NIS+ is a new version of the network information nameservice. This version differs in several significant ways from version 2, which is referred to as NIS or YP in earlier releases. Specific areas of enhancement include the ability to scale to larger networks, security, and the administration of the service.
The man pages for NIS+ are broken up into three basic categories. Those in section 1 are the user commands that are most often executed from a shell script or directly from the command line. Section 1M man pages describe utility commands that can be used by the network administrator to administer the service itself. The NIS+ programming API is described by man pages in section 3NSL.
All commands and functions that use NIS version 2 are prefixed by the letters yp as in ypmatch(1), ypcat(1), yp_match(3NSL), and yp_first(3NSL). Commands and functions that use the new replacement software NIS+ are prefixed by the letters nis as in nismatch(1), nischown(1), nis_list(3NSL), and nis_add_entry(3NSL). A complete list of NIS+ commands is in the LIST OF COMMANDS section.
This man page introduces the NIS+ terminology. It also describes the NIS+ namespace, authentication, and authorization policies.
The naming model of NIS+ is based upon a tree structure. Each node in the tree corresponds to an NIS+ object. There are six types of NIS+ objects: directory, table, group, link, entry, and private.
Each NIS+ namespace has at least one NIS+ directory object. An NIS+ directory is like a UNIX file system directory which contains other NIS+ objects including NIS+ directories. The NIS+ directory that forms the root of the NIS+ namespace is called the root directory. There are two special NIS+ directories: org_dir and groups_dir. The org_dir directory consists of all the system-wide administration tables, such as passwd, hosts, and mail_aliases. The groups_dir directory consists of NIS+ group objects which are used for access control. The collection of org_dir, groups_dir and their parent directory is referred to as an NIS+ domain. NIS+ directories can be arranged in a tree-like structure so that the NIS+ namespace can match the organizational or administrative hierarchy.
NIS+ tables (not files), contained within NIS+ directories, store the actual information about some particular type. For example, the hosts system table stores information about the IP address of the hosts in that domain. NIS+ tables are multicolumn and the tables can be searched through any of the searchable columns. Each table object defines the schema for its table. The NIS+ tables consist of NIS+ entry objects. For each entry in the NIS+ table, there is an NIS+ entry object. NIS+ entry objects conform to the schema defined by the NIS+ table object.
NIS+ group objects are used for access control at group granularity. NIS+ group objects, contained within the groups_dir directory of a domain, contain a list of all the NIS+ principals within a certain NIS+ group. An NIS+ principal is a user or a machine making NIS+ requests.
NIS+ link objects are like UNIX symbolic file-system links and are typically used for shortcuts in the NIS+ namespace.
Refer to nis_objects(3NSL) for more information about the NIS+ objects.
The NIS+ service defines two forms of names, simple names and indexed names. Simple names are used by the service to identify NIS+ objects contained within the NIS+ namespace. Indexed names are used to identify NIS+ entries contained within NIS+ tables. Furthermore, entries within NIS+ tables are returned to the caller as NIS+ objects of type entry. NIS+ objects are implemented as a union structure which is described in the file <rpcsvc/nis_object.x>. The differences between the various types and the meanings of the components of these objects are described in nis_objects(3NSL).
Simple names consist of a series of labels that are separated by the `.'(dot) character. Each label is composed of printable characters from the ISO Latin 1 set. Each label can be of any nonzero length, provided that the fully qualified name is fewer than NIS_MAXNAMELEN octets including the separating dots. (See <rpcsvc/nis.h> for the actual value of NIS_MAXNAMELEN in the current release.) Labels that contain special characters (see Grammar) must be quoted.
The NIS+ namespace is organized as a singly rooted tree. Simple names identify nodes within this tree. These names are constructed such that the leftmost label in a name identifies the leaf node and all of the labels to the right of the leaf identify that object's parent node. The parent node is referred to as the leaf's directory. This is a naming directory and should not be confused with a file system directory.
For example, the name example.simple.name. is a simple name with three labels, where example is the leaf node in this name, the directory of this leaf is simple.name. which by itself is a simple name. The leaf of which is simple and its directory is simply name.
The function nis_leaf_of(3NSL) returns the first label of a simple name. The function nis_domain_of(3NSL) returns the name of the directory that contains the leaf. Iterative use of these two functions can break a simple name into each of its label components.
The name `.' (dot) is reserved to name the global root of the namespace. For systems that are connected to the Internet, this global root is served by a Domain Name Service. When an NIS+ server is serving a root directory whose name is not `.'(dot) this directory is referred to as a local root.
NIS+ names are said to be fully qualified when the name includes all of the labels identifying all of the directories, up to the global root. Names without the trailing dot are called partially qualified.
