Replacement For NIS/NFS?

Home » CentOS » Replacement For NIS/NFS?
CentOS 5 Comments


Over the last few years, I’ve been using a rather bone-headed solution to implement centralized authentication and roamin user profiles in Linux-based networks: a combination of NIS and NFS.

I’m aware it’s not ideal in terms of security, but it’s been running in our local school since 2010, and it just works. The current setup is based on Slackware Linux on both server and desktop clients.

Here’s the relevant documentation (which I wrote):

BTW, the first two years this solution worked perfectly with CentOS 5.x on the server and on the desktop clients.

I’m currently migrating from Slackware to CentOS, and I’m looking for a
“business-grade” replacement of this more or less obsolete configuration.

I’ve read about various existing solutions, and I’m not quite sure in which direction to go from here: FreeIPA? 389 Directory Server?

Here’s what I want:

1. Users should be manageable through a GUI, probably a web interface, so the client can create, manage and delete them eventually.

2. Home directories should be created/deleted automagically under the hood.

3. Every user should be able to login on any machines and find his or her files and preferences.

What can you suggest? Is there some robust and well-documented solution that works more or less out of the box and doesn’t make me jump through burning loops?

I’m mainly using CentOS 7, but I’ll also have to use CentOS 6.x since in our school we have some older hardware that won’t run 7.x.

Cheers from the sunny South of France,

Niki Kovacs

Microlinux – Solutions informatiques 100% Linux et logiciels libres
7, place de l’église – 30730 Montpezat Web : Mail : Tél. : 04 66 63 10 32

5 thoughts on - Replacement For NIS/NFS?

  • You can tell NFSv4 to use kerberos not only to authenticate but also protect/encrypt the connection. Then, user logs in and homedir is automagically mounted.

    For ldap+kerberos in CentOS, freeipa might do what you want. It has a web-based gui and works rather well in CentOS. FYI freeip uses 389
    directory server instead of openLDAP.

  • FreeIPA is a good option, generally. As best I understand it, it’s currently available in a Docker container for CentOS.

    I haven’t heard about more standard packaging, but that might come along later…

    You can use pam_mkhomedir to create them, but archiving or deleting home directories would be a manual process.

    You can continue using NFS for that.

  • ipa-server is available from the base repos in both EL6 (v3.0) and EL7
    (v3.3). RHEL7.1 beta ships with version 4.1. EL6 clients are fully compatible with EL7 servers and vice versa.

    You should use pam_oddjob_mkhomedir for that, it requires fewer privileges and integrates nicely with SELinux.

    FreeIPA also supports automount/autofs.

    You should check out the FreeIPA demo (v4.1):

    – Jitse

  • +1 for freeipa. It is an extremely well integrated domain controller with a functionality similar to Microsoft Active Directory.

    I would highly recommend setting up an AWS Virtual Private Cloud or something similar and practice deploying freeipa a few times with a few clients. It takes some understanding of the caveats and implimentation before you will be able to deploy it successfully in a production environment.

    Good Luck!