LPI Linux Certification/Print Version A

LPI Linux Certification
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Advanced Level Linux Professional

LPI Linux Certification/Advanced Level Linux Professional

Linux Kernel

Detailed Objective (201.1)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 2

Description: Candidates should be able to utilize kernel components that are necessary to specific hardware, hardware drivers, system resources and requirements. This objective includes implementing different types of kernel images, identifying stable and development kernels and patches, as well as using kernel modules.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Kernel 2.6.x, 3.x and 4.x documentation

The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:

  • /usr/src/linux
  • /usr/src/linux/Documentation/
  • zImage
  • bzImage
  • xz compression

Kernel Image Formats

Two types of kernel image formats can be used on Intel platforms: zImage and bzImage. The difference between them is the way they bootstrap and how large the kernel can be, not the compression algorithm as one might think. Both use gzip for compression.


This is the old boot image format for Intel, which works on all known PC hardware. The bootstrap and the unpacked kernel are loaded into the good old, 8086-era 640 KB of low memory. The allowed kernel size is 520 KB. If your kernel excedes this size, you either have to switch to bzImage or put more of the kernel into modules. The boot image builder will tell you when this is the case.


The b in this format stands for big. The bzImage kernel image is not restricted to 520 KB or even 640 KB. bzImage is now the preferred boot image. Though there are some reports of boot failures using this boot image type, these problems are being pursued because the kernel developers want the format to work on all Intel hardware.

Detailed Objectives (201.2)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 2

Description: Candidates should be able to properly configure a kernel to include or disable specific features of the Linux kernel as necessary. This objective includes compiling and recompiling the Linux kernel as needed, updating and noting changes in a new kernel, creating an initrd image and installing new kernels.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • /usr/src/linux/
  • Kernel Makefiles
  • Kernel 2.6.x/3.x make targets
  • Customize the current kernel configuration.
  • Build a new kernel and appropriate kernel modules.
  • Install a new kernel and any modules.
  • Ensure that the boot manager can locate the new kernel and associated files.
  • Module configuration files
  • Use DKMS to compile kernel modules.
  • Awareness of dracut

The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:

  • mkinitrd
  • mkinitramfs
  • make
  • make targets (all, config, xconfig, menuconfig, gconfig, oldconfig, mrproper, zImage, bzImage, modules, modules_install, rpm-pkg, binrpm-pkg, deb-pkg)
  • gzip
  • bzip2
  • module tools
  • /usr/src/linux/.config
  • /lib/modules/kernel-version/
  • depmod
  • dkms

Detailed Objective

Weight: 1

Candidates should be able to properly patch a kernel to add support for new hardware. This objective also includes being able to properly remove kernel patches from already patched kernels.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • Kernel Makefiles
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • patch
    • gzip
    • bzip2

Detailed Objective

Weight: 2

Candidates should be able to customise, build and install a 2.6 kernel for specific system requirements, by patching, compiling and editing configuration files as required. This objective includes being able to assess requirements for a kernel compile as well as build and configure kernel modules.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • Customize the current kernel configuration
    • Build a new kernel and appropriate kernel modules
    • Install a new kernel and any modules
    • Ensure that the boot manager can locate the new kernel and associated files
    • /usr/src/linux/
    • Module configuration files
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • patch
    • make
    • module tools
    • /usr/src/linux/*
    • /usr/src/linux/.config
    • /lib/modules/kernel-version/*
    • /boot/*
    • make targets: all, config, menuconfig, xconfig, gconfig oldconfig, modules, install, modules_install, depmod, rpm-pkg, binrpm-pkg, deb-pkg

System Startup

Detailed Objective (202.1)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 4

Description: Candidates should be able to query and modify the behaviour of system services at various targets / run levels. A thorough understanding of the systemd, SysV Init and the Linux boot process is required. This objective includes interacting with systemd targets and SysV Init runlevels.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Systemd
  • SysV init
  • Linux Standard Base Specification (LSB)

The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:

  • /usr/lib/systemd/
  • /etc/systemd/
  • /run/systemd/
  • systemctl
  • systemd-delta
  • /etc/inittab
  • /etc/init.d/
  • /etc/rc.d/
  • chkconfig
  • update-rc.d
  • init and telinit

Detailed Objective (202.2)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 4

Description: Candidates should be able to properly manipulate a Linux system during both the boot process and during recovery mode. This objective includes using both the init utility and init-related kernel options. Candidates should be able to determine the cause of errors in loading and usage of bootloaders. GRUB version 2 and GRUB Legacy are the bootloaders of interest. Both BIOS and UEFI systems are covered.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • BIOS and UEFI
  • NVMe booting
  • GRUB version 2 and Legacy
  • grub shell
  • boot loader start and hand off to kernel
  • kernel loading
  • hardware initialisation and setup
  • daemon/service initialisation and setup
  • Know the different boot loader install locations on a hard disk or removable device.
  • Overwrite standard boot loader options and using boot loader shells.
  • Use systemd rescue and emergency modes.

