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Re: sufficient account management checking for locally defined users

On Tue, May 14, 2002 at 11:23:15AM -0400, Sam Hartman wrote:
> But wait, there's pam_setcred, that evil hack that sort of snuck in
> for some reason--perhaps because someone had heard of Kerberos and
> didn't quite understand it, or perhaps because someone wanted to write
> pam_group.  Now, we have pam_group (I think that's the right module),
> which will add you to certain groups under certain conditions;
> pam_krb5, which sets up network credentials, and many other modules.

I think they may also have been thinking of NIS+. Evil hack indeed.

> Long term, I think having PAM evolve to handle credentials
> establishment would be a net good; it would certainly help some of my
> long-term projects and would better mirror some of the better parts of
> the Windows security model.  (I don't think emulating Windows for the
> sake of emulating Windows is good, but in this area I think they have
> a better architecture than we currently do.)

Here I must repeat my mantra: it is worth following Windows in this
instance, like so:

 - processes should have an array of creds, much like they have array of
   open files

 - each thread (or cloned process) should have a "current cred_t" which
   is used for permissions checking by all system calls / file systems

 - creds should be an opaque-ish type like the BSD/Solaris cred_t,
   but extensible and with each cred_t containing at most one of each
   sub-cred type.

   Think of cred types such as:

    - POSIX (e.g., UID/GID, with effective and real for compatibility)
    - capabilities
    - Kerberos (as in a ccache name / open file, but not the actual tickets)
    - SIDs (for Windows compatibility and because they are better than UIDs)
    - etc...

 - this would enable the emulation of the Windows user impersonation
   system calls, which are much better and simpler to use that set*id()

 - this would allow multi-threaded processes that impersonate client users

 - SIDs really are superior to UIDs/GIDs - to begin with SIDs support a
   hierarchical namespace, whereas UID/GIDs can only implement a flat

> Of course when you take things to their logical conclusion, PAM would
> be responsible both for the setuid call *and* initgroups; I think
> doing one without the other would be wrong.

Yes, of course, though setuid() would be replaced with an

> Getting to that ideal world would be very difficult; I think the PAM
> upstream, libc upstream and application writers would all disagree
> with us.  We'd also need to think carefully about the API and
> potentially change things and better define things such that PAM could
> actually be responsible for user credential management.  But hey if
> anyone ever wants to fight that battle, I'm certainly interested in
> helping.

And I'm suggesting major surgery on the kernel-level process credentials
concept... Eerybody runs away from this.

> --Sam


(awaiting flames) Nico
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