+ root replica server to a root master server
__3.21 : How to dump the cred table
__+3.22 : How do I backup/recover NIS+ directory objects.
4.0 : Common problems.
__4.1 : Miscellaneous Questions
__4.2 : NIS+ Setup Problems
__4.3 : User Login Problems
__4.4 : NIS+ Lookup Problems
5.0 : Patches
__5.1 : Solaris 2.3 NIS+ Patches
__5.2 : Solaris 2.4 NIS+ Patches
__5.3 : Solaris 2.5(.1) NIS+ Patches
__5.4 : Solaris 2.6 NIS+ Patches
__*5.5 : Solaris 7 NIS+ Patches
6.0 : References
__*6.1 : Important Man Pages
__*6.2 : Sunsolve Documents
__6.3 : Sun Educational Services
__*6.4 : Solaris Documentation
__6.5 : Third Party Documentation
__6.6 : RFCs

1.0: About NIS+

NIS+ stands for Network Information Service Plus. It was designed to
replace NIS, and is a default naming service for Solaris. NIS+ can
provide limited support to NIS clients via a YP-compatibility mode.
NIS+ was mainly designed to address problems that NIS cannot address.

One important thing to note is that there is no relation between NIS+
and NIS. The commands and the overall structure of NIS+ are different
from NIS. In addition, some command syntax in NIS+ is different from
the NIS commands. NIS+ was designed from scratch.

NIS+ increases security by using an additional authentication method.
Users will still have their standard LOGIN PASSWORD, will will give
them access to the system. They will also have a SECURE RPC PASSWORD
or NETWORK PASSWORD. This new password is necessary to actually access
NIS+, and is what provides the new security. Usually, a user's LOGIN
PASSWORD and NETWORK PASSWORD will be the same, and a user will
automatically have access to all NIS+ functionality when they login
with their login password. However, if they are different, a user will
have to KEYLOGIN and type his network password to get access to NIS+.

There are a huge number of programs related to NIS+. The most
important ones are explained elsewhere in this document. All are
listed in Section 7.1 you should consult the man pages for any
additional information. Of special notes are the NIS+ daemons:

RPC.NISD and NIS_CACHEMGR are the standard NIS+ daemons. You should
see them running on every NIS+ server and client.

1.1: An Explanation of the Basic NIS+ Objects

NIS+ objects are structural elements used to build and define the NIS+
namespace. There are 5 basic NIS+ objects. Objects are always
seperated by dots.

DIRECTORY OBJECTS: Similar to a UNIX system directory, in that it can
contain one or more objects such as: table objects, group objects,
entry objects or link objects. Directory objects form an inverted
tree-like structure, with the root domain at the top and the
subdomains branching downwards. They are used to divide namespace into
the different parts. Each main directory object will contain that
domain's org_dir and groups_dir directory objects. The org_dir
directory objects contain table objects for that domain. The
groups_dir directory objects contain NIS+ administrative group



TABLE OBJECTS: Similar to NIS maps. They store a variety of network
information. Tables may contain zero or more ENTRY OBJECTS. There are
a total 17 predefined table objects. Tables can be administered with
nistbladm or nisaddent command. Table entry objects form a row in the
table and each row stores one record.





GROUP OBJECTS: These are NIS+ namespace administrative user groups. They
permit controlled access rights to namespace modification on a group
basis. They are administered with the nisgrpadm command.



LINK OBJECTS: These are pointers to other objects. They are similar to
symbolic links. They typically point to table or object entrys.
Administered with the nisln command.

2.0 Debugging NISplus

2.0: Debugging NIS+

Before trying to debug a NIS+ problem, you should always make sure
that you have the recommended patches installed on the system. In
particular, the kernel patch should be at the current patch level, and
all the systems have the same patch rev.

2.1: Authentication Problems

Most of the problems in NIS+ are authentication related problems.
Assuming that you are running rpc.nisd at security level 2 on your
master server, you can use niscat to determine if a user is

%% niscat passwd.org_dir

If the user can see the encrypted passwds, then the user is
authenticated. If the user sees *NP* in place of encrypted passwds,
then he does not have permission to read the passwd column. In this
case, you could run 'keylogin' to try and reauthenticate the user. If
that works, the user might need to run 'chkey' to sync his login and
network passwords.

If keylogin still does not authenticate the user, it is likely that
his credentials have not been set up correctly. You can check that
someone actually has credentials by examining the cred table:

%% niscat cred.org_dir

You can create credentials for a user with nisclient:

%% nisclient -c username

When having credential problems, also consider that it might be a
problem with the credentials of the workstation as well. If known-good
users fail on a specific workstation, you will probably want to try
and set the workstation back up, as described in Section 3.3.

