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Enforce Authselect Configuration Consistency


This change wants to make authselect required to configure authentication and identity sources and forcefully update non-authselect configuration to the sssd authselect profile to eliminate any existing non-authselect setups.

Even though it will still be possible to manually modify the configuration, users that require special configuration should create and use custom authselect profile.

Authselect is available in Fedora since Fedora 27 and enabled by default on new installations since Fedora 28. Authconfig compatibility tool was removed from Fedora 35 as a system wide change page. It is now well accepted by the community as well as the package maintainers. The package maintainers have repeatedly requested to make authselect mandatory for the users which lead to creation of this bugzilla.


Current status

Detailed Description

The following components must be updated to make authselect mandatory:

  • authselect
  • pam
  • glibc
  • packages that use it: systemd, ecryptfs, nss-mdns and fingerprint.

Required changes:

  1. Remove user-nsswitch.conf functionality from authselect
  2. Move ownership of /etc/nsswitch.conf and /etc/pam.d/{system-auth, password-auth, smartcard-auth, fingerprint-auth, postlogin} to authselect from glibc and pam
  3. Require authselect in pam
  4. Remove non-authselect support from systemd, ecryptfs, nss-mdns and fingerprint
  5. Select default profile when authselect is installed
  6. Select default profile when authselect is upgraded

Remove user-nsswitch.conf functionality

File /etc/authselect/user-nsswitch.conf was introduced in authselect to allow partial user modifications of nsswitch.conf without the need to create a custom authselect profile. The main driver was to enable modules that are not included in authselect such as systemd-resolved and nss-mdns.

This however made the situation more confusing to users and it is not desirable any more if authselect is mandatory.

Authselect will drop user-nsswitch.conf functionality and instead add more nsswitch modules to existing profiles and be more open about future inclusion requests.

Own /etc/nsswitch.conf and /etc/pam.d/{system-auth, password-auth, smartcard-auth, fingerprint-auth, postlogin} instead of glibc and pam

File /etc/nsswitch.conf is currently owned by glibc. It will be now owned by authselect and removed from glibc.

PAM configuration generated by authselect is currently owned by pam. It will be now owned by authselect and removed from pam.

Note: that config-util and other will still be owned by pam since these files are not generated by authselect.

All files that are generated by authselect are now owned by authselect.

Require authselect in pam

The pam package will require authselect. This will tie pam and authselect together and it will be impossible to uninstall authselect without uninstalling pam which fundamentally makes authselect a hard dependency on each system.

This step will make it impossible to uninstall authselect, making it always available to RPM packages.

Remove non-authselect support from systemd, ecryptfs, nss-mdns and fingerprint

Non-authselect configuration support will be dropped in these packages.

Select default profile when authselect is installed

If authselect configuration is not detected and this is a new installation of authselect it will automatically select the distribution default authselect profile by calling authselect select --force with distribution specific parameters.

If existing authselect configuration is detected (perhaps from previous installation), it will be updated (current behavior).

This makes sure that if authselect is installed (which is always) a configuration is created. Select default profile when authselect is upgraded If authselect is upgraded from an older version and non-authselect configuration is detected, it will forcefully overwrite it with distribution defaults by calling authselect select --force with distribution specific parameters.

This is a one time event so if someone does not want to use authselect, it remains possible. However, non-authselect configurations will not be supported by RPM packages mentioned above.

If authselect is upgraded on a system that already is configured by it, the update process remains the same as it is now.

This step will forcefully update existing installations to authselect configuration. It is a one time event and opt-out is still possible but no longer supported.


Benefit to Fedora

Making authselect mandatory will provide better user and maintainers experience and significantly reduce risk of breaking system configuration.

The use of authselect-generated configuration is currently optional. This means that users can uninstall authselect or just opt-out from it by modifying the PAM and nsswitch.conf manually.

Additionally users that upgrade from pre-authselect systems (Fedora 27 and older) must opt-in to authselect manually, which is not the case most of the time. Also sometimes an upgrade of a particular package that did not handle authselect configuration correctly automatically opted-out its users. Therefore we can split users into four groups:

  • Those who are using authselect
  • Those who were using authselect but are not anymore due to various errors in packages
  • Those who are not using authselect because they are not aware of it and upgraded from older Fedora versions thus it was not automatically enabled
  • Those who are not using authselect knowingly

Fedora is now split into two worlds: those who use authselect and those who don’t. This however keeps two problems existing. Authselect was designed to solve them both. But it will be solved only if the use of authselect is a mandatory requirement.

