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Chapter 24. User Management and Machine ... > Multiple Users and Multiple Machines...

Multiple Users and Multiple Machines: Creating Clusters

Since almost the dawn of computing, the Unix operating system has supported the notion of a cooperating group of machines that share user information between them. The concept of clustering includes the idea that the machines should share not only information, but also sufficient resources so that any user with an account on the cluster can use any machine in the cluster, and the experience will be indistinguishable from using any other machine.

The user information traditionally is shared among the machines in the cluster by using a technology known as NIS (the Network Information System, originally known as the Yellow Pages) that was developed by Sun Microsystems. File systems (containing user accounts and software) are shared to members of the cluster using NFS (the Network File System). NFS is still the preferred way of sharing file systems under OS X, but Apple has provided a slightly more complex, and considerably more powerful, method of sharing user information: the NetInfo system. Not only is the information in NetInfo databases used for configuration of your own machine, but if you choose, this information can be shared to other machines.


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