Terms and Utilities:

  • mount
  • fsck
  • inittab, telinit and init with SysV init
  • The contents of /boot/, /boot/grub/ and /boot/efi/
  • EFI System Partition (ESP)
  • GRUB
  • grub-install
  • efibootmgr
  • UEFI shell
  • initrd, initramfs
  • Master boot record
  • systemctl

File Systems

Detailed Objective (203.1)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 4

Description: Candidates should be able to properly configure and navigate the standard Linux filesystem. This objective includes configuring and mounting various filesystem types.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • The concept of the fstab configuration.
  • Tools and utilities for handling swap partitions and files.
  • Use of UUIDs for identifying and mounting file systems
  • Understanding of systemd mount units

Terms and Utilities:

  • /etc/fstab
  • /etc/mtab
  • /proc/mounts
  • mount and umount
  • blkid
  • sync
  • swapon
  • swapoff

Mounting and umounting partition

To access an existing partition you need to mount it first using the mount command.
For example if you want to mount a ntfs partition on /mnt/windows you should issue the following command:

mount -t ntfs /dev/hda3 /mnt/windows

Of course you need to change hda3 with your ntfs partition.
To umount a partition you simply need to use umount

umount /mnt/windows


umount /dev/hda3

If you use mount without arguments it will print the currently mounted devices, you can also see /proc/mounts and /etc/mtab to discover which partition are currently mounted.


If you want to use a more automatic method to mount filesystem you should edit /etc/fstab

<file system> <mount point>   <type>  <options>       <dump>  <pass>
proc            /proc           proc    defaults        0       0
/dev/hda2       /               ext3    defaults        0       1
/dev/hda4       none            swap    defaults        0       0
/dev/hda1       /boot           ext3    defaults        0       2
/dev/hda3       /mnt/windows    ntfs    defaults        0       0
/dev/hdb        /media/cdrom    iso9660 ro,user,noauto  0       0
/dev/fd0        /media/floppy   auto    user,noauto     0       0

In the above example of /etc/fstab we have the ntfs partition mounted automatically during the system boot on /mnt/windows, while on the cdrom and floppy devices we have specified the noauto and user options, this means that they aren't mounted during boot but also that any user can mount it whenever they need. The sixth field should be 1 for root filesystem and 2 for other fs that need to be checked with fsck during boot.


The swap partition can be used as virtual memory, to create a swap partition you should use mkswap

mkswap /dev/hda4

and need to be activated with swapon

swapon /dev/hda4

you can also deactivate it with swapoff

swapoff /dev/hda4


The sync utility can be used to force the change onto the partition, modern filesystem like ext3 or reiserfs sync the partition every time that a change is made so you don't need to issue the command manually.


Detailed Objective (203.2)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 4

Description: Candidates should be able to properly maintain a Linux filesystem using system utilities. This objective includes manipulating standard filesystems and monitoring SMART devices.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Tools and utilities to manipulate ext2, ext3 and ext4
  • Tools and utilities to perform basic Btrfs operations, including subvolumes and snapshots
  • Tools and utilities to manipulate XFS
  • Awareness of ZFS

Terms and Utilities:

  • mkfs (mkfs.*)
  • mkswap
  • fsck (fsck.*)
  • tune2fs, dumpe2fs, debugfs
  • btrfs, btrfs-convert
  • xfs_info, xfs_check, xfs_repair, xfsdump and xfsrestore
  • smartd, smartctl

Formatting a partition

Before you format a partition you need to choose the right filesystem for your needs. The most common filesystem on linux is ext3 which is a journaled filesystem based on ext2. To format a partition with a filesystem you need to use the mkfs.* commands

 mkfs.ext3 /dev/hda1
 mkfs.vfat /dev/hda1
 mkfs.xfs /dev/hda1
 mkfs.reiserfs /dev/hda1

to create an ext2/ext3 filesystem you can also use the mke2fs utility

mke2fs /dev/hda1
mke2fs -j /dev/hda1

Configuring and repair filesystem

tune2fs it's an utility used to tune ext2/ext3 filesystem

#add the journal to an ext2 filesystem(convert from ext2 to ext3)
tune2fs -j /dev/hda1
#set the max mount count before the filesystem is checked for errors to 30
tune2fs -c 30 /dev/hda1 
#set the max time before the filesystem is checked for errors to 10 days
tune2fs -i 10d /dev/hda1

you can also tune a reiserfs partition using reiserfstune

#create a new journal for /dev/hda1 into /dev/hda2 
reiserfstune --journal-new-device /dev/hda2 -f /dev/hda1

to check a filesystem for errors you can use fsck.*

 fsck.ext3 /dev/hda1
 fsck.vfat /dev/hda1
 fsck.xfs /dev/hda1
 fsck.reiserfs /dev/hda1

you can also just run fsck /dev/hda1 directly and it will detect the filesystem


Detailed Objectives (203.3)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 2

