Subject: Re: PAM
To: Bill Studenmund <>
From: Greywolf <>
List: current-users
Date: 08/28/2002 12:59:10
On Wed, 28 Aug 2002, Bill Studenmund wrote:

# To be able to do PAM-style auth, we need to load auth modules into
# binaries. To do some of the auth methods we want to do, we have to load
# auth modules into binaries (like AFS auth, where you deal with tokens in
# your process space). The reason we think it would be easy to start with
# PAM is, well, because what PAM pruports to do is pretty much what we want.

Pardon me if this doesn't seem particularly well thought-out on my part
(probably because it isn't), but:

Why can there not be a message-pass going on between the binary and
a run-alone authenticator?

(I think I already know the answer to this, but I needed to ask anyway.)

["You can't do that because 1) there's no guarantee that the run-alone
authenticator will be running when you're going into single-user mode
demanding access at the console by way of a method that init's not
prepared to handle and 2) because if the binary itself doesn't know the
ABI, it can't pass things out to the program that it's expecting -- for
that to work, you need to recompile the binary in question, or a library
that it references, so we're back to where we are now; and 3) implementing
said authenticator, by the arguments you've already made in the parent
thread regarding adding complexity, represents YAPOF."

please correct me if I'm wrong. ]

# This doesn't mean we plan on repeating the mistakes we think other PAM
# implementations make.

Is there a way that we could sanely implement, say, an order of things,
with a default fallback so that if PAM pukes -- as it has been reknowned
to do on occasion -- we're not hosed trying to get PAM to pick up the

Will there be a way that we can specify that we don't even want to
bother with PAM at all, and just use BSD-Auth?

# > It seems pretty clear that all these arguments for PAM are based on
# > misinformation and false assumptions.
# Is it that, or that you heard some of what folks wanted to do and
# projected thoughts onto that that they didn't say?

I'm not arguing in favour of either party here, but you must admit that
when people leave things out of the picture, it does leave a lot of room
for concern, and that's only an observation from experience, both as
the person who's had to deal with missing information, and as someone
who has intentionally left out information for just such an emergency.

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