Indexed names are compound names that are composed of a search criterion and a simple name. The search criterion component is used to select entries from a table; the simple name component is used to identify the NIS+ table that is to be searched. The search criterion is a series of column names and their desired values enclosed in bracket `' characters. These criteria take the following form:
[column_name=value, column_name =value , ... ]
A search criterion is combined with a simple name to form an indexed name by concatenating the two parts, separated by a `,'(comma) character as follows.
[ search-criterion ],table.directory
When multiple column name/value pairs are present in the search criterion, only those entries in the table that have the appropriate value in all columns specified are returned. When no column name/value pairs are specified in the search criterion, , all entries in the table are returned.
The following text represents a context-free grammar that defines the set of legal NIS+ names. The terminals in this grammar are the characters `.' (dot), `[' (open bracket), `]' (close bracket), `,' (comma), `=' (equals) and whitespace. Angle brackets (`<' and `>'), which delineate non-terminals, are not part of the grammar. The character `|' (vertical bar) is used to separate alternate productions and should be read as ``this production OR this production''.
|name||::=||. | <simple name> | <indexed name>|
|simple name||::=||<string>. | <string>.<simple name>|
Terminals that appear in strings must be quoted with `"' (double quote). The `"' character can be quoted by quoting it with itself `""'.
The NIS+ service only accepts fully qualified names. However, since such names can be unwieldy, the NIS+ commands in section 1 employ a set of standard expansion rules that attempt to fully qualify a partially qualified name. This expansion is actually done by the NIS+ library function nis_getnames(3NSL) which generates a list of names using the default NIS+ directory search path or the NIS_PATH environment variable. The default NIS+ directory search path includes all the names in its path. nis_getnames() is invoked by the functions nis_lookup(3NSL) and nis_list(3NSL) when the EXPAND_NAME flag is used.
The NIS_PATH environment variable contains an ordered list of simple names. The names are separated by the `:' (colon) character. If any name in the list contains colons, the colon should be quoted as described in the Grammar section. When the list is exhausted, the resolution function returns the error NIS_NOTFOUND. This can mask the fact that the name existed but a server for it was unreachable. If the name presented to the list or lookup interface is fully qualified, the EXPAND_NAME flag is ignored.
In the list of names from the NIS_PATH environment variable, the '$' (dollar sign) character is treated specially. Simple names that end with the label '$' have this character replaced by the default directory (see nis_local_directory(3NSL)). Using "$" as a name in this list results in this name being replaced by the list of directories between the default directory and the global root that contain at least two labels.
Below is an example of this expansion. Given the default directory of some.long.domain.name., and the NIS_PATH variable set to fred.bar.:org_dir.$:$. This path is initially broken up into the list:
The dollar sign in the second component is replaced by the default directory. The dollar sign in the third component is replaced with the names of the directories between the default directory and the global root that have at least two labels in them. The effective path value becomes:
Each of these simple names is appended to the partially qualified name that was passed to the nis_lookup(3NSL) or nis_list(3NSL) interface. Each is tried in turn until NIS_SUCCESS is returned or the list is exhausted.
If the NIS_PATH variable is not set, the path ``$'' is used.
The library function nis_getnames(3NSL) can be called from user programs to generate the list of names that would be attempted. The program nisdefaults(1) with the -s option can also be used to show the fully expanded path.
Normally, all the entries for a certain type of information are stored within the table itself. However, there are times when it is desirable for the table to point to other tables where entries can be found. For example, you might want to store all the IP addresses in the host table for their own domain, and yet want to be able to resolve hosts in some other domain without explicitly specifying the new domain name. NIS+ provides a mechanism for concatenating different but related tables with a "NIS+ Concatenation Path". With a concatenation path, you can create a sort of flat namespace from a hierarchical structure. You can also create a table with no entries and just point the hosts or any other table to its parent domain. Notice that with such a setup, you are moving the administrative burden of managing the tables to the parent domain. The concatenation path slows down the request response time because more tables and more servers are searched. It also decreases the availability if all the servers are incapacitated for a particular directory in the table path.
The NIS+ Concatenation Path is also referred to as the "table path". This path is set up at table creation time through nistbladm(1). You can specify more than one table to be concatenated and they are searched in the given order. Notice that the NIS+ client libraries, by default, do not follow the concatenation path set in site-specific tables. Refer to nis_list(3NSL) for more details.
The NIS+ service defines two additional disjoint namespaces for its own use. These namespaces are the NIS+ Principal namespace, and the NIS+ Group namespace. The names associated with the group and principal namespaces are syntactically identical to simple names. However, the information they represent cannot be obtained by directly presenting these names to the NIS+ interfaces. Instead, special interfaces are defined to map these names into NIS+ names so that they can then be resolved.