Description: Candidates should be able to configure automount filesystems using AutoFS. This objective includes configuring automount for network and device filesystems. Also included is creating filesystems for devices such as CD-ROMs and a basic feature knowledge of encrypted filesystems.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • autofs configuration files
  • Understanding of automount units
  • UDF and ISO9660 tools and utilities
  • Awareness of other CD-ROM filesystems (HFS)
  • Awareness of CD-ROM filesystem extensions (Joliet, Rock Ridge, El Torito)
  • Basic feature knowledge of data encryption (dm-crypt / LUKS)

Terms and Utilities:

  • /etc/auto.master
  • /etc/auto.[dir]
  • mkisofs
  • cryptsetup


Detailed Objective (204.1)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 2

Description: Candidates should be able to configure and implement software RAID. This objective includes using and configuring RAID 0, 1 and 5.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Software raid configuration files and utilities

Terms and Utilities:

  • mdadm.conf
  • mdadm
  • /proc/mdstat
  • partition type 0xFD

Detailed Objective

Weight: 3

Candidates should be able to configure internal and external devices for a system including new hard disks, dumb terminal devices, serial UPS devices, multi-port serial cards, and LCD panels.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • X.org
    • XFree86
    • Module tools
    • Tools and utilities to list various hardware information (e.g. lsdev, lspci, etc.)
    • Tools and utilities to manipulate legacy interfaces (RS232, LPT, etc)
    • Tools and utilities to manipulate USB devices
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • modprobe
    • lsmod
    • lsdev
    • lspci
    • setserial
    • usbview
    • lsusb

Detailed Objective

Weight: 2

Candidates should be able to configure kernel options to support various drives. This objective includes using LVM (Logical Volume Manager) to manage hard disk drives and partitions, as well as software tools to view & modify hard disk settings.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • Tools and utilities to configure DMA for IDE devices including ATAPI and SATA
    • LVM tools and utilities
    • Tools and utilities to manipulate or analyse system resources (e.g. interrupts)
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • /proc/interrupts
    • hdparm
    • tune2fs
    • sysctl

Detailed Objective

Weight: 1

Candidates should be able to configure a Linux installation to include support for mobile computer hardware extensions. This objective includes configuring those devices.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • PCCard and PCMCIA
    • PCCard and PCMCIA configuration files, tools and utilities
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • /etc/pcmcia/
    • *.opts
    • cardctl
    • cardmgr

File & Service Sharing

Detailed Objectives

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 5

Description: Candidates should be able to set up a Samba server for various clients. This objective includes setting up Samba as a member in an Active Directory. Furthermore, the configuration of simple CIFS and printer shares is covered. Also covered is a configuring a Linux client to use a Samba server. Troubleshooting installations is also tested.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Samba 4 documentation
  • Samba 4 configuration files
  • Samba 4 tools and utilities and daemons
  • Mounting CIFS shares on Linux
  • Mapping Windows user names to Linux user names
  • User-Level, Share-Level and AD security

Terms and Utilities:

  • smbd, nmbd, winbindd
  • smbcontrol, smbstatus, testparm, smbpasswd, nmblookup
  • samba-tool
  • net
  • smbclient
  • mount.cifs
  • /etc/samba/
  • /var/log/samba/

Detailed Objectives (209.2)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 3

Description: Candidates should be able to export filesystems using NFS. This objective includes access restrictions, mounting an NFS filesystem on a client and securing NFS.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • NFS version 3 configuration files
  • NFS tools and utilities
  • Access restrictions to certain hosts and/or subnets
  • Mount options on server and client
  • TCP Wrappers
  • Awareness of NFSv4

Terms and Utilities:

  • /etc/exports
  • exportfs
  • showmount
  • nfsstat
  • /proc/mounts
  • /etc/fstab
  • rpcinfo
  • mountd
  • portmapper

System Maintenance

Detailed Objective

Weight: 2

Candidates should be able to configure the syslog daemon. This objective also includes configuring the logging daemon to send log output to a central log server or accept log output as a central log server.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • syslog configuration files
    • syslog
    • standard facilities, priorities and actions
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • syslog.conf
    • syslogd
    • klogd
    • logger