1. It is difficult to deliver updates to configurations

FIles /etc/nsswitch.conf and /etc/pam.d/* are distributed as %config(noreplace) which means that they are configuration files and are only installed if they are not yet present. If they are present then they are never overwritten with package updates, instead an *.rpmnew file is created and the update responsibility is left completely to the user.

It is done this way to prevent overwriting user changes configurations. But at the same time it means that even configurations that are not modified by the users can not be changed so we can not deliver fixes and changes efficiently.

It is only possible through difficult scriptlets. As an example, we can show this bugzilla where a change in Gnome required an update to PAM otherwise the user could not authenticate. Delivering the change was easy with authselect, but difficult for non-authselect systems.

Authselect already knows how the resulting configuration should look and does not risk overriding user configuration. Making it mandatory will help distribute important updates to nsswitch and PAM configuration.

2. Package maintainers wants to enable/disable nsswitch or PAM modules automatically upon installation/uninstallation

Packages that install nsswitch modules (e.g. systemd, nss-mdns) or PAM modules (e.g. ecryptfs, fprintd) want to enable the module automatically upon RPM installation to provide a better user experience. So they use various more or less complex and fragile scriptlets in %post action of the RPM.

This is usually easier for the nsswitch module, when simple sed works for most configurations. But it is not really possible for PAM (because there is high risk of introducing security vulnerabilities or breaking authentication completely) so the packages used authconfig and now authselect.

Packages need to detect the current authselect state and either call authselect when available or fallback to non-authselect scriptlets. The end results tends to be the same for nsswitch modules but different for PAM modules where it is either enabled with authselect or nothing happens.

If authselect is made mandatory, packages can only support authselect configuration which makes the change simple, straightforward, easier to test and safe.


  • Proposal owners:
    • authselect maintainers:
      • implement the changes described in "Detailed Description" in all affected packages
      • open pull requests with the changes against affected packages
  • Other developers:
    • maintainers of affected packages must accept submitted merge request
  • Release engineering: #10337
  • Policies and guidelines: N/A (not needed for this Change)
  • Trademark approval: N/A (not needed for this Change)
  • Alignment with Objectives: N/A

Upgrade/compatibility impact

The system will be forcefully configured with authselect, selecting the default distribution profile (sssd), if non-authselect configuration is detected. It will will override users configuration. A backup will be created, users can run 'authselect backup-restore $id' to restore their configuration when desired.

How To Test

  • Authselect must keep working as expected.
  • Ownership of the following files is transferred to authselect-libs package
    • /etc/pam.d/fingerprint-auth
    • /etc/pam.d/password-auth
    • /etc/pam.d/postlogin
    • /etc/pam.d/smartcard-auth
    • /etc/pam.d/system-auth
    • /etc/nsswitch.conf
  • pam requires authselect
  • updating from previous system with non-authselect configuration must result in applied authselect configuration with sssd profile
  • updating from previous system with authselect configuration must remain intact (besides applying udated profiles)
  • installing/removing affected packages (see Detailed Description) must not break authselect configuration

User Experience

PAM and nsswitch.conf configuration will be automatically updated when changed.

Note: To request inclusion of a new nsswitch or PAM module in default authselect profiles, either open an issue on authselect GitHub project or open a bug against authselect component in Fedora bugzilla.

Note: Users will still be able to create custom profiles to include modules that are not supported by default authselect profiles. However, such profiles will have limited update support. It is possible to create a custom profile with some files as symlinks to default profiles, those files will receive updates automatically. However, modified files of the custom profiles still need to be updated manually and the users are responsible for the update.

Note: Users will still be able to opt-out from authselect, but such configuration will no longer be updated on upgrades or touched by package installation.


This change does not break any packages that depends on authselect.

Contingency Plan

  • Contingency mechanism: Revert changes in affected packages.
  • Contingency deadline: Beta
  • Blocks release? No


There is no upstream documentation.

Release Notes

Configuring system authentication and identity sources with authselect is now mandatory. Systems with non-authselect configuration will be automatically forcefully upgraded to authselect configuration. Users that require special configuration are encouraged to create and use custom authselect profile.