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@node Name Service Switch, Users and Groups, Job Control, Top
@chapter System Databases and Name Service Switch
@c %MENU% Accessing system databases
@cindex Name Service Switch
@cindex NSS
@cindex databases

Various functions in the C Library need to be configured to work
correctly in the local environment.  Traditionally, this was done by
using files (e.g., @file{/etc/passwd}), but other nameservices (like the
Network Information Service (NIS) and the Domain Name Service (DNS))
became popular, and were hacked into the C library, usually with a fixed
search order.

@Theglibc{} contains a cleaner solution to this problem.  It is
designed after a method used by Sun Microsystems in the C library of
@w{Solaris 2}.  @Theglibc{} follows their name and calls this
scheme @dfn{Name Service Switch} (NSS).

Though the interface might be similar to Sun's version there is no
common code.  We never saw any source code of Sun's implementation and
so the internal interface is incompatible.  This also manifests in the
file names we use as we will see later.


@menu
* NSS Basics::                  What is this NSS good for.
* NSS Configuration File::      Configuring NSS.
* NSS Module Internals::        How does it work internally.
* Extending NSS::               What to do to add services or databases.
@end menu

@node NSS Basics, NSS Configuration File, Name Service Switch, Name Service Switch
@section NSS Basics

The basic idea is to put the implementation of the different services
offered to access the databases in separate modules.  This has some
advantages:

@enumerate
@item
Contributors can add new services without adding them to @theglibc{}.
@item
The modules can be updated separately.
@item
The C library image is smaller.
@end enumerate

To fulfill the first goal above, the ABI of the modules will be described
below.  For getting the implementation of a new service right it is
important to understand how the functions in the modules get called.
They are in no way designed to be used by the programmer directly.
Instead the programmer should only use the documented and standardized
functions to access the databases.

@noindent
The databases available in the NSS are

@cindex ethers
@cindex group
@cindex hosts
@cindex netgroup
@cindex networks
@cindex protocols
@cindex passwd
@cindex rpc
@cindex services
@cindex shadow
@table @code
@item aliases
Mail aliases
@comment @pxref{Mail Aliases}.
@item ethers
Ethernet numbers,
@comment @pxref{Ethernet Numbers}.
@item group
Groups of users, @pxref{Group Database}.
@item hosts
Host names and numbers, @pxref{Host Names}.
@item netgroup
Network wide list of host and users, @pxref{Netgroup Database}.
@item networks
Network names and numbers, @pxref{Networks Database}.
@item protocols
Network protocols, @pxref{Protocols Database}.
@item passwd
User identities, @pxref{User Database}.
@item rpc
Remote procedure call names and numbers.
@comment @pxref{RPC Database}.
@item services
Network services, @pxref{Services Database}.
@item shadow
User passphrase hashes and related information.
@comment @pxref{Shadow Passphrase Database}.
@end table

@noindent
There will be some more added later (@code{automount}, @code{bootparams},
@code{netmasks}, and @code{publickey}).

@node NSS Configuration File, NSS Module Internals, NSS Basics, Name Service Switch
@section The NSS Configuration File

@cindex @file{/etc/nsswitch.conf}
@cindex @file{nsswitch.conf}
Somehow the NSS code must be told about the wishes of the user.  For
this reason there is the file @file{/etc/nsswitch.conf}.  For each
database, this file contains a specification of how the lookup process should
work.  The file could look like this:

@example
@include nsswitch.texi
@end example

The first column is the database as you can guess from the table above.
The rest of the line specifies how the lookup process works.  Please
note that you specify the way it works for each database individually.
This cannot be done with the old way of a monolithic implementation.

The configuration specification for each database can contain two
different items:

@itemize @bullet
@item
the service specification like @code{files}, @code{db}, or @code{nis}.
@item
the reaction on lookup result like @code{[NOTFOUND=return]}.
@end itemize

@menu
* Services in the NSS configuration::  Service names in the NSS configuration.
* Actions in the NSS configuration::  React appropriately to the lookup result.
* Notes on NSS Configuration File::  Things to take care about while
                                     configuring NSS.
@end menu

@node Services in the NSS configuration, Actions in the NSS configuration, NSS Configuration File, NSS Configuration File
@subsection Services in the NSS configuration File

The above example file mentions five different services: @code{files},
@code{db}, @code{dns}, @code{nis}, and @code{nisplus}.  This does not
mean these
services are available on all sites and neither does it mean these are
all the services which will ever be available.

