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           This manual is intended to offer a quick introduction to Linux-PAM. For
           more information the reader is directed to the Linux-PAM system
           administrators? guide.
           Linux-PAM is a system of libraries that handle the authentication tasks
           of applications (services) on the system. The library provides a stable
           general interface (Application Programming Interface - API) that
           privilege granting programs (such as login(1) and su(1)) defer to to
           perform standard authentication tasks.
           The principal feature of the PAM approach is that the nature of the
           authentication is dynamically configurable. In other words, the system
           administrator is free to choose how individual service-providing
           applications will authenticate users. This dynamic configuration is set
           by the contents of the single Linux-PAM configuration file
           /etc/pam.conf. Alternatively, the configuration can be set by
           individual configuration files located in the /etc/pam.d/ directory.
           The presence of this directory will cause Linux-PAM to ignore
           From the point of view of the system administrator, for whom this
           manual is provided, it is not of primary importance to understand the
           internal behavior of the Linux-PAM library. The important point to
           recognize is that the configuration file(s) define the connection
           between applications (services) and the pluggable authentication
           modules (PAMs) that perform the actual authentication tasks.
           Linux-PAM separates the tasks of authentication into four independent
           management groups: account management; authentication management;
           password management; and session management. (We highlight the
           abbreviations used for these groups in the configuration file.)
           Simply put, these groups take care of different aspects of a typical
           user?s request for a restricted service:
           account - provide account verification types of service: has the user?s
           password expired?; is this user permitted access to the requested
           authentication - authenticate a user and set up user credentials.
           Typically this is via some challenge-response request that the user
           must satisfy: if you are who you claim to be please enter your
           password. Not all authentications are of this type, there exist
           hardware based authentication schemes (such as the use of smart-cards
           and biometric devices), with suitable modules, these may be substituted
           seamlessly for more standard approaches to authentication - such is the
           flexibility of Linux-PAM.
           password - this group?s responsibility is the task of updating
           authentication mechanisms. Typically, such services are strongly
               the configuration file
               the Linux-PAM configuration directory. Generally, if this directory
               is present, the /etc/pam.conf file is ignored.


           Typically errors generated by the Linux-PAM system of libraries, will
           be written to syslog(3).


           DCE-RFC 86.0, October 1995. Contains additional features, but remains
           backwardly compatible with this RFC.


           pam(3), pam_authenticate(3), pam_sm_setcred(3), pam_strerror(3), PAM(8)

    Linux-PAM Manual 03/02/2009 PAM(8)


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