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2004/01/01 NetInfo


© January 2004 Tony Lawrence

Netinfo is gone as of Leopard (October 2007). Good riddance.

Mac OS X, though Unix based, departs from Unix flat files in a number of areas and uses a database instead. In some cases, the system respects the information in the flat files, and in others it doesn't (the ordinary files are there in case you boot up single user mode).

This schizophrenic personality can be a little confusing, apparently even to the developers. For example, even in Panther, /etc/hosts contains this note:

# Host Database
# 
# Note that this file is consulted when the system is running in single-user
# mode.  At other times this information is handled by lookupd.  By default,
# lookupd gets information from NetInfo, so this file will not be consulted
# unless you have changed lookupd's configuration.
 

It's not true. Out of the box, you can put addresses and names in /etc/hosts and use them. But /etc/passwd isn't handled that way, and in fact most things that you would expect to use text files for need to be done with NetInfo.

I have very mixed feelings about the wisdom of this.


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Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

Take Control of Apple Mail, Third Edition

Take Control of iCloud

Take Control of iCloud, Fifth Edition

Take Control of the Mac Command Line with Terminal, Second Edition

Take Control of Upgrading to El Capitan




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