In fact, these names are simply strings which the NSS code uses to find
the implicitly addressed functions.  The internal interface will be
described later.  Visible to the user are the modules which implement an
individual service.

Assume the service @var{name} shall be used for a lookup.  The code for
this service is implemented in a module called @file{libnss_@var{name}}.
On a system supporting shared libraries this is in fact a shared library
with the name (for example) @file{libnss_@var{name}.so.2}.  The number
at the end is the currently used version of the interface which will not
change frequently.  Normally the user should not have to be cognizant of
these files since they should be placed in a directory where they are
found automatically.  Only the names of all available services are
important.

@node Actions in the NSS configuration, Notes on NSS Configuration File, Services in the NSS configuration, NSS Configuration File
@subsection Actions in the NSS configuration

The second item in the specification gives the user much finer control
on the lookup process.  Action items are placed between two service
names and are written within brackets.  The general form is

@display
@code{[} ( @code{!}? @var{status} @code{=} @var{action} )+ @code{]}
@end display

@noindent
where

@smallexample
@var{status} @result{} success | notfound | unavail | tryagain
@var{action} @result{} return | continue
@end smallexample

The case of the keywords is insignificant.  The @var{status}
values are the results of a call to a lookup function of a specific
service.  They mean:

@ftable @samp
@item success
No error occurred and the wanted entry is returned.  The default action
for this is @code{return}.

@item notfound
The lookup process works ok but the needed value was not found.  The
default action is @code{continue}.

@item unavail
@cindex DNS server unavailable
The service is permanently unavailable.  This can either mean the needed
file is not available, or, for DNS, the server is not available or does
not allow queries.  The default action is @code{continue}.

@item tryagain
The service is temporarily unavailable.  This could mean a file is
locked or a server currently cannot accept more connections.  The
default action is @code{continue}.
@end ftable

@noindent
The @var{action} values mean:

@ftable @samp
@item return

If the status matches, stop the lookup process at this service
specification.  If an entry is available, provide it to the application.
If an error occurred, report it to the application.  In case of a prior
@samp{merge} action, the data is combined with previous lookup results,
as explained below.

@item continue

If the status matches, proceed with the lookup process at the next
entry, discarding the result of the current lookup (and any merged
data).  An exception is the @samp{initgroups} database and the
@samp{success} status, where @samp{continue} acts like @code{merge}
below.

@item merge

Proceed with the lookup process, retaining the current lookup result.
This action is useful only with the @samp{success} status.  If a
subsequent service lookup succeeds and has a matching @samp{return}
specification, the results are merged, the lookup process ends, and the
merged results are returned to the application.  If the following service
has a matching @samp{merge} action, the lookup process continues,
retaining the combined data from this and any previous lookups.

After a @code{merge} action, errors from subsequent lookups are ignored,
and the data gathered so far will be returned.

The @samp{merge} only applies to the @samp{success} status.  It is
currently implemented for the @samp{group} database and its group
members field, @samp{gr_mem}.  If specified for other databases, it
causes the lookup to fail (if the @var{status} matches).

When processing @samp{merge} for @samp{group} membership, the group GID
and name must be identical for both entries.  If only one or the other is
a match, the behavior is undefined.

@end ftable

@noindent
If we have a line like

@smallexample
ethers: nisplus [NOTFOUND=return] db files
@end smallexample

@noindent
this is equivalent to

@smallexample
ethers: nisplus [SUCCESS=return NOTFOUND=return UNAVAIL=continue
                 TRYAGAIN=continue]
        db      [SUCCESS=return NOTFOUND=continue UNAVAIL=continue
                 TRYAGAIN=continue]
        files
@end smallexample

@noindent
(except that it would have to be written on one line).  The default
value for the actions are normally what you want, and only need to be
changed in exceptional cases.

If the optional @code{!} is placed before the @var{status} this means
the following action is used for all statuses but @var{status} itself.
I.e., @code{!} is negation as in the C language (and others).

Before we explain the exception which makes this action item necessary
one more remark: obviously it makes no sense to add another action
item after the @code{files} service.  Since there is no other service
following the action @emph{always} is @code{return}.

