NIS was originally developed by Sun and called "Yellow Pages,'' but the name was dropped after a legal conflict with British Telecom over their trademark on those words. However, most of the commands and filenames associated with NIS have the letters yp in them.
A NIS server provides a set of users, groups (and optionally other facilities) across the network. Clients that are set up with NIS client software talk to the NIS server to retrieve user and group information. When users log in, authentication is done against the information held on the server. This can guarantee that the same set of users and groups exist on each of the clients and, furthermore, that the user and group IDs will be synchronized across the network.
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