NIS+ principal names are used to uniquely identify users and machines that are making NIS+ requests. These names have the form:
Here domain is the fully qualified name of an NIS+ directory where the named principal's credentials can be found. See Directories and Domains for more information on domains. Notice that in this name, principal, is not a leaf in the NIS+ namespace.
Credentials are used to map the identity of a host or user from one context such as a process UID into the NIS+ context. They are stored as records in an NIS+ table named cred, which always appears in the org_dir subdirectory of the directory named in the principal name.
This mapping can be expressed as a replacement function:
principal.domain ->[cname=principal.domain ],cred.org_dir.domain
This latter name is an NIS+ name that can be presented to the nis_list(3NSL) interface for resolution. NIS+ principal names are administered using the nisaddcred(1M) command.
The cred table contains five columns named cname, auth_name, auth_type, public_data, and private_data. There is one record in this table for each identity mapping for an NIS+ principal. The current service supports three types of mappings:
The NIS+ client library function nis_local_principal(3NSL) uses the cred.org_dir table to map the UNIX notion of an identity, a process' UID, into an NIS+ principal name. Shell programs can use the program nisdefaults(1) with the -p switch to return this information.
Mapping from UIDs to an NIS+ principal name is accomplished by constructing a query of the form:
This query returs a record containing the NIS+ principal name associated with this UID, in the machine's default domain.
The NIS+ service uses the DES mapping to map the names associated with Secure RPC requests into NIS+ principal names. RPC requests that use Secure RPC include the netname of the client making the request in the RPC header. This netname has the form:
The service constructs a query using this name of the form:
where the domain part is extracted from the netname rather than using the default domain. This query is used to look up the mapping of this netname into an NIS+ principal name in the domain where it was created.
This mechanism of mapping UID and netnames into an NIS+ principal name guarantees that a client of the NIS+ service has only one principal name. This principal name is used as the basis for authorization which is described below. All objects in the NIS+ namespace and all entries in NIS+ tables must have an owner specified for them. This owner field always contains an NIS+ principal name.
Like NIS+ principal names, NIS+ group names take the form:
All objects in the NIS+ namespace and all entries in NIS+ tables can optionally have a group owner specified for them. This group owner field, when filled in, always contains the fully qualified NIS+ group name.
The NIS+ client library defines several interfaces (nis_groups(3NSL)) for dealing with NIS+ groups. These interfaces internally map NIS+ group names into an NIS+ simple name which identifies the NIS+ group object associated with that group name. This mapping can be shown as follows:
group.domain -> group.groups_dir.domain
This mapping eliminates collisions between NIS+ group names and NIS+ directory names. For example, without this mapping, a directory with the name engineering.foo.com., would make it impossible to have a group named engineering.foo.com.. This is due to the restriction that within the NIS+ namespace, a name unambiguously identifies a single object. With this mapping, the NIS+ group name engineering.foo.com. maps to the NIS+ object name engineering.groups_dir.foo.com.
The contents of a group object is a list of NIS+ principal names, and the names of other NIS+ groups. See nis_groups(3NSL) for a more complete description of their use.
NIS+ defines a security model to control access to information managed by the service. The service defines access rights that are selectively granted to individual clients or groups of clients. Principal names and group names are used to define clients and groups of clients that can be granted or denied access to NIS+ information. These principals and groups are associated with NIS+ domains as defined below.
The security model also uses the notion of a class of principals called nobody, which contains all clients, whether or not they have authenticated themselves to the service. The class world includes any client who has been authenticated.
Some directories within the NIS+ namespace are referred to as NIS+ Domains. Domains are those NIS+ directories that contain the subdirectories groups_dir and org_dir. Further, the subdirectory org_dir should contain the table named cred. NIS+ Group names and NIS+ Principal names always include the NIS+ domain name after their first label.
The NIS+ name service uses Secure RPC for the integrity of the NIS+ service. This requires that users of the service and their machines must have a Secure RPC key pair associated with them. This key is initially generated with either the nisaddcred(1M) or nisclient(1M) commands and modified with the chkey(1) or nispasswd(1) commands.
The use of Secure RPC allows private information to be stored in the name service that is not available to untrusted machines or users on the network.
In addition to the Secure RPC key, users need a mapping of their UID into an NIS+ principal name. This mapping is created by the system administrator using either the nisclient(1M) or the nisaddcred(1M) command.
Users that are using machines in several NIS+ domains must insure that they have a local credential entry in each of those domains. This credential should be created with the NIS+ principal name of the user in the user's ``home'' domain. For the purposes of NIS+ and Secure RPC, the home domain is defined to be the one where the user's Secure RPC key pair is located.