2.2: Examining NIS+ Tables

Some NIS+ problems will be related to information missing from tables.
You can examine the contents of tables with a variety of commands.

niscat will output the entire contents of a table for you:

%% niscat passwd.org_dir

You can also examine the object properties of a table:

%% niscat -o passwd.org_dir

This can be very helpful, because it will show you if a table has
weird permissions which may be restricting access.

nismatch can also be used to find things in a table:

%% nismatch -h joe passwd.org_dir

niscat and nismatch both directly access the NIS+ tables. getent, on
the other hand, will look up tables in the order defined in the
/etc/nsswitch.conf. A typical getent command would be the following:

%% getent passwd joe

This would look up the user joe in passwd. In a typical environment,
it would access files first, and then NIS+. If you find that getent
and nismatch give you different answers, you should look at your
nsswitch.conf. Perhaps a naming service that is listed earlier in your
nsswitch.conf has different info. Alternatively, maybe NIS+ is not
listed at all in your nsswitch.conf.

2.3: Using Snoop

If you are having intermittent problems, snoop is often useful to
debug them. To use snoop correctly, you must run it from an uninvolved
machine. For example, if you have a client that is having intermittent
problems with NIS+, you should run snoop on a machine on the same
subnet as the problem client, but the machine must be neither the
client nor any of the NIS+ servers:

unrelated-machine# snoop problem-machine

This will tell you about all of the packets going in and out of the
problem-machine. You should look for NIS+ packets, taking careful
notes of errors. If you are getting some type of intermittent errors,
it is useful to see which Server your Client was talking with at the
time of your problem. Possibly one of your Servers has bad or old

2.4: Performance Problems

Some NIS+ problems may be related to performance. You might find NIS+
servers overloaded. You might get "NIS+ Server Unreachable" errors
because your network is overloaded. The commands 'snoop' and 'netstat'
may be used to examine such problems further, but Performance Tuning
is beyond the scope of the help that SunService can provide. Sections

8.0 and 9.0 explain other places you can get help from within Sun.

3.0 How Tos

3.1: How to Prepare Your Site for NIS+

Before configuring NIS+ namespace you need to do initial planning
including: verifying hardware and software requirements, deciding the
name of the domain, determining security level and planning your
domain hierarchy.

In general you need a solaris 2.3 or higher Operating system. 32 to 64
MB of memory and about 128 MB of swap space is recommended for a
medium to large domain. The size of /var/nis is recommended to be
about 20 MB. All of these requirements can be found in the
Administering Name Services Manual (see Section 7.4).

The domainname for the root server should be at least two labels long.
This means that the domain name "xyz." is not supported, but the
domainname "" is a correct domain name.

Another thing to think about is security level. The default security
level is 2. If you want a secure enviroment, then you should run NIS+
at security level 2. If you have SunOS client machines on the network,
which are going to get served by the NIS+ server, then you need to run
NIS+ in YP compatibility mode. You should also decide about the access
rights you want to give to users and administrative group.

Lastly, you should learn about imporatant NIS+ concepts such as the
difference between the login passwd and the network passwd. It's very
important to know this difference while troubleshooting authentication
related problems.

Once you are ready to begin configuring your domain, it is recommended
that you use the quick startup scripts to configure NIS+ namespace.
For example, to configure the root server use the nisserver script to
configure clients use the nisclient script. These scripts are easy to
use and reduce chances for errors. The following Sections outline the
use of thse scripts.

3.2: How to Set Up a Root NIS+ Master

To set up a root server, become the superuser on the root master, and
use the nisserver script to build the root domain:

root-server# nisserver -v -r -d domain_name

(where domain_name is your NIS+ domain.)

Afterwards, you will want to populate the NIS+ tables from a set of
ASCII files. It is a good idea to create a seperate directory and then
edit the files required to populate the tables there.

For example, create a directory /var/tmp/nisfiles and copy the files
from the /etc directory to /var/tmp/nisfiles, and then edit the files.
You may wish to edit the passwd file, for example, because you only
need the entries for the normal users in the NIS+ passwd table.

Following is the list of standard NIS+ tables, which you may wish to
include when you populate your maps (although it is not required that
they all be included):


To populate the tables, change to the directory where the edited files
are, and then run the nispopulate script:

root-master# cd /var/tmp/nisfiles
root-master# nispopulate -v -F

One important thing to note is the network passwd created in the
credential table for all the users is "nisplus". This should be
changed to something more secure. For normal users, every user needs
to run keylogin and then do the chkey command and enter a new network
passwd. It is highly recommended that login passwd and the network
passwd be the same. In the NIS+ enviroment, login explicitly runs
keylogin and so, if the network passwd is same as the login passwd,
users don't have to do a seperate keylogin to authenticate.

