Nginx module to use PAM for simple http authentication
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README.md

ngx_http_auth_pam_module

Nginx module to use PAM for simple http authentication

Compilation

When compiling from source build as usual adding the --add-module option:

./configure --add-module=$PATH_TO_MODULE

or if you want to build the module as dynamic use the --add-dynamic-module option.

If you are using a Debian GNU/Linux distribution install the nginx-full package; the module has been included in the debian package since version 1.1.6-1, so it is available on all stable distributions since the wheezy release.

Configuration

The module only has two directives:

  • auth_pam: This is the http authentication realm. If given the value off the module is disabled (needed when we want to override the value set on a lower-level directive).

  • auth_pam_service_name: this is the PAM service name and by default it is set to nginx.

Examples

To protect everything under /secure you will add the following to the nginx.conf file:

location /secure {
    auth_pam              "Secure Zone";
    auth_pam_service_name "nginx";
}

Note that the module runs as the web server user, so the PAM modules used must be able to authenticate the users without being root; that means that if you want to use the pam_unix.so module to autenticate users you need to let the web server user to read the /etc/shadow file if that does not scare you (on Debian like systems you can add the www-data user to the shadow group).

As an example, to authenticate users against an LDAP server (using the pam_ldap.so module) you will use an /etc/pam.d/nginx like the following:

auth    required     /lib/security/pam_ldap.so
account required     /lib/security/pam_ldap.so

If you also want to limit the users from LDAP that can authenticate you can use the pam_listfile.so module; to limit who can access resources under /restricted add the following to the nginx.conf file:

location /restricted {
    auth_pam              "Restricted Zone";
    auth_pam_service_name "nginx_restricted";
}

Use the following /etc/pam.d/nginx_restricted file:

auth    required     /lib/security/pam_listfile.so onerr=fail item=user \
                     sense=allow file=/etc/nginx/restricted_users
auth    required     /lib/security/pam_ldap.so
account required     /lib/security/pam_ldap.so

And add the users allowed to authenticate to the /etc/nginx/restricted_users (remember that the web server user has to be able to read this file).

PAM Environment

If you want use the pam_exec.so plugin for request based authentication the module can add to the PAM environment the HOST and REQUEST variables if you set the auth_pam_set_pam_env flag::

location /pam_exec_protected {
  auth_pam              "Exec Zone";
  auth_pam_service_name "nginx_exec";
  auth_pam_set_pam_env  on;
}

With this configuration if you access an URL like:

http://localhost:8000/pam_exec_protected/page?foo=yes&bar=too

the PAM environment will include the following variables:

HOST=localhost:8000
REQUEST=GET /pam_exec_protected/page?foo=yes&bar=too HTTP/1.1

You may use this information for request based authentication. You need a recent pam release (>= version 1.0.90) to expose environment variables to pam_exec.