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If someone asks that PAM is a user authentication method?

Then can we say yes? Or no?

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PAM = Pluggable authentication module? – Braiam Jun 17 '14 at 19:11
Have you done any research on PAM? It's not a simple subject, and the question can be interpreted a number of ways. – Patrick Jun 17 '14 at 19:11
No. A system is not a method. – Nils Jun 17 '14 at 19:55
"A system is not a method" sounds oxymoronic to me, considering that systematic and methodical are near synonyms. The answer here depends on context. IMO it is probably yes, but if the context is "I'm playing semantic games with someone", then it is either yes or no, but either way you will be wrong ;) – goldilocks Jun 17 '14 at 20:07
@goldilocks - just for fun, let's assume we are playing [a] semantic game. To that end I'll play dictionary.com's 4th definition of system: a coordinated body of methods or a scheme or plan of procedure – mikeserv Jun 17 '14 at 21:44
up vote 9 down vote accepted


PAM is a framework for authentication using different pam modules. The benefit to this is that application developers do not have to write the authentication logic themselves; e.g. it provides standards: from man 7 pam: Linux-PAM is a system of libraries that handle the authentication tasks of applications (services) on the system.

PAM does provide user authentication, but it also provides other things such as system limits (pam_limits), motd (pam_motd), shell validation (pam_shell), LDAP authentication (pam_ldap), MySQL authentication (pam_mysql), etc.

You can see most of the functionality of pam by reading the system admins guide.

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If PAM "does provide [a means or method of] user authentication", then how is the answer to the question "No"? This is like saying that a highway is not a method of transportation because it just provides a framework so that vehicles can do it for themselves. Never-the-less, a decent answer in terms of information. – goldilocks Jun 17 '14 at 20:11
It depends on how the question is interpreted. OP implies that is all that pam does. I said no because PAM itself is not an authentication method; it has modules that provide that functionality. Without those modules PAM by itself doesn't function. – jersten Jun 17 '14 at 21:03
At which PAM is not an authentication method; it's a framework to provide those methods. You don't "configure" PAM for authentication, you configure and enable modules that provide it. You can have those that provide authentication without PAM, but those modules would not work without PAM and authentication itself would not work without those modules; so no PAM does not provide authentication. It's like saying "Does Firefox Addons provide adblocking?" No, the addon framework provides a means to load an extension that does provide it. – jersten Jun 17 '14 at 21:19
Hmm. Very well put. I retract my comment and will delete it. Thank you. I will not however retract the upvote I gave this post before even making it. – mikeserv Jun 17 '14 at 21:27

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