When the nispopulate is done, you should reboot your server. When it
comes back up, you can verify that NIS+ is working correctly by
running the standard NIS+ commands:

root-master%% nisls
root-master%% niscat passwd.org_dir

*3.3: How to Set Up a NIS+ Client

To set up a NIS+ client, first become root on the master server, and
verify that NIS+ host table has an entry for the client. If it does
not, use admintool to add it. Afterwards, run the nisclient script to
create credentials for the client machine:

root-master# nisclient -v -d domain_name -c client_machine

(where domain_name is your NIS+ domain, and client_machine is the name
of your new client.)

Do not worry if nisclient tells you that the credentials already exist
for your client_machine.

Next, login to your client machine as root, and run nisclient to
initialize it:

client# nisclient -v -i -h master_machine -a master_ip -d domain_name

(where master_machine is the name of your NIS+ master, master_ip is
the IP address of your NIS+ master and domain_name is the name of your
NIS+ domain.)

client# cp /etc/nsswitch.nisplus /etc/nsswitch.conf

(You may need to make a change to the hosts line in nsswitch.conf if you use

3.4: How to Set Up a Root NIS+ Replica

After your root replica has been set up as a client system (see
Section 3.3), start the NIS+ server daemon:

root-replica# rpc.nisd

Then, you can execute the nisserver command on the root-master:

root-master# nisserver -v -R -d domain_name -h replica_machine

(where domain_name is your NIS+ domain and replica_machine is the name
of your root-replica.)

Finally, run nisping on the master server to propagate the tables to
the replica server:

root-master# nisping domain_name.
root-master# nisping org_dir.domain_name.
root-master# nisping groups_dir.domain_name.

(where domain_name is your NIS+ domain.)

3.5: How to Set Up a Subdomain NIS+ Master

The subdomain server must already be setup as a client of the domain
above it (see Section 3.3). This may be the root domain, or some
subdomain. After it is, you should start rpc.nisd:

subdomain-master# rpc.nisd

Then, you should login to the master of the domain above your current
domain, and execute nisserver (root-master is used in this example,
but this could also be some higher subdomain-master):

root-master# nisserver -v -M -d subdomain_name -h subdomain_master

(where subdomain_name is the name of your new NIS+ subdomain, and
subdomain_master is the name of your Subdomain master.)

You will then want to populate the NIS+ tables for your new Subdomain.
This is done on your subdomain master, in a similar manner to that
described in Section 3.2:

subdomain-master# cd /var/tmp/nisfiles
subdomain-master# nispopulate -v -F

Afterwards, reboot your new subdomain master.

3.6: How to Set Up a Subdomain NIS+ Replica

The same procedure as is described in Section 3.4, should be used to
set up a Subdomain Replica. However, the commands will be run on the
subdomain-master, not the root-master.

*3.7: How to Configure the Root Server for an IP Address Change
The assumptions here are:
- Your NIS+ root domain is called "root.dom".
- The root server is called "master" and has an address of
- You want to change the IP address of the root server to
- You have one replica called "replica", with an address of
- You want to change the IP address of the replica to

Follow these steps:

1. For all the NIS+ servers, add entries for their new IP addresses.
The following commands add the master's and replica's new IP addresses.

nistbladm -a addr= name='"master"' cname='"master"' hosts.org_dir
nistbladm -a addr= name='"replica"' cname='"replica"' hosts.org_dir

2. Use nisupdkeys to update the IP addresses in the directory objects with
these commands: (You must have nisplus first for the hosts line in /etc/nsswitch.conf)

/usr/lib/nis/nisupdkeys -a groups_dir.root.dom.
/usr/lib/nis/nisupdkeys -a org_dir.root.dom.
/usr/lib/nis/nisupdkeys -a root.dom.

Note: You will need to do this for any other directory object hosted on the machine.

3. Start up a second logical interface on each NIS+ server with the
new IP address.

On the master, run this command:

ifconfig le0:1 netmask + broadcast + -trailers up

On the replica, run this command:

ifconfig le0:1 netmask + broadcast + -trailers up

4. Push the new directory objects to all the replica servers with
this command:

/usr/lib/nis/nisping root.dom.
/usr/lib/nis/nisping groups_dir.root.dom.
/usr/lib/nis/nisping org_dir.root.dom.

5. Wait for the time-to-live of all the directory objects to expire.
This is REALLY important. Do not skip this step. Typically the
time-to-live is 12 hours, so wait for 12 hours. You can check
time-to-live with the command:

niscat -o root.dom. groups_dir.root.dom. org_dir.root.dom.

You can change the time-to-live on the directory objects to speed
the process up. To change the time-to-live of an object to 1 hour
use the command nischttl.

nischttl 1h root.dom.
nischttl 1h groups_dir.root.dom.
nischttl 1h org_dir.root.dom.

