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2.2. Using authconfig

The authconfig tool can help configure what kind of data store to use for user credentials, such as LDAP. On Red Hat Enterprise Linux, authconfig has both GUI and command-line options to configure any user data stores. The authconfig tool can configure the system to use specific services — SSSD, LDAP, NIS, or Winbind — for its user database, along with using different forms of authentication mechanisms.


To configure Identity Management systems, Red Hat recommends using the ipa-client-install utility or the realmd system instead of authconfig. The authconfig utilities are limited and substantially less flexible. For more information, see Section 2.1, “Identity Management Tools for System Authentication”.
The following three authconfig utilities are available for configuring authentication settings:
  • authconfig-gtk provides a full graphical interface.
  • authconfig provides a command-line interface for manual configuration.
  • authconfig-tui provides a text-based UI. Note that this utility has been deprecated.
All of these configuration utilities must be run as root.

2.2.1. Tips for Using the authconfig CLI

The authconfig command-line tool updates all of the configuration files and services required for system authentication, according to the settings passed to the script. Along with providing even more identity and authentication configuration options than can be set through the UI, the authconfig tool can also be used to create backup and kickstart files.
For a complete list of authconfig options, check the help output and the man page.
There are some things to remember when running authconfig:
  • With every command, use either the --update or --test option. One of those options is required for the command to run successfully. Using --update writes the configuration changes. The --test option displays the changes but does not apply the changes to the configuration.
    If the --update option is not used, then the changes are not written to the system configuration files.
  • The command line can be used to update existing configuration as well as to set new configuration. Because of this, the command line does not enforce that required attributes are used with a given invocation (because the command may be updating otherwise complete settings).
    When editing the authentication configuration, be very careful that the configuration is complete and accurate. Changing the authentication settings to incomplete or wrong values can lock users out of the system. Use the --test option to confirm that the settings are proper before using the --update option to write them.
  • Each enable option has a corresponding disable option.

2.2.2. Installing the authconfig UI

The authconfig UI is not installed by default, but it can be useful for administrators to make quick changes to the authentication configuration.
To install the UI, install the authconfig-gtk package. This has dependencies on some common system packages, such as the authconfig command-line tool, Bash, and Python. Most of those are installed by default.
[root@server ~]# yum install authconfig-gtk
Loaded plugins: langpacks, product-id, subscription-manager
Resolving Dependencies
--> Running transaction check
---> Package authconfig-gtk.x86_64 0:6.2.8-8.el7 will be installed
--> Finished Dependency Resolution

Dependencies Resolved

 Package              Arch         Version            Repository           Size
 authconfig-gtk       x86_64       6.2.8-8.el7        RHEL-Server       105 k

Transaction Summary
Install  1 Package

... 8< ...

2.2.3. Launching the authconfig UI

  1. Open the terminal and log in as root.
  2. Run the system-config-authentication command.


Any changes take effect immediately when the authconfig UI is closed.
There are three configuration tabs in the Authentication dialog box:
  • Identity & Authentication, which configures the resource used as the identity store (the data repository where the user IDs and corresponding credentials are stored).
  • Advanced Options, which configures authentication methods other than passwords or certificates, like smart cards and fingerprint.
  • Password Options, which configures password authentication methods.
authconfig Window

Figure 2.1. authconfig Window

2.2.4. Testing Authentication Settings

It is critical that authentication is fully and properly configured. Otherwise all users (even root) could be locked out of the system, or some users blocked.
The --test option prints all of the authentication configuration for the system, for every possible identity and authentication mechanism. This shows both the settings for what is enabled and what areas are disabled.
The test option can be run by itself to show the full, current configuration or it can be used with an authconfig command to show how the configuration will be changed (without actually changing it). This can be very useful in verifying that the proposed authentication settings are complete and correct.
[root@server ~]# authconfig --test
caching is disabled
nss_files is always enabled
nss_compat is disabled
nss_db is disabled
nss_hesiod is disabled
 hesiod LHS = ""
 hesiod RHS = ""
nss_ldap is disabled
 LDAP+TLS is disabled
 LDAP server = ""
 LDAP base DN = ""
nss_nis is disabled
 NIS server = ""
 NIS domain = ""
nss_nisplus is disabled
nss_winbind is disabled
 SMB workgroup = "MYGROUP"
 SMB servers = ""
 SMB security = "user"
 SMB realm = ""
 Winbind template shell = "/bin/false"
 SMB idmap range = "16777216-33554431"
nss_sss is enabled by default
nss_wins is disabled
nss_mdns4_minimal is disabled
DNS preference over NSS or WINS is disabled
pam_unix is always enabled
 shadow passwords are enabled
 password hashing algorithm is sha512
pam_krb5 is disabled
 krb5 realm = "#"
 krb5 realm via dns is disabled
 krb5 kdc = ""
 krb5 kdc via dns is disabled
 krb5 admin server = ""
pam_ldap is disabled
 LDAP+TLS is disabled
 LDAP server = ""
 LDAP base DN = ""
 LDAP schema = "rfc2307"
pam_pkcs11 is disabled
 use only smartcard for login is disabled
 smartcard module = ""
 smartcard removal action = ""
pam_fprintd is disabled
pam_ecryptfs is disabled
pam_winbind is disabled
 SMB workgroup = "MYGROUP"
 SMB servers = ""
 SMB security = "user"
 SMB realm = ""
pam_sss is disabled by default
 credential caching in SSSD is enabled
 SSSD use instead of legacy services if possible is enabled
IPAv2 is disabled
IPAv2 domain was not joined
 IPAv2 server = ""
 IPAv2 realm = ""
 IPAv2 domain = ""
pam_pwquality is enabled (try_first_pass local_users_only retry=3 authtok_type=)
pam_passwdqc is disabled ()
pam_access is disabled ()
pam_mkhomedir or pam_oddjob_mkhomedir is disabled (umask=0077)
Always authorize local users is enabled ()
Authenticate system accounts against network services is disabled

2.2.5. Saving and Restoring Configuration Using authconfig

Changing authentication settings can be problematic. Improperly changing the configuration can wrongly exclude users who should have access, can cause connections to the identity store to fail, or can even lock all access to a system.
Before editing the authentication configuration, it is strongly recommended that administrators take a backup of all configuration files. This is done with the --savebackup option.
[root@server ~]# authconfig --savebackup=/backups/authconfigbackup20200701
The authentication configuration can be restored to any previous saved version using the --restorebackup option, with the name of the backup to use.
[root@server ~]# authconfig --restorebackup=/backups/authconfigbackup20200701
The authconfig command saves an automatic backup every time the configuration is altered. It is possible to restore the last backup using the --restorelastbackup option.
[root@server ~]# authconfig --restorelastbackup