Name service - angel or demon?

Name service can be one of the cruelest nightmares you'll face as a network administrator. I set up my network without it originally, but found Netscape's reactions to IP numbers totally unpredictable. It worked fine with names, but choked on the number about half the time. Not only that, but it wouldn't let me connect to user public_html directories at all if I used the number. (What are they? More later...)

Name service probably shouldn't be as difficult as it is. All you are doing is giving the computer a string and asking what number goes with that name. Once you have the right files set up, it runs by itself, and on a small network, that should be easier. Unfortunately, figuring out the cryptic codes that get used in the configuration files can make you invest in a small aspirin company, and even figuring out which files belong where can drive you kind of nuts. There are too many small pieces floating around, none of which quite make sense.

Some day someone will create a micro-nameserver for the Macintosh which lets the machine look up addresses locally. MacTCP has a hosts file that does this, but it's not Mac-like in the least. In the meantime, you'll fall into two camps: those who don't mind using numbers and who have software that likes numbers, and those who are stuck setting up name service.

If you don't feel like setting up name services, let's move on to setting up the NCSA httpd server. It's moderately less tortuous.

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Copyright 1995 by Simon St.Laurent. All rights reserved. You may print this document for yourself or others at no charge, but commercial distribution without permission is prohibited.

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