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4.2 Using netgroups

If you use the network information service (NIS) on your local network then you may already have defined netgroups consisting of lists of hosts which belong to specific owners at your site. If you have, then you can use these groups within cfengine. This means that you can use the same groups in the /etc/exports file as you use to define the mount groups and classes.

A netgroup is a list of hostnames or user names which are registered in the network information service (NIS) database under a specific name. In our case we shall only be interested in lists of hostnames.

To make a netgroup you need to define a list in the file /etc/netgroup on your NIS server. If you are not the NIS administrator, you will have to ask to have a netgroup installed. The form of a netgroup list of hosts is:

 
mylist-name      (host1,,) (host2,,) (host3,,) (host4,,)

norway-sun4-host (saga,,) (tor,,) (odin,,)
foes-linux-hosts (borg,,)

Each list item has three entries, but only the first is relevant for a host list. See the manual pages on netgroups for a full explanation of the meaning of these fields.

The usefulness of netgroups is that they can be used to stand for a list of hostnames in system files like `/etc/exports'. This compresses the amount of text in this file from a long list to a single name. It also means that if you use the same list of hosts from a netgroup inside cfengine when defining groups and classes, you can be sure that you are always using the same list. In particular it means that you don't have to update multiple copies of a list of hosts.

The netgroups can now be used in cfengine programs by using the + or @+ symbols in the groups section. (see Reference manual).


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