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Part III: System and Network Administration > Directory Services and NetInfo

Chapter 12. Directory Services and NetInfo

Mac OS X machines use directory services to get information about their users and available network services. These are various programs and protocols that run on both your local machine and on other computers and devices networked to it, which accept queries about administrative information or broadcast the availability of network services.[1] Mac OS X abstracts the usage and configuration of all these directory services into a single system called Open Directory.

[1] The word directory here has nothing to do with Unix filesystem directories, and everything to do with directory services' role as network-based information lookup tables for your computer, just as telephone directories are book-based phone number lookup tables for you.

This chapter introduces the fundamentals of Open Directory and the tools that Mac OS X makes available to work with it. It puts special emphasis on the NetInfo system, which Mac OS X uses to store and retrieve administrative information. Later chapters about administrative tasks (such as user account maintenance and setting up shared printing services) will cover specific applications of the NetInfo database and other Open Directory services.


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