If you are going to adjust the time-to-live for the object you will need to
wait for 12 hours to propagate the new time-to-live.

6. To keep a completely transparent service, set up one ormore
systems to act as a gateway between the two logical networks.
To do this on one system, follow these steps:

7. For each client, follow these steps:
a. Edit the hosts.org_dir table entry to reflect the new IP address.
b. Edit the /etc/hosts file.
c. Reboot the client.

8. Remove the old IP address entries for the NIS+ root servers from
the hosts map, so that only the new IP entries remain by following
these steps:

a. Update the IP addresses in the directory objects with these

/usr/lib/nis/nisupdkeys -a groups_dir.root.dom.
/usr/lib/nis/nisupdkeys -a org_dir.root.dom.
/usr/lib/nis/nispupkeys -a root.dom.

b. Propagate the changes to all replicas with these commands:

/usr/lib/nis/nisping groups_dir.root.dom.
/usr/lib/nis/nisping org_dir.root.dom.
/usr/lib/nis/nisping root.dom.

c. Wait for the time-to-live to expire (usually 12 hours) so that
the old server IP address information is cleared from client

9. Once all the clients are done, follow these steps:
a. ifconfig the old (logical) interfaces on the NIS+ servers down
running, for example:

ifconfig le0 down.

b. Remove the old entries from the host table.
c. Edit the /etc/hosts files.
d. On the system on which you started the in.routed, turn it
off again and reset ip_forwarding to its old value.

3.8: How to Add a User to the Admin Group

In your default setup, only root on your master machine will be able
to make modifications to most of your NIS+ maps. You will probably
want to extend these permissions to all of the system administrators.
This is typically done by putting all of the system administrators
into the admin group:

# nisgrpadm -a admin.domain_name. joe
# nisgrpadm -a admin.domain_name. liz

The above command will give joe and liz the ability to modify most
NIS+ tables from their own accounts. This can give considerable
privilege, so you should make sure that joe and liz are trusted, and
also that their accounts are secure.

3.9: How to Change a NIS+ user passwd

The passwd for a normal user can be changed by them running the
nispasswd command:

%% nispasswd

This updates the passwd in the passwd table, and also updates the
credential table.

Root can change passwds for users by running:

# nispasswd user_name

However, this procedure should NEVER be used for changing the root passwd.

3.10: How to Change a NIS+ root passwd

To change a root passwd, you MUST use the following procedure.

First, issue the passwd command, and supply new passwd:

# passwd

This will change the passwd in the local /etc/passwd file. Then, run
chkey -p and enter the new network passwd:

# chkey -p

Finally, do keylogin -r to update /etc/.rootkey file with the new
private key for the server:

# keylogin -r

This changes the private key for the server, while the public key
remains the same. This is necessary because clients use server's
public key for authentication.

If you use any other method for updating your root passwd, you can
totally mess up your NIS+ domain.

3.11: How to Administer NIS+ Credentials

The nisaddcred command can be used to create, update and remove LOCAL
and DES credentials.

To create or update credentials for another NIS+ principal:

%% nisaddcred -p uid -P principal-name local
%% nisaddcred -p rpc-netname -P principal-name des

The rpc-netname is unix.uid@domain_name for a user, and
unix.hostname@domain_name for the root user on a host. Note that these
domainnames do NOT contain a trailing dot, unlike most NIS+ commands.
The principal-name is name.domain_name., where name can be user name
or a hostname.

For example, joe (uid 555) in the domain has the following


While root on the machine testhas the following names:


A few caveats: you can only create DES credentials for a client
workstation. DES credentials may only be created in the client's home
domain. However, you can create LOCAL credentials for a client user in
other domains.

To remove credentials:

%% nisaddcred -r principal-name

3.12: How to Administer NIS+ Groups

The following commands may all be used to administer NIS+ groups. Be
aware that NIS+ groups are not the same thing as normal UNIX groups.

You can list the object properties of a group with niscat:

%% niscat -o group-name.groups_dir.domain_name.

The nisgrpadm command creates, delets and performs miscellaneous
administartion operations on the nis+ groups.

To create a group:

%% nisgrpadm -c group-name.domain_name.

The group you cretae will inherit all the object properties specified
in the NIS_DEFAULTS variable. You can view the defaults using the
nisdefaults command:

root-master# nisdefaults
prinicipal name : master.domain_name
domain name : domain_name
Host Name : master.domain_name
Group Name:
Access Rights : ----rmcdr---r---
Time to live :12:0:0
Search Patch : domain-name

To delete a group:

%% nisgrpadm -d group-name.domain_name.

To list the group members:

%% nisgrpadm -l group-name.domain_name.

