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USENIX Tenth System Administration Conference (LISA '96)

The Design and Implementation of a Network Account Management System

J. Archer Harris
James Madison University

Gregory Gingerich
Bell Atlantic


In many heterogeneous UNIX networks, users require accounts with attributes that vary by machine. This creates a complex management job. This paper reports on a software system for creating and maintaining network accounts.

Commercial and publicly available tools are briefly examined. Disadvantages of commercial tools are found to be high expense, difficulty of modification, and uncertainty of availability on future platforms. NIS and NIS+ are found to lack sufficient flexibility. Kerberos is determined to be an authentication system, not a user management tool.

The Network Account Management System (NAMS) is described. It addresses two key requirements. First, that users be able to have a single login across machines on a network, creating the abstraction of a ``network account.'' Second, that these accounts allow for attributes such as home directory, expiration date, and login shell to vary by machine.

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