Leopard Under the Hood: Netinfo is Gone

While most users are oohing and ahhing over the cool new features in Leopard like Time Machine and the 3-D mirrored Dock, Apple has also been making quiet changes under the hood, starting in Mac OS X 10.2, to finally eliminate Netinfo, the system configuration database, according to John Welch at Macworld on Friday.

Netinfo was first used in the NeXTStep system and is a system configuration database that is similar to Sunis NIS, LDAP, and Microsoftis Active directory. Now the end has come.

"When I say iend," I mean it in the most iend-ishi sense. In Mac OS X 10.5, Netinfo is gone. Not ideprecated,i not ihidden away for only the most advanced users.i It?s gone. Deleted. It does not exist. No more Netinfo database, no more Netinfo Utilities such as nicl, no more Netinfo Manager. The entire structure for managing local users, groups, and other such things has been completely replaced by local Directory Services, and the Netinfo Database is now a series of XML files living in /var/db/dslocal/" Mr. Welch, a sysadmin for Kansas City Life wrote.

Apple has been preparing for this change ever since Jaguar. The answer to why it was in there in the first place, TMO notes, probably rests with the idea that when shipping a brand new OS, one fixes the essentials and leaves alone things that work. Netinfo worked.

In time, however, Netinfo becamse a step child as the entire industry has moved to LDAP and Active Directory. While it doesnit mean much to the average user, it means a lot to Macintosh IT managers and sysadmins.

"The removal of Netinfo from Mac OS X is a major change from both the operational and historical perspectives," Mr. Welch concluded. "But in end, I think it?s one that was long in coming, and it will make Mac OS X much nicer to deal with from the administrator point of view -- something that will aid Apple as it continues to establish a greater presence in the business world."