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Updated question:

Assuming the setup of a "minimal" web server (apache2, php) - e.g. with the least features possible - I would like to know if the nscd is truly required for optimal functioning of the machine.

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updated to clarify "minimal". downvoter can you please justify. – Wadih M. Nov 18 '11 at 5:37
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I don't know what kind of "minimal server" you are intending to build, so I can't give you a good answer.
I can, however, offer you these guidelines.

The name service caching daemon is a caching daemon. The data it caches is available by other means.

How useful a cache is depends on:

  • how often you query what it holds
  • how often what it holds is out of date (and how much that matters)
  • how often you cannot connect to the main data-source (and how much that matters)
  • how much more efficient (memory, time, load) it is to access the cache than the primary data-source
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