Do you look after a network of Unix systems? Well, if you do not manage your Unix network centrally then this book is for you. The first edition was actually the first O'Reily book I bought and at that time it was well worth the cost. So what is the book about and is it worth the money?
The book in essence provides you with the knowledge to administrate the configuration of your UNIX network from a central server using tools supplied as default with virtually all Unix distributions. This can be a HUGE timesaver depending on how many systems you have and more importantly how often your system changes. Using Network Information Service (NIS), one can distribute configuration information regarding login accounts, network services and application locations for example. Some instruction is given on how to design a robust NIS domain.
Having your users home storage, tools and data available centrally is also desirable and this book describes how this is done using the Network File System (NFS). Although the book was written for Solaris, differences between other Unix flavours are documented.
Time has changed since the first edition was published and comparisons with NIS with other directory services that have arisen since then are given. The new edition now covers NFS version 3, improved security options and more tools to analyse network and NFS performance. It is written in an easy to read style and presents the subject matter well using real world examples.
The book covers in detail subjects like the automounter, PCNFS, network security, network diagnostics, NFS diagnostics and performance analysis.
A curious note: in order to find out how to add a new map in NIS, one had to dig deep. The first edition had an entire chapter on extending NIS to distribute telephone lists, etc. This has now been cut out. Considering some commercial applications (like Hummingbird Exceed on NT for example) can be configured via NIS it would have been useful to have information on extending NIS to support this. The baby has been thrown out with the bath water I thought.
If you administrate a collection of Unix systems of any flavour then buy this book. There will be always be something of interest that will make your Unix network easier to use and manage - guaranteed. If your network involves NT interconnectivity then still buy it but read the opinion on PCNFS verses SAMBA with an open mind. If you already have an earlier edition of this book then the choice is a little less clear cut.