@cindex nisplus, and completeness
Now, why is this @code{[NOTFOUND=return]} action useful?  To understand
this we should know that the @code{nisplus} service is often
complete; i.e., if an entry is not available in the NIS+ tables it is
not available anywhere else.  This is what is expressed by this action
item: it is useless to examine further services since they will not give
us a result.

@cindex nisplus, and booting
@cindex bootstrapping, and services
The situation would be different if the NIS+ service is not available
because the machine is booting.  In this case the return value of the
lookup function is not @code{notfound} but instead @code{unavail}.  And
as you can see in the complete form above: in this situation the
@code{db} and @code{files} services are used.  Neat, isn't it?  The
system administrator need not pay special care for the time the system
is not completely ready to work (while booting or shutdown or
network problems).


@node Notes on NSS Configuration File,  , Actions in the NSS configuration, NSS Configuration File
@subsection Notes on the NSS Configuration File

Finally a few more hints.  The NSS implementation is not completely
helpless if @file{/etc/nsswitch.conf} does not exist.  For
all supported databases there is a default value so it should normally
be possible to get the system running even if the file is corrupted or
missing.

@cindex default value, and NSS
For the @code{hosts} and @code{networks} databases the default value is
@code{dns [!UNAVAIL=return] files}.  I.e., the system is prepared for
the DNS service not to be available but if it is available the answer it
returns is definitive.

The @code{passwd}, @code{group}, and @code{shadow} databases are
traditionally handled in a special way.  The appropriate files in the
@file{/etc} directory are read but if an entry with a name starting
with a @code{+} character is found NIS is used.  This kind of lookup
remains possible if @theglibc{} was configured with the
@code{--enable-obsolete-nsl} option and the special lookup service
@code{compat} is used.  If @theglibc{} was configured with the
@code{--enable-obsolete-nsl} option the default value for the three
databases above is @code{compat [NOTFOUND=return] files}.  If the
@code{--enable-obsolete-nsl} option was not used the default value
for the services is @code{files}.

For all other databases the default value is @code{files} unless
@theglibc{} was configured with @code{--enable-obsolete-rpc} option, in
which case it the default value is @code{nis [NOTFOUND=return] files}.

@cindex optimizing NSS
A second point is that the user should try to optimize the lookup
process.  The different service have different response times.
A simple file look up on a local file could be fast, but if the file
is long and the needed entry is near the end of the file this may take
quite some time.  In this case it might be better to use the @code{db}
service which allows fast local access to large data sets.

Often the situation is that some global information like NIS must be
used.  So it is unavoidable to use service entries like @code{nis} etc.
But one should avoid slow services like this if possible.


@node NSS Module Internals, Extending NSS, NSS Configuration File, Name Service Switch
@section NSS Module Internals

Now it is time to describe what the modules look like.  The functions
contained in a module are identified by their names.  I.e., there is no
jump table or the like.  How this is done is of no interest here; those
interested in this topic should read about Dynamic Linking.
@comment @ref{Dynamic Linking}.


@menu
* NSS Module Names::            Construction of the interface function of
                                the NSS modules.
* NSS Modules Interface::       Programming interface in the NSS module
                                functions.
@end menu

@node NSS Module Names, NSS Modules Interface, NSS Module Internals, NSS Module Internals
@subsection The Naming Scheme of the NSS Modules

@noindent
The name of each function consists of various parts:

@quotation
       _nss_@var{service}_@var{function}
@end quotation

@var{service} of course corresponds to the name of the module this
function is found in.@footnote{Now you might ask why this information is
duplicated.  The answer is that we want to make it possible to link
directly with these shared objects.}  The @var{function} part is derived
from the interface function in the C library itself.  If the user calls
the function @code{gethostbyname} and the service used is @code{files}
the function

@smallexample
       _nss_files_gethostbyname_r
@end smallexample

@noindent
in the module

@smallexample
       libnss_files.so.2
@end smallexample

@noindent
@cindex reentrant NSS functions
is used.  You see, what is explained above in not the whole truth.  In
fact the NSS modules only contain reentrant versions of the lookup
functions.  I.e., if the user would call the @code{gethostbyname_r}
function this also would end in the above function.  For all user
interface functions the C library maps this call to a call to the
reentrant function.  For reentrant functions this is trivial since the
interface is (nearly) the same.  For the non-reentrant version the
library keeps internal buffers which are used to replace the user
supplied buffer.

