Context and Naming

The context of an object is its position in the tree. It is nearly equivalent to a DNS domain.

You can see in the following figure that User Bob is in Organizational Unit Accounts, which is in Organizational Unit Finance, which is in Organization YourCo.

Figure 9
Sample eDirectory Container

Sometimes, however, you need to express the context of an object in an eDirectory utility. For example, you could be setting up Bob's workstation and need to supply a name context, as shown in Figure 10.

Figure 10
Novell Client NDS Page

The context is specified as a list of containers separated by periods, between the object in question and the top of the Tree. In the example above, User object Bob is in the container Accounts, which is in the container Finance, which is in the container YourCo.

Distinguished Name

The distinguished name of an object is its object name with the context appended. For example, the complete name of User object Bob is Bob.Accounts.Finance.YourCo. The maximum number of characters in a distinguished name is limited to 256 characters of any language.

Typeful Name

Sometimes typeful names are displayed in eDirectory utilities. Typeful names include the object type abbreviations listed in the following table:

Object Class Type Abbreviation

All leaf object classes

Common Name





Organizational Unit

Organizational Unit






Locality or State/Province

L or S

In creating a typeful name, eDirectory uses the type abbreviation, an equal sign, and the object's name. For instance, Bob's partial typeful name is CN=Bob. Bob's complete typeful name is CN=Bob.OU=Accounts.OU=Finance.O=YourCo. You can use typeful names interchangeably with typeless names in eDirectory utilities.

Name Resolution

The process eDirectory uses to find an object's location in the directory tree is called name resolution. When you use object names in eDirectory utilities, eDirectory resolves the names relative to either the current context or the top of the tree.

Current Workstation Context

Workstations have a context set when the networking software runs. This context relatively identifies the location of the workstation in the network. For example, Bob's workstation would be set to the current context as follows:


Current context is a key to understanding the use of leading periods, relative naming, and trailing periods, discussed in the following sections.

Leading Period

Use a leading period to resolve the name from the top of the tree, no matter where the current context is set. In the example below, the leading period tells the CX (Change Context) utility to resolve the name relative to the top of the tree.

CX .Finance.YourCo

eDirectory interprets the command as "Change the context to the Finance container, which is in the YourCo container, resolved from the top of the tree."

Relative Naming

Relative naming means that names are resolved relative to the workstation's current context, rather than from the top of the tree. Relative naming never involves a leading period, since a leading period indicates resolution from the top of the tree.

Suppose a workstation's current context is set to Finance. (See Figure 11.)

Figure 11
Sample eDirectory Container

The relative object name of Bob is


eDirectory interprets the name as "Bob, which is in Accounts, resolved from the current context, which is Finance."

Trailing Periods

Trailing periods can be used only in relative naming. Therefore, you can't use both a leading period and a trailing period. A trailing period changes the container that eDirectory resolves the name from.

Each trailing period changes the resolution point one container toward the top of the tree. For example, suppose you want to change your workstation's current context from Timmins to Allentown in the example in Figure 12.

Figure 12
Sample eDirectory Container

The proper CX command uses relative naming with trailing periods:

CX Allentown.East..

eDirectory interprets the command as "Change the context to Allentown, which is in East, resolved from two containers up the tree from the current context."

Similarly, if Bob is in the Allentown container and your workstation's current context is Timmins, then Bob's relative name would be


Context and Naming on UNIX

When UNIX user accounts are migrated to eDirectory, the eDirectory context is not used to name users. The context of the user is determined by the UAM component.