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Old 03-01-2005, 10:40 AM   #1
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Registered: Feb 2005
Location: Huntsville, Alabama
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Question Successful login from locked screen causes pam_tally to increment. Why?

Hi, everyone. I am a System Administrator with Lockheed Martin in
Huntsville, Alabama and I am seeing something strange that has me and
a couple of my coworkers perplexed.

We are running Red Hat 9.0 on a 24-node cluster. Two of the programmers
in this particular lab were complaining that they were constantly getting
locked out of their accounts. Long story short, it would seem that these
two people lock their screens quite a bit and even though they get logged
in successfully from their locked screens, pam_tally increments its counter
which, if I am correct, indicated an UNSUCCESSFUL login attempt. After
several of times of locking/unlocking their screens, they get completely
locked out of their accounts. We have "fixed" this problem with a cron
job that runs every 15 minutes and unlocks all locked accounts but I am
not too comfortable with this.

In addition to the above problem, it seems when root simply logs in,
pam_tally increments root's counter; locking/unlocking the screen does
not increment pam_tally's counter.

I have done several online searches and can find plenty of posts from
people wanting to know why pam_tally *isn't* incrementing, but it looks
like our pam_tally increments when it isn't supposed to increment.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


-Mark Zmyewski
Huntsville, Alabama
Old 03-01-2005, 11:35 PM   #2
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Distribution: Fedora
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What version of pam are you running? Did you make any modifications to /etc/pam.d/xscreensaver?
Old 03-03-2005, 10:25 AM   #3
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Registered: Feb 2005
Location: Huntsville, Alabama
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I am not a Red Hat expert, but it looks like we have pam-devel-0.75-48

We have not made any changes to xscreensaver, but we have made changes to /etc/login.defs and

In /etc/login.defs, we made the following changes:


I don't see how that makes any difference, but I thought I'd let you know about it.

In /etc/pam.d/system-auth, we added:

password required /lib/security/$ISA/ minlen=8 retry=3 dcredit=0 ucredit=0 lcredit=0 ocredit=0

Does this help?



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