You can have NIS set up in 30 minutes when you read the howto. NIS is lightweight, and by no means overkill.
What is important to remember:
- you have to edit /etc/passwd and /etc/group on "Desktop" to indicate that user names and passwds are to be retrieved from NIS.
- After adding user names on Server you have to run Make in the YP directory so the changes are reflected in NIS. I found that this is not done adequately by the scripts after using adduser, and the documentation does not emphasize on this.
And my NIS server is still Sarge, maybe matter has improved in Lenny since.
NFS is standard for file sharing, and very easy as well. Just carefully study the man page for 'exports'.