name service

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A service provided by a name server in a distributed system. In such a system there are a large number of shared resources: computers, files, programs, and databases. Each of these has a unique address: for example, a computer on a TCP-IP network is identified by its IP address. Usually the addresses used to identify a resource are difficult to remember. For example, addresses expressed in the dotted quad notation used for identifying computers on the Internet consist of four integers. A name service stores easily remembered details of the resources in a distributed system. Each resource entry consists of a symbolic name and the actual address of the resource. When a user is required to identify a resource by the program he or she is interacting with, they use the symbolic name; the program then consults a name service to find out its location before carrying out any processing using that resource. There is a second reason for name services: resources in a distributed system have a tendency to move around the system. For example, a frequently used file might be moved to a server which is optimized for file access. A name service means that the many users of such a resource do not need to be told of the change in address: only the name server that implements the service needs to be informed of it. The most famous name service is the Internet Domain Name Service found on the Internet; this maps domain names into Internet addresses.

Subjects: Computing.

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