FTP helps you retrieve important programs. The Web helps you locate important documents. whois helps you locate important people. One of the most important pieces of information in a network is who is in charge at the other end. In Chapter 11, we pointed out that it is important to know who is responsible for the other end of the link when troubleshooting a network problem. whois is a tool that helps you find this out.
whois obtains the requested information from the Internet white pages. The white pages is a database of information about responsible people that is maintained by the InterNIC. When you request an official network number or domain name, you are asked to provide your NIC handle, which is the index of your personal record in the white pages database. If you don’t have a handle, the InterNIC assigns you one and automatically registers you in the white pages. Because of this, everyone who is responsible for an official network or domain has an entry in the white pages, and that entry can be retrieved by anyone who needs to contact them.
NT systems do not have a local whois command. To use whois, telnet to rs.internic.net and enter whois at the command-line prompt. You’ll then be prompted with Whois:. At this prompt enter whatever you wish to search for.
In the following example, we search for an entry for Craig Hunt. An individual’s name is entered in the white pages as: last-name, first-name initial. So we ask to search for Hunt, Craig.
[vt100] InterNIC ...