I.e., the reentrant functions @emph{can} have counterparts.  No service
module is forced to have functions for all databases and all kinds to
access them.  If a function is not available it is simply treated as if
the function would return @code{unavail}
(@pxref{Actions in the NSS configuration}).

The file name @file{libnss_files.so.2} would be on a @w{Solaris 2}
system @file{nss_files.so.2}.  This is the difference mentioned above.
Sun's NSS modules are usable as modules which get indirectly loaded
only.

The NSS modules in @theglibc{} are prepared to be used as normal
libraries themselves.  This is @emph{not} true at the moment, though.
However,  the organization of the name space in the modules does not make it
impossible like it is for Solaris.  Now you can see why the modules are
still libraries.@footnote{There is a second explanation: we were too
lazy to change the Makefiles to allow the generation of shared objects
not starting with @file{lib} but don't tell this to anybody.}


@node NSS Modules Interface,  , NSS Module Names, NSS Module Internals
@subsection The Interface of the Function in NSS Modules

Now we know about the functions contained in the modules.  It is now
time to describe the types.  When we mentioned the reentrant versions of
the functions above, this means there are some additional arguments
(compared with the standard, non-reentrant versions).  The prototypes for
the non-reentrant and reentrant versions of our function above are:

@smallexample
struct hostent *gethostbyname (const char *name)

int gethostbyname_r (const char *name, struct hostent *result_buf,
                     char *buf, size_t buflen, struct hostent **result,
                     int *h_errnop)
@end smallexample

@noindent
The actual prototype of the function in the NSS modules in this case is

@smallexample
enum nss_status _nss_files_gethostbyname_r (const char *name,
                                            struct hostent *result_buf,
                                            char *buf, size_t buflen,
                                            int *errnop, int *h_errnop)
@end smallexample

I.e., the interface function is in fact the reentrant function with the
change of the return value, the omission of the @var{result} parameter,
and the addition of the @var{errnop} parameter.  While the user-level
function returns a pointer to the result the reentrant function return
an @code{enum nss_status} value:

@vtable @code
@item NSS_STATUS_TRYAGAIN
numeric value @code{-2}

@item NSS_STATUS_UNAVAIL
numeric value @code{-1}

@item NSS_STATUS_NOTFOUND
numeric value @code{0}

@item NSS_STATUS_SUCCESS
numeric value @code{1}
@end vtable

@noindent
Now you see where the action items of the @file{/etc/nsswitch.conf} file
are used.

If you study the source code you will find there is a fifth value:
@code{NSS_STATUS_RETURN}.  This is an internal use only value, used by a
few functions in places where none of the above value can be used.  If
necessary the source code should be examined to learn about the details.

In case the interface function has to return an error it is important
that the correct error code is stored in @code{*@var{errnop}}.  Some
return status values have only one associated error code, others have
more.

@multitable @columnfractions .3 .2 .50
@item
@code{NSS_STATUS_TRYAGAIN} @tab
        @code{EAGAIN} @tab One of the functions used ran temporarily out of
resources or a service is currently not available.
@item
@tab
        @code{ERANGE} @tab The provided buffer is not large enough.
The function should be called again with a larger buffer.
@item
@code{NSS_STATUS_UNAVAIL} @tab
        @code{ENOENT} @tab A necessary input file cannot be found.
@item
@code{NSS_STATUS_NOTFOUND} @tab
        @code{ENOENT} @tab The requested entry is not available.

@item
@code{NSS_STATUS_NOTFOUND} @tab
	@code{SUCCESS} @tab There are no entries.
Use this to avoid returning errors for inactive services which may
be enabled at a later time. This is not the same as the service
being temporarily unavailable.
@end multitable

These are proposed values.  There can be other error codes and the
described error codes can have different meaning.  @strong{With one
exception:} when returning @code{NSS_STATUS_TRYAGAIN} the error code
@code{ERANGE} @emph{must} mean that the user provided buffer is too
small.  Everything else is non-critical.

In statically linked programs, the main application and NSS modules do
not share the same thread-local variable @code{errno}, which is the
reason why there is an explicit @var{errnop} function argument.