To add members to a NIS+ group:

%% nisgrpadm -a group-name member

To remove members from a NIS+ group:

%% nisgrpadm -r group-name member

To determine if a member belongs to a NIS+ group:

%% nisgrpadm -t group-name member

3.13: How to Administer NIS+ Tables

The nistbladm command is the primary NIS+ table administration
utility. With this command, you can create, modify or delete tables
and table entries. To create a table you must have create rights to
the directory under which you will create. To delete a table you must
have a destroy rights to the directory. To modify a table, or to add,
change or delete the entries you must have modify rights to the table
or the entries.

Table column can have following characteristics:

S Searchable
I case insensitive
C encrypted

To create a table:

%% nistbladm -c table-type column-spec .... table-name

For example, to create a table of type 'computers' and of name
'', with two columns, 'name' and 'model', which
are both searchable, you would use the following command:

%% nistbladm -c computers name=S model=S

(assuming your domain_name is

To delete a table:

%% nistbladm -d table-name

For example, to delete your computers table, you would use the following command:

%% nistbladm -d

For more info about adding entries or modifying entires, refer to the
nistbladm man page.

3.14: How to Examine NIS+ tables

The niscat command displays the contents of NIS+ tables.

To display the object properties of a table:

%% niscat -o table-name


%% niscat -o entry

To display the contents of a table:

%% niscat -h table-name

3.15: How to Modify NIS+ Tables

NIS+ tables may be modified in a number of ways. One note for all of
these mesthods is that a NIS+ principal must be a member of the admin
NIS+ group for them to make modifications to most tables (see Section


The best method is to use the admintool GUI to modify them. The only
downsides to this approach are: admintool requires X to be running
not all the standard tables are available through admintool and new
tables will never be available through admintool.

If you can not use admintool to modify a table, nisaddent is the best
alternative. The nisaddent command loads information from text files
or from NIS maps into NIS+ tables. It can also dump the contents of
the NIS+ tables back to text files. The following options are used
along with the nisaddent command:

-a append: add the contents of the source to the table
-r replace: substitute contents of the source for the contents of the table
-m merge: merge the contents of the source with the contents of the table.
-d dump : dump the contents of the table to stdout

(With no -a, -r or -m options, the default is REPLACE)

You can put new entries into a file, and then merge those changes in:

%% nisaddent -m -f filename table-type

For example:

%% nisaddent -m -f /etc/passwd passwd

Or, you could dump a table, make changes and then replace the copy of
the table in NIS+

For example:

%% nisaddent -d passwd > /tmp/passwd
%% vi /tmp/passwd
%% nisaddent -r -f /etc/passwd passwd

If you do not want to use nisaddent, your final option is to use
nistbladm to directly modify the table. This can be fairly complex.
Examine the nistbladm man page for more information on how to do so.

3.16: How to Regularly Administer NIS+

Depending on the updates one performs in the namespace, it is a good
idea to frequently perform nisping -C so that log files gets written
to the disk. You may wish to put this into a cron tab on your
root-master server, to make sure that it is executed daily.

Another important NIS+ administration task is to regularly backup
/var/nis, to make sure that you can recover in the case of a massive

3.17: How to Remove NIS+

If you wish to remove NIS+, you should run the following commands on
all of your NIS+ machines:

# cp /etc/nsswitch.files /etc/nsswitch.conf
# /etc/init.d/rpc stop
# rm -f /etc/.rootkey
# rm -rf /var/nis/*
# /etc/init.d/rpc start

It is suggested that you start with the clients, and do the servers

3.18: How to define the printer table in NIS+
Run the following command, as root, to set up the NIS+ printers table

# nistbladm -c -D access=n+r,o+rmcd,g+rmcd,w+r printers \
printer_name=S,o+rmcd,g+r,w+r printer_host=S,o+rmcd,g+r,w+r \
description=,o+rmcd,g+r,w+r printers.org_dir.`domainname`.

Once you have set up this definition, you can confirm the permissions
are set properly:

# niscat -o printers.org_dir
Object Name : printers
Owner :
Group :
Domain :
Access Rights : r---rmcdrmcdr---
Time to Live : 12:0:0
Object Type : TABLE
Table Type : printers
Number of Columns : 3
Character Separator :
Search Path :
Columns :
[0] Name : printer_name
Access Rights : ----rmcdr---r---
[1] Name : printer_host
Access Rights : ----rmcdr---r---
[2] Name : description
Attributes : (TEXTUAL DATA)
Access Rights : ----rmcdr---r---

After this, Admintool or the nisaddent command can be used to populate
the printers table.

