In this article, we will walk through the configuration of PAM authentication using the pam authentication plugin and user and group mapping with the pam_user_map PAM module. The primary authentication will be handled by the pam_unix PAM module, which performs standard Unix password authentication.

Hypothetical Requirements

In this walkthrough, we are going to assume the following hypothetical requirements:

  • The Unix user foo should be mapped to the MariaDB user bar. (foo: bar)
  • Any Unix user in the Unix group dba should be mapped to the MariaDB user dba. (@dba: dba)

Creating Our Unix Users and Groups

Let's go ahead and create the Unix users and groups that we are using for this hypothetical scenario.

First, let's create the the foo user and a couple users to go into the dba group. Note that each of these users needs a password.

sudo useradd foo
sudo passwd foo
sudo useradd alice
sudo passwd alice
sudo useradd bob
sudo passwd bob

And then let's create our dba group and add our two users to it:

sudo groupadd dba
sudo usermod -a -G dba alice 
sudo usermod -a -G dba bob 

We also need to create Unix users with the same name as the bar and dba MariaDB users. See here to read more about why. No one will be logging in as these users, so they do not need passwords.

sudo useradd bar
sudo useradd dba -g dba

Installing the pam_user_map PAM Module

Next, let's install the pam_user_map PAM module.

Before the module can be compiled from source, we may need to install some dependencies.

On RHEL, CentOS, and other similar Linux distributions that use RPM packages, we need to install gcc and pam-devel:

sudo yum install gcc pam-devel

On Debian, Ubuntu, and other similar Linux distributions that use DEB packages, we need to install gcc and libpam0g-dev:

sudo apt-get install gcc libpam0g-dev

And then we can build and install the library with the following:

wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/MariaDB/server/10.4/plugin/auth_pam/mapper/pam_user_map.c 
gcc pam_user_map.c -shared -lpam -fPIC -o pam_user_map.so 
sudo install --mode=0755 pam_user_map.so /lib64/security/ 

Configuring the pam_user_map PAM Module

Next, let's configure the pam_user_map PAM module based on our hypothetical requirements.

The configuration file for the pam_user_map PAM module is /etc/security/user_map.conf. Based on our hypothetical requirements, ours would look like:

foo: bar
@dba:dba

Installing the PAM Authentication Plugin

Next, let's install the pam authentication plugin.

Log into the MariaDB Server and execute the following:

INSTALL SONAME 'auth_pam';

Configuring the PAM Service

Next, let's configure the PAM service. We will call our service mariadb, so our PAM service configuration file will be located at /etc/pam.d/mariadb on most systems.

Since we are only doing Unix authentication with the pam_unix PAM module and group mapping with the pam_user_map PAM module, our configuration file would look like this:

auth required pam_unix.so audit
auth required pam_user_map.so
account required pam_unix.so audit

Configuring the pam_unix PAM Module

The pam_unix PAM module adds some additional configuration steps on a lot of systems. We basically have to give the user that runs mysqld access to /etc/shadow.

If the mysql user is running mysqld, then we can do that by executing the following:

sudo groupadd shadow
sudo usermod -a -G shadow mysql
sudo chown root:shadow /etc/shadow
sudo chmod g+r /etc/shadow

The server needs to be restarted for this change to take affect.

Configuring SELinux

If SELinux is enabled on a system, then we also have to disable it. This is usually done by modifying /etc/selinux/config and then rebooting.

Creating MariaDB Users

Next, let's create the MariaDB users. Remember that our PAM service is called mariadb.

First, let's create the MariaDB user for the user mapping: foo: bar

That means that we need to create a bar user:

CREATE USER 'bar'@'%' IDENTIFIED BY 'strongpassword';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON *.* TO 'bar'@'%' ;

And then let's create the MariaDB user for the group mapping: @dba: dba

That means that we need to create a dba user:

CREATE USER 'dba'@'%' IDENTIFIED BY 'strongpassword';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON *.* TO 'dba'@'%' ;

And then to allow for the user and group mapping, we need to create an anonymous user that authenticates with the pam authentication plugin that is also able to PROXY as the bar and dba users. Before we can create the proxy user, we might need to clean up some defaults:

DELETE FROM mysql.db WHERE User='' AND Host='%';
FLUSH PRIVILEGES;

And then let's create the anonymous proxy user:

CREATE USER ''@'%' IDENTIFIED VIA pam USING 'mariadb';
GRANT PROXY ON 'bar'@'%' TO ''@'%';
GRANT PROXY ON 'dba'@'%' TO ''@'%';

Testing our Configuration

Next, let's test out our configuration by verifying that mapping is occurring. We can verify this by logging in as each of our users and comparing the return value of USER(), which is the original user name and the return value of CURRENT_USER(), which is the authenticated user name.

First, let's test out our foo user:

$ mysql -u foo -h 172.30.0.198
[mariadb] Password:
Welcome to the MariaDB monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MariaDB connection id is 22
Server version: 10.3.10-MariaDB MariaDB Server

Copyright (c) 2000, 2018, Oracle, MariaDB Corporation Ab and others.

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.

MariaDB [(none)]> SELECT USER(), CURRENT_USER();
+------------------------------------------------+----------------+
| USER()                                         | CURRENT_USER() |
+------------------------------------------------+----------------+
| foo@ip-172-30-0-198.us-west-2.compute.internal | bar@%          |
+------------------------------------------------+----------------+
1 row in set (0.000 sec)

We can verify that our foo Unix user was properly mapped to the bar MariaDB user by looking at the return value of CURRENT_USER().

Then let's test out our alice user in the dba group:

$ mysql -u alice -h 172.30.0.198
[mariadb] Password:
Welcome to the MariaDB monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MariaDB connection id is 19
Server version: 10.3.10-MariaDB MariaDB Server

Copyright (c) 2000, 2018, Oracle, MariaDB Corporation Ab and others.

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.

MariaDB [(none)]> SELECT USER(), CURRENT_USER();
+--------------------------------------------------+----------------+
| USER()                                           | CURRENT_USER() |
+--------------------------------------------------+----------------+
| alice@ip-172-30-0-198.us-west-2.compute.internal | dba@%          |
+--------------------------------------------------+----------------+
1 row in set (0.000 sec)

And then let's test out our bob user in the dba group:

$ mysql -u bob -h 172.30.0.198
[mariadb] Password:
Welcome to the MariaDB monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MariaDB connection id is 20
Server version: 10.3.10-MariaDB MariaDB Server

Copyright (c) 2000, 2018, Oracle, MariaDB Corporation Ab and others.

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.

MariaDB [(none)]> SELECT USER(), CURRENT_USER();
+------------------------------------------------+----------------+
| USER()                                         | CURRENT_USER() |
+------------------------------------------------+----------------+
| bob@ip-172-30-0-198.us-west-2.compute.internal | dba@%          |
+------------------------------------------------+----------------+
1 row in set (0.000 sec)

We can verify that our alice and bob Unix users in the dba Unix group were properly mapped to the dba MariaDB user by looking at the return values of CURRENT_USER().

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