Although extended Diffie-Hellman keys use an alternative to Secure RPC, administration is done through the same commands. See nisauthconf(1M).
The NIS+ service defines four access rights that can be granted or denied to clients of the service. These rights are read, modify, create, and destroy. These rights are specified in the object structure at creation time and can be modified later with the nischmod(1) command. In general, the rights granted for an object apply only to that object. However, for purposes of authorization, rights granted to clients reading directory and table objects are granted to those clients for all of the objects ``contained'' by the parent object. This notion of containment is abstract. The objects do not actually contain other objects within them. Notice that group objects do contain the list of principals within their definition.
Access rights are interpreted as follows:
Each of these rights can be granted to any one of four different categories.
Notice that for bootstrapping reasons, directory objects that are NIS+ domains, the org_dir subdirectory and the cred table within that subdirectory must have read access to the nobody principal. This makes navigation of the namespace possible when a client is in the process of locating its credentials. Granting this access does not allow the contents of other tables within org_dir to be read (such as the entries in the password table) unless the table itself gives "real" access rights to the nobody principal.
Additional capabilities are provided for granting access rights to clients for directories. These rights are contained within the object access rights (OAR) structure of the directory. This structure allows the NIS+ service to grant rights that are not granted by the directory object to be granted for objects contained by the directory of a specific type.
An example of this capability is a directory object which does not grant create access to all clients, but does grant create access in the OAR structure for group type objects to clients who are members of the NIS+ group associated with the directory. In this example the only objects that could be created as children of the directory would have to be of the type group.
Another example is a directory object that grants create access only to the owner of the directory, and then additionally grants create access through the OAR structure for objects of type table, link, group, and private to any member of the directory's group. This has the effect of giving nearly complete create access to the group with the exception of creating subdirectories. This restricts the creation of new NIS+ domains because creating a domain requires creating both a groups_dir and org_dir subdirectory.
Notice that there is currently no command line interface to set or change the OAR of the directory object.
As with directories, additional capabilities are provided for granting access to entries within tables. Rights granted to a client by the access rights field in a table object apply to the table object and all of the entry objects ``contained'' by that table. If an access right is not granted by the table object, it can be granted by an entry within the table. This holds for all rights except create.
For example, a table can not grant read access to a client performing a nis_list(3NSL) operation on the table. However, the access rights field of entries within that table can grant read access to the client. Notice that access rights in an entry are granted to the owner and group owner of the entry and not the owner or group of the table. When the list operation is performed, all entries that the client has read access to are returned. Those entries that do not grant read access are not returned. If none of the entries that match the search criterion grant read access to the client making the request, no entries are returned and the result status contains the NIS_NOTFOUND error code.
Access rights that are granted by the rights field in an entry are granted for the entire entry. However, in the table object an additional set of access rights is maintained for each column in the table. These rights apply to the equivalent column in the entry. The rights are used to grant access when neither the table nor the entry itself grant access. The access rights in a column specification apply to the owner and group owner of the entry rather than the owner and group owner of the table object.
When a read operation is performed, if read access is not granted by the table and is not granted by the entry but is granted by the access rights in a column, that entry is returned with the correct values in all columns that are readable and the string *NP* (No Permission) in columns where read access is not granted.
As an example, consider a client that has performed a list operation on a table that does not grant read access to that client. Each entry object that satisfied the search criterion specified by the client is examined to see if it grants read access to the client. If it does, it is included in the returned result. If it does not, then each column is checked to see if it grants read access to the client. If any columns grant read access to the client, data in those columns is returned. Columns that do not grant read access have their contents replaced by the string *NP*. If none of the columns grant read access, then the entry is not returned.
Most NIS+ operations have implied access control through the permissions on the objects that they manipulate. For example, in order to read an entry in a table, you must have read permission on that entry. However, some NIS+ operations by default perform no access checking at all and so are allowed for anyone.
See nisopaccess(1) for a description of how to enforce access control to these NIS+ operations.
The following lists all commands and programming functions related to NIS+:
nischown(1), nisdefaults(1), nismatch(1), nisopaccess(1), nispasswd(1), newkey(1M), nisaddcred(1M), nisauthconf(1M), nisclient(1M), nispopulate(1M), nisserver(1M), nis_add_entry(3NSL), nis_domain_of(3NSL), nis_getnames(3NSL), nis_groups(3NSL), nis_leaf_of(3NSL), nis_list(3NSL), nis_local_directory(3NSL), nis_lookup(3NSL), nis_objects(3NSL)
NIS+ might not be supported in future releases of the Solaris operating system. Tools to aid the migration from NIS+ to LDAP are available in the current Solaris release. For more information, visit http://www.sun.com/directory/nisplus/transition.html.