3.19: How to fix NIS+ server breaks with Unable to Authenticate NIS+ server

Kill and restart rpc.nisd at security level 0:

ps -ef | grep rpc.nisd
kill <pid>
/usr/sbin/rpc.nisd -r -S 0

Use keylogout to remove roots key:

keylogout -f

Add root's key and push it into the directories:

nisaddcred des
ps -ef | grep keyserv
kill <pid>
nisupdkeys `nisdefaults -d`
nisupdkeys org_dir.`nisdefaults -d`
nisupdkeys groups_dir.`nisdefaults -d`

Make sure the changes have been propagate:

/usr/lib/nis/nisping `nisdefaults -d`
/usr/lib/nis/nisping org_dir.`nisdefaults -d`
/usr/lib/nis/nisping groups_dir.`nisdefaults -d`

Apply /usr/lib/nis/nisping to any other directories that you may have

Kill & restart NIS at security level 2:

ps -ef | grep rpc.nisd
kill <pid>
/usr/sbin/rpc.nisd -S 2

3.20: How to promote a NIS+ root replica server to a root master server

NOTE: In the following examples, <master> indicates the name of the old
master server, <replica> indicates the name of the old replica server,
and `domainname` indicates the domainname. Items such as <rpc.nisd pid>
indicate the pid for the given process, obtained with the following

ps -ef | grep <processname>

All other punctuation should be typed as written.

1 - Create master's objects for replica:

On Master machine:
# nsmkdir -m <replica> groups_dir.`domainname`.
# nsmkdir -m <replica> org_dir.`domainname`.
# nsmkdir -m <replica> `domainname`.

2 - Copy root.object of master

On Replica machine:
# rcp <master>:/var/nis/<master>root.object /var/nis/<replica>
or for greater than Solaris 2.5
# rcp <master>:/var/nis/<data>root.object /var/nis/<data>

Move root.object from master /var/nis/[<master>|data] directory to somewhere
else (don't delete it as you may need to reverse the process if it
goes wrong)

3 - Kill rpc.nisd and nis_cachemgr on both master and replica:

# kill <rpc.nisd pid> <nis_cachemgr pid>

4 - Restart rpc.nisd and nis_cachemgr on the new replica server:

On new replica machine:
# /usr/sbin/rpc.nisd -S 0
# /usr/sbin/nis_cachemgr -i

5 - Access the domainname directory and verify that the old replica is
now the master:

On new master machine:
# nisshowcache -v
# niscat -o groups_dir.`domainname`.
# niscat -o org_dir.`domainname`.
# niscat -o `domainname`.

6 - If the contents of the cache still shows the old master server to be
the old master, do the following on the new master:

# nsmkdir -m <newmaster> groups_dir.`domainname`.
# nsmkdir -m <newmaster> org_dir.`domainname`.

7 - Change the ownership of the directories

# nischown <newmaster> groups_dir.`domainname`.
# nischown <newmaster> org_dir.`domainname`.

8 - Change the ownership of all the tables within the directories

# for tables in `nisls org_dir | grep -v org_dir`
> do
> nischown <newmaster> $tables.org_dir
> done
# for tables in `nisls groups_dir | grep -v groups_dir`
> do
> nischown <newmaster> $tables.groups_dir
> done

9 - Check the tables and directory structures are owned by the correct

# niscat -o org_dir
# niscat -o hosts.org_dir etc...

10 - Remove the old replica from replicating the directory structures

# nisrmdir -s <oldmaster> groups_dir.`domainname`.
# nisrmdir -s <oldmaster> org_dir.`domainname`.
# nisrmdir -s <oldmaster> `domainname`.

11 - Checkpoint the domain

# nisping -C groups_dir.`domainname`.
# nisping -C org_dir.`domainname`.
# nisping -C `domainname`.

12 - If they are all now owned and replicated by the correct machine,
stop and restart rpc.nisd in security level 2

# kill <rpc.nisd pid> <nis_cachemgr pid>
# /usr/sbin/rpc.nisd
# /usr/sbin/nis_cachemgr -i

13 - Check as users and root that all is well.

14 - On the old master, clear out the old info and make it a client of
the domain
Remove everything from /var/nis except NIS_COLD_START and
Put the name and IP number of the new master in the /etc/hosts
# nisinit -c -H <newmaster>

15 - Make the old master a replica of the domain

On the new replica, start rpc.nisd.

On the master

# nismkdir -s <replica> groups_dir.`domainname`.
# nismkdir -s <replica> org_dir.`domainname`.
# nismkdir -s <replica> `domainname`.

# nisping -C groups_dir.`domainname`. (note: server busy messages are
# nisping -C org_dir.`domainname`. (generated because the previous
# nisping -C `domainname`. (command has not finished.