The above function has something special which is missing for almost all
the other module functions.  There is an argument @var{h_errnop}.  This
points to a variable which will be filled with the error code in case
the execution of the function fails for some reason.  (In statically
linked programs, the thread-local variable @code{h_errno} is not shared
with the main application.)

The @code{get@var{XXX}by@var{YYY}} functions are the most important
functions in the NSS modules.  But there are others which implement
the other ways to access system databases (say for the
user database, there are @code{setpwent}, @code{getpwent}, and
@code{endpwent}).  These will be described in more detail later.
Here we give a general way to determine the
signature of the module function:

@itemize @bullet
@item
the return value is @code{enum nss_status};
@item
the name (@pxref{NSS Module Names});
@item
the first arguments are identical to the arguments of the non-reentrant
function;
@item
the next four arguments are:

@table @code
@item STRUCT_TYPE *result_buf
pointer to buffer where the result is stored.  @code{STRUCT_TYPE} is
normally a struct which corresponds to the database.
@item char *buffer
pointer to a buffer where the function can store additional data for
the result etc.
@item size_t buflen
length of the buffer pointed to by @var{buffer}.
@item int *errnop
the low-level error code to return to the application.  If the return
value is not @code{NSS_STATUS_SUCCESS}, @code{*@var{errnop}} needs to be
set to a non-zero value.  An NSS module should never set
@code{*@var{errnop}} to zero.  The value @code{ERANGE} is special, as
described above.
@end table

@item
possibly a last argument @var{h_errnop}, for the host name and network
name lookup functions.  If the return value is not
@code{NSS_STATUS_SUCCESS}, @code{*@var{h_errnop}} needs to be set to a
non-zero value.  A generic error code is @code{NETDB_INTERNAL}, which
instructs the caller to examine @code{*@var{errnop}} for further
details.  (This includes the @code{ERANGE} special case.)
@end itemize

@noindent
This table is correct for all functions but the @code{set@dots{}ent}
and @code{end@dots{}ent} functions.


@node Extending NSS,  , NSS Module Internals, Name Service Switch
@section Extending NSS

One of the advantages of NSS mentioned above is that it can be extended
quite easily.  There are two ways in which the extension can happen:
adding another database or adding another service.  The former is
normally done only by the C library developers.  It is
here only important to remember that adding another database is
independent from adding another service because a service need not
support all databases or lookup functions.

A designer/implementer of a new service is therefore free to choose the
databases s/he is interested in and leave the rest for later (or
completely aside).

@menu
* Adding another Service to NSS::  What is to do to add a new service.
* NSS Module Function Internals::  Guidelines for writing new NSS
                                        service functions.
@end menu

@node Adding another Service to NSS, NSS Module Function Internals, Extending NSS, Extending NSS
@subsection Adding another Service to NSS

The sources for a new service need not (and should not) be part of @theglibc{}
itself.  The developer retains complete control over the
sources and its development.  The links between the C library and the
new service module consists solely of the interface functions.

Each module is designed following a specific interface specification.
For now the version is 2 (the interface in version 1 was not adequate)
and this manifests in the version number of the shared library object of
the NSS modules: they have the extension @code{.2}.  If the interface
changes again in an incompatible way, this number will be increased.
Modules using the old interface will still be usable.

Developers of a new service will have to make sure that their module is
created using the correct interface number.  This means the file itself
must have the correct name and on ELF systems the @dfn{soname} (Shared
Object Name) must also have this number.  Building a module from a bunch
of object files on an ELF system using GNU CC could be done like this:

@smallexample
gcc -shared -o libnss_NAME.so.2 -Wl,-soname,libnss_NAME.so.2 OBJECTS
@end smallexample

@noindent
@ref{Link Options, Options for Linking, , gcc, GNU CC}, to learn
more about this command line.

To use the new module the library must be able to find it.  This can be
achieved by using options for the dynamic linker so that it will search
the directory where the binary is placed.  For an ELF system this could be
done by adding the wanted directory to the value of
@code{LD_LIBRARY_PATH}.

But this is not always possible since some programs (those which run
under IDs which do not belong to the user) ignore this variable.
Therefore the stable version of the module should be placed into a
directory which is searched by the dynamic linker.  Normally this should
be the directory @file{$prefix/lib}, where @file{$prefix} corresponds to
the value given to configure using the @code{--prefix} option.  But be
careful: this should only be done if it is clear the module does not
cause any harm.  System administrators should be careful.


