/etc files are the traditional Unix way of maintaining information about hosts, users, passwords, groups, and automount maps, to name just a few. These files are text files located on each individual system that can be edited using the vi editor or the text editor within CDE.
Each file needs to be individually maintained and on a large network, this can be a difficult task. As IP addresses change, and users' accounts are added and deleted, it can become difficult to maintain all these files and keep them in sync between each system. On a large changing network, the traditional approach to maintaining this information had to change; therefore, the following name services were introduced.