16 - On each client, kill nis_cachemgr

# kill <nis_cachemgr pid>

17 - On each client, get a new coldstart file from the new master server

# nisinit -c -H <newmaster>

18 - On each client, restart nis_cachemgr

# kill <nis_cachemgr pid>
# /usr/sbin/nis_cachemgr -i

3.21: How to dump the cred table

You need to dump the cred table in two parts.

1 - To dump the DES creds:
nisaddent -d -t cred.org_dir publickey > des_cred_table
2 - To dump the local creds:
nisaddent -d -t cred.org_dir netid > local_cred_table

+3.22: How do I backup/recover NIS+ directory objects.

Starting with Solaris 2.6 there are two new commands.
nisbackup and nisrestores. These two command are used to
backup NIS+ directory objects on a NIS+ master server. nisbackup
will backup the directory objects passed to it to a directory.

This will backup the directory objects listed to /nisbackups
nisbackup /nisbackups root.dom. org_dir.root.dom. groups_dir.root.dom.

This will restore all directory objects in /nisbackups
nisrestore -a /nisbackups

4.0 Common Problems

4.1: Miscellaneous Questions

Q1: What are the main features of NIS+?
Q2: What new functionality does NIS+ have?
Q3: What are the differences between NIS and NIS+?

A: NIS name space is a flat namespace, which means that it does not
support subdomains. Under NIS, only one domain is accesible from a
given host. In NIS+, the namespace is hierarchical. This hierarchical
structure is similar to the UNIX filesystem structure. Since the NIS+
namespace is hierarchical, it can be configured to conform with the
logical hierarchy of the organization. This means that you can create
subdomains for different levels of organizations.

In NIS, even for a small change in the map, the master server needs to
push the whole map to the slave servers. Whereas, in NIS+, the
database updates are incremental. This means that only changes in the
map are replicated to replica servers. Therefore, NIS+ database
updates are more efficient and less time consuming.

Another important difference between NIS and NIS+ is server binding.
In NIS, clients are hard bound to a specific server. During the bootup
time, the ypbind process on the client side binds to a specific
server. However, the NIS+ client library is not a seperate process.
In NIS, the ypwhich command can tell you to which specific server the
client is bound to, but that is not possible in NIS+. In other words,
the binding in nis+ is soft binding.

NIS maps can be searched by only one predefined searchable column.
NIS+ tables allow more than one searchable columns.

NIS supports UNIX groups and netgroups. NIS+ also supports the concept
of NIS+ group. One or more NIS+ users can be grouped together into a
NIS+ group. Multiple NIS+ groups can be defined, each with different
access and modification rights to the NIS+ namespace.

NIS+ also has much improved security:

NIS does not support authentication, authorization and secure RPC,
whereas NIS+ supports authentication, authorization and secure RPC.

Q: What is my network passwd?

A: In most cases, your network passwd should be the same as your login
passwd. When NIS+ is just getting setup, network passwds are often set
to 'nisplus'.

Q: Why can't I have machines and users with the same name?

A: All machines and users must have credentials created for them. If
you have a machine and a user with the same name, only one of them
will be able to have credentials. In case of a naming conflict of this
sort, you should change the machine's name you may have to recreate
credentials for the user and machine afterwards:

%% nisclient -c user
%% nisclient -c machine

4.2: NIS+ Setup Problems

Q: Why does nisserver fail when I run it, as described in Section 3.4?

A: If for some reason the nisserver script fails, check the error
message. It will give some ideas about the failure. Another option is
to do the configuration manually using nisinit, and nissetup, as is
described in the Name Services Administration Guide. This will give an
idea about which step the script is failing in. This can help to
diagnose the problem better. If the nisinit -r step hangs, then check
if you are running DNI. The DNI installation modifies /etc/netconfig
file with this line:

nsp tpi_cots_ord - decnet nsp /dev/nsp /usr/lib/

If you comment this line out and then run the script again, it will
work correctly.

4.3: User Login Problems

Q: Why do I get the following error on login:

"Password does not decrypt secret key for ..."

A: This means that the user's login password and network password do
not match. After login, the user must run keylogin to get their NIS+

%% keylogin

They will have to type their NIS+ network password at the keylogin
prompt. This may very well be 'nisplus' if the user is logging in for
the first time. Afterwards, the user should run chkey, to synch his
login and network passwds:

%% chkey

Q: Why do I get the following error on login:

"/usr/bin/passwd: <user> does not exist"
"Connection closed by foreign host."

A1: This can be the result of selecting "cleared until first login" in
admintool, when you initially create a user. You should instead select
a normal password for a user when you create his account.

A2: If you are trying to use password aging, you must install the
password agin point patch, as noted in Section 5.0.

Q: Why can't I log in via xdm?

A: This is a known bug. Sections 5.3 and 5.4 list the patches for this

4.4: NIS+ Lookup Problems

Q: Why do I get inconsistant results when I do certain NIS+ lookups?

