Subject: Re: default passwd.conf file
To: Andrew Brown <>
From: Steven M. Bellovin <>
List: tech-security
Date: 04/14/2002 10:11:41
In message <>, Andrew Brown writes:
>>> --------------------------------------------------
>>> default:
>>>         localcipher = md5
>>>         ypcipher = old
>>> --------------------------------------------------
>>Incidentally, why isn't this in login.conf instead? 
>>Is there some reason to have NetBSD's login.conf be different
>>from other login.conf implementations for just how passwords
>>are stored?

I've been asking that for a *long* time.  I haven't yet seen a 
satisfactory answer, either.
>>Like, what else is going to go in passwd.conf? Is it really worth
>>it to have a three line config file?
>sure, it's not much, but then again, resolv.conf ain't much and could
>probably be folded into nsswitch.conf.  not that i'm advocating such a

Well, perhaps, though resolv.conf has been there Forever.  (I dug out 
my 4.3bsd Programmer's Reference Manual, from 1986 -- it's in there.)
>remember, passwords don't always have to do with logging in.  su also
>uses passwords.  this file mainly, off the top of my head, affects the
>behavior of the passwd binary.

Right, and if we were starting from scratch I might agree.  Here, 
there's running code on other BSDs that had this feature well before 
NetBSD, and I don't see the architectural difference as being important 
enough to warrant the change.  Also (and as noted by others) there are 
other things in NetBSD's login.conf that only affect passwd, such as 
passwordtime and minpasswordlen.

		--Steve Bellovin,
		Full text of "Firewalls" book now at