When a PAM aware privilege granting application is started, it activates its attachment to the PAM-API. This activation performs a number of tasks, the most important being the reading of the configuration file(s): /etc/pam.conf. Alternatively, this may be the contents of the /etc/pam.d/ directory. The presence of this directory will cause Linux-PAM to ignore /etc/pam.conf.
These files list the PAMs that will do the authentication tasks required by this service, and the appropriate behavior of the PAM-API in the event that individual PAMs fail.
The syntax of the /etc/pam.conf configuration file is as follows. The file is made up of a list of rules, each rule is typically placed on a single line, but may be extended with an escaped end of line: `\<LF>'. Comments are preceded with `#' marks and extend to the next end of line.
The format of each rule is a space separated collection of tokens, the first three being case-insensitive:
service type control module-path module-arguments
The syntax of files contained in the /etc/pam.d/ directory, are identical except for the absence of any service field. In this case, the service is the name of the file in the /etc/pam.d/ directory. This filename must be in lower case.
An important feature of PAM, is that a number of rules may be stacked to combine the services of a number of PAMs for a given authentication task.
The service is typically the familiar name of the corresponding application: login and su are good examples. The service-name, other, is reserved for giving default rules. Only lines that mention the current service (or in the absence of such, the other entries) will be associated with the given service-application.
The type is the management group that the rule corresponds to. It is used to specify which of the management groups the subsequent module is to be associated with. Valid entries are:
The third field, control, indicates the behavior of the PAM-API should the module fail to succeed in its authentication task. There are two types of syntax for this control field: the simple one has a single simple keyword; the more complicated one involves a square-bracketed selection of value=action pairs.
For the simple (historical) syntax valid control values are:
For the more complicated syntax valid control values have the following form:
[value1=action1 value2=action2 ...]
Where valueN corresponds to the return code from the function invoked in the module for which the line is defined. It is selected from one of these: success, open_err, symbol_err, service_err, system_err, buf_err, perm_denied, auth_err, cred_insufficient, authinfo_unavail, user_unknown, maxtries, new_authtok_reqd, acct_expired, session_err, cred_unavail, cred_expired, cred_err, no_module_data, conv_err, authtok_err, authtok_recover_err, authtok_lock_busy, authtok_disable_aging, try_again, ignore, abort, authtok_expired, module_unknown, bad_item, conv_again, incomplete, and default.
The last of these, default, implies 'all valueN's not mentioned explicitly. Note, the full list of PAM errors is available in /usr/include/security/_pam_types.h. The actionN can be: an unsigned integer, n, signifying an action of 'jump over the next n modules in the stack'; or take one of the following forms:
Each of the four keywords: required; requisite; sufficient; and optional, have an equivalent expression in terms of the [...] syntax. They are as follows:
module-path is either the full filename of the PAM to be used by the application (it begins with a '/'), or a relative pathname from the default module location: /lib/security/ or /lib64/security/, depending on the architecture.
module-arguments are a space separated list of tokens that can be used to modify the specific behavior of the given PAM. Such arguments will be documented for each individual module. Note, if you wish to include spaces in an argument, you should surround that argument with square brackets.
squid auth required pam_mysql.so user=passwd_query passwd=mada \ db=eminence [query=select user_name from internet_service \ where user_name='%u' and password=PASSWORD('%p') and \ service='web_proxy']
When using this convention, you can include `[' characters inside the string, and if you wish to include a `]' character inside the string that will survive the argument parsing, you should use `\]'. In other words:
[..[..\]..] --> ..[..]..
Any line in (one of) the configuration file(s), that is not formatted correctly, will generally tend (erring on the side of caution) to make the authentication process fail. A corresponding error is written to the system log files with a call to syslog(3).
More flexible than the single configuration file is it to configure libpam via the contents of the /etc/pam.d/ directory. In this case the directory is filled with files each of which has a filename equal to a service-name (in lower-case): it is the personal configuration file for the named service.
The syntax of each file in /etc/pam.d/ is similar to that of the /etc/pam.conf file and is made up of lines of the following form:
type control module-path module-arguments
The only difference being that the service-name is not present. The service-name is of course the name of the given configuration file. For example, /etc/pam.d/login contains the configuration for the login service.
pam(3), PAM(8), pam_start(3)