A: In NIS+, the server binding is a soft binding. That is, every query
may be accessing a different server. Therefore, if a replica is not in
sync with the master, clients will get inconsistant information for
every query. When you get inconsistant information for queries run the
snoop command (see Section 2.3) to find out which server is providing
the incorrect information.

5.0 Patches

5.0: Patches

The following is the list of all of the NIS+ patches for 5.3 and 5.4.
If you are having NIS+ problems, installing the patches is a good
place to start, especially if you recognize the general symptoms noted

In order for a machine to be stable, all of the recommended patches
should be installed as well. The list of recommended patches for your
operating system is available from

5.1: Solaris 2.3 NIS+ Patches

101318 SunOS 5.3: Jumbo patch for kernel (includes libc, lockd)
101384 SunOS 5.3: Admintool Jumbo patch
101582 SunOS 5.3: POINT PATCH: Password aging & NIS+ don't work (together)
101736 SunOS 5.3: nisplus patch
102447 OpenWindows 3.3: xdm cannot be used on NIS+ networks
103269 SunOS 5.3: nissetup default permissions not secure enough

5.2: Solaris 2.4 NIS+ Patches

101945 SunOS 5.4: jumbo patch for kernel
102294 OpenWindows 3.4: xdm cannot be used on NIS+ networks
102336 SunOS 5.4: POINT PATCH: 1091205 - Password aging & NIS+ don't work
103270 SunOS 5.4: nissetup default permissions not secure enough
101974 SunOS 5.4_x86: libnsl, nistbladm & ypbind fixes

5.3: Solaris 2.5(.1) NIS+ Patches

103066 SunOS 5.5: rpc.nisd hangs in write(2)
103187 SunOS 5.5: libc, libnsl, libucb, nis_cachemgr and rpc.nisd
103188 SunOS 5.5_x86: libc, libnsl, libucb, nis_cachemgr and rpc.nisd patch
103266 SunOS 5.5: nissetup default permissions for password table not secure
104968 SunOS 5.5.1: chkey and newkey patch
103612 SunOS 5.5.1: libc libnsl libucb nis_cachemgr and rpc.nisd patch
103613 SunOS 5.5.1_x86: libc, libnsl, libucb, nis_cachemgr andrpc.nisd patch
104969 SunOS 5.5.1_x86: chkey and newkey patch

5.3: Solaris 2.6 NIS+ Patches
105562 SunOS 5.6: chkey and keylogin patch
105563 SunOS 5.6_x86: chkey and keylogin patch
105564 SunOS 5.6: /kernel/misc/rpcsec patch
105565 SunOS 5.6_x86: /kernel/misc/rpcsec patch
105401 SunOS 5.6: libnsl and NIS+ commands patch
105402 SunOS 5.6_x86: libnsl and NIS+ commands patch

5.4: Solaris 7 Patches
107215 SunOS 5.7: /usr/sbin/rpc.nisd patch

6.0 References

6.1: Important Man Pages


6.2: Sunsolve Documents

There are a number of Sunsolve documents concerning NIS+
To access these documents you must have a sunsolve id.

6.2.1: FAQs

1012 NIS+ questions

6.2.2: Infodocs

2216 NIS+ questions
11742 How to convert a NIS+ root replica server to a root master
17749Procedure to change the root users password on NIS+ machines

6.2.3: SRDBs

5816 fully qualified hostnames with NIS+
5874 nis+ database recovery
6285 change of root passwd on NIS+ server breaks authenticat
6487 differences between NIS and NIS+
6640 why does NIS+ require passwords
6616 is it possible to revert to NIS
7202 cannot change NIS passwords served by NIS+ servers
10448 Changing the NIS+ master server.
10941 NIS+ error messages
10951 NIS+ servers unreachable
11728 Changing a NIS+ server's IP address.
11742 How to convert a NIS+ root replica server to a root master server
14994 Changed root master's IP address in AdminSuite, nis+ credentials are now bad.
18603 NIS+ master and replica are out of sync now what?
19155 Rebuilding NIS+ root master credentials

6.3: Sun Educational Services

NIS+ concepts and administration offered by SUNED (contact 1-800 number to get
more information)

*Solaris 2.X NIS+ Administration with Workshop

6.4: Solaris Documentation

Name Services Administration Guide, part #801-6633-10
Name Services Configuration Guide, part #801-6635-10
Online docs for NIS+ are availble via

6.5: Third Party Documentation

All About Administering NIS+, by Rick Ramsey, Prentice Hall
ISBN 0-13-309576-2

6.6: RFCs

There are no RFCs on NIS+.

Send additions/corrections to: Ray W. Hiltbrand (Ray.W.Hiltbrand@Eng.Auburn.EDU)

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