@node NSS Module Function Internals,  , Adding another Service to NSS, Extending NSS
@subsection Internals of the NSS Module Functions

Until now we only provided the syntactic interface for the functions in
the NSS module.  In fact there is not much more we can say since the
implementation obviously is different for each function.  But a few
general rules must be followed by all functions.

In fact there are four kinds of different functions which may appear in
the interface.  All derive from the traditional ones for system databases.
@var{db} in the following table is normally an abbreviation for the
database (e.g., it is @code{pw} for the user database).

@table @code
@item enum nss_status _nss_@var{database}_set@var{db}ent (void)
This function prepares the service for following operations.  For a
simple file based lookup this means files could be opened, for other
services this function simply is a noop.

One special case for this function is that it takes an additional
argument for some @var{database}s (i.e., the interface is
@code{int set@var{db}ent (int)}).  @ref{Host Names}, which describes the
@code{sethostent} function.

The return value should be @var{NSS_STATUS_SUCCESS} or according to the
table above in case of an error (@pxref{NSS Modules Interface}).

@item enum nss_status _nss_@var{database}_end@var{db}ent (void)
This function simply closes all files which are still open or removes
buffer caches.  If there are no files or buffers to remove this is again
a simple noop.

There normally is no return value other than @var{NSS_STATUS_SUCCESS}.

@item enum nss_status _nss_@var{database}_get@var{db}ent_r (@var{STRUCTURE} *result, char *buffer, size_t buflen, int *errnop)
Since this function will be called several times in a row to retrieve
one entry after the other it must keep some kind of state.  But this
also means the functions are not really reentrant.  They are reentrant
only in that simultaneous calls to this function will not try to
write the retrieved data in the same place (as it would be the case for
the non-reentrant functions); instead, it writes to the structure
pointed to by the @var{result} parameter.  But the calls share a common
state and in the case of a file access this means they return neighboring
entries in the file.

The buffer of length @var{buflen} pointed to by @var{buffer} can be used
for storing some additional data for the result.  It is @emph{not}
guaranteed that the same buffer will be passed for the next call of this
function.  Therefore one must not misuse this buffer to save some state
information from one call to another.

Before the function returns with a failure code, the implementation
should store the value of the local @var{errno} variable in the variable
pointed to be @var{errnop}.  This is important to guarantee the module
working in statically linked programs.  The stored value must not be
zero.

As explained above this function could also have an additional last
argument.  This depends on the database used; it happens only for
@code{host} and @code{networks}.

The function shall return @code{NSS_STATUS_SUCCESS} as long as there are
more entries.  When the last entry was read it should return
@code{NSS_STATUS_NOTFOUND}.  When the buffer given as an argument is too
small for the data to be returned @code{NSS_STATUS_TRYAGAIN} should be
returned.  When the service was not formerly initialized by a call to
@code{_nss_@var{DATABASE}_set@var{db}ent} all return values allowed for
this function can also be returned here.

@item enum nss_status _nss_@var{DATABASE}_get@var{db}by@var{XX}_r (@var{PARAMS}, @var{STRUCTURE} *result, char *buffer, size_t buflen, int *errnop)
This function shall return the entry from the database which is
addressed by the @var{PARAMS}.  The type and number of these arguments
vary.  It must be individually determined by looking to the user-level
interface functions.  All arguments given to the non-reentrant version
are here described by @var{PARAMS}.

The result must be stored in the structure pointed to by @var{result}.
If there are additional data to return (say strings, where the
@var{result} structure only contains pointers) the function must use the
@var{buffer} of length @var{buflen}.  There must not be any references
to non-constant global data.

The implementation of this function should honor the @var{stayopen}
flag set by the @code{set@var{DB}ent} function whenever this makes sense.

Before the function returns, the implementation should store the value of
the local @var{errno} variable in the variable pointed to by
@var{errnop}.  This is important to guarantee the module works in
statically linked programs.

Again, this function takes an additional last argument for the
@code{host} and @code{networks} database.

The return value should as always follow the rules given above
(@pxref{NSS Modules Interface}).

@end table