Detailed Objective

Weight: 1

Candidates should be able to build a software package. This objective includes building or rebuilding both RPM and DEB packaged software.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • RPM description, software and commands
    • DEB description, software and commands
    • SPEC file format
    • debian/rules file format
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • rpmbuild
    • The contents of /var/lib/rpm and /usr/lib/rpm/
    • var/cache/debconf/
    • dpkg-deb
    • dpkg

Detailed Objective (206.2)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 3

Description: Candidates should be able to use system tools to back up important system data.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Knowlegde about directories that have to be include in backups.
  • Awareness of network backup solutions such as Amanda, Bacula, Bareos and BackupPC.
  • Knowledge of the benefits and drawbacks of tapes, CDR, disk or other backup media.
  • Perform partial and manual backups.
  • Verify the integrity of backup files.
  • Partially or fully restore backups.

Terms and Utilities:

  • /bin/sh
  • dd
  • tar
  • /dev/st* and /dev/nst*
  • mt
  • rsync

further reading

System Customisation & Automation

Detailed Objective

Weight: 3

Candidates should be able to write simple scripts to automate tasks using different common scripting languages. Tasks for automation include checking processes, process execution, parsing logs, synchronising files across machines, monitoring files for changes, generating and sending e-mail alerts and notifying administrators when specified users log in or out.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • Standard text manipulation software such as awk and sed
    • BASH
    • cron configuration files
    • at daemon usage
    • Remote copying software such as rsync and scp
    • Perl: basic commands
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • perl, bash, awk, sed
    • crontab
    • at


Detailed Objective

Weight: 1

Candidates should be able to create bootdisks for system entrance and recovery disks for system repair.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • Filesystem configuration files
    • INIT configuration files
    • Any standard editor
    • Familiarity with the location and contents of the LDP Bootdisk-HOWTO
    • Tools to manipulate the MBR
    • Tools and utilities to copy and mount filesystems
    • GRUB
    • LILO
    • Loop devices
    • Making CD or USB storage devices bootable
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • /etc/fstab
    • /etc/inittab
    • /usr/sbin/rdev
    • /bin/cat
    • /bin/mount (includes -o loop switch)
    • /sbin/lilo
    • /bin/dd
    • /sbin/mke2fs
    • /usr/sbin/chroot

Detailed Objective

Weight: 1

Candidates should be able to determine, from bootup text, the 4 stages of the boot sequence and distinguish between each.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • boot loader start and hand off to kernel
    • kernel loading
    • hardware initialisation and setup
    • daemon initialisation and setup
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • Not applicable.

Detailed Objective

Weight: 1

Candidates should be able to determine specific stage failures and corrective techniques.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • LILO
    • GRUB
    • Know the different bootloader install locations on a hard disk or removable device
    • Overwriting standard bootloader options or using bootloader shells
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • The contents of /boot/ and /boot/grub/
    • /etc/lilo.conf
    • grub
    • grub-install
    • lilo

further reading

Detailed Objective

Weight: 1

Candidates should be able to recognise and identify boot loader and kernel specific stages and utilise kernel boot messages to diagnose kernel errors. This objective includes being able to identify and correct common hardware issues and be able to determine if the problem is hardware or software.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • /proc filesystem
    • Various system and daemon log files
    • Content of /, /boot , and /lib/ modules
    • Screen output during bootup
    • Kernel syslog entries in system logs (if entry is able to be gained)
    • Tools and utilities to analyse information about the used hardware
    • Tools and utilities to trace software
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • dmesg
    • /sbin/lspci
    • /usr/bin/lsdev
    • /sbin/lsmod
    • /sbin/modprobe
    • /sbin/insmod
    • /bin/uname
    • strace
    • strings
    • ltrace
    • lsof

Detailed Objective

Weight: 1

Candidates should be able to identify, diagnose and repair local system issues when using software from the command line.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • Core system variables
    • The contents of:
      • /etc/profile && /etc/profile.d/
      • /etc/init.d/
      • /etc/rc.*
      • /etc/sysctl.conf
      • /etc/bashrc
      • /etc/ld.so.conf
        • or other appropriate global shell configuration files
    • Any standard editor
    • Standard tools, utilities and commands to manipulate the above files and variables
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • /bin/ln
    • /bin/rm
    • /sbin/ldconfig
    • /sbin/sysctl

Detailed Objective

Weight: 1

Candidates should be able to identify common local system and user environment configuration issues and common repair techniques.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • Core system variables
    • init configuration files
    • init start process
    • cron configuration files
    • Login process
    • User-password storage files
    • Determine user group associations
    • SHELL configuration files of bash and csh
    • Analysing which processes or daemons are running
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • /etc/inittab
    • /etc/rc.local
    • /etc/rc.boot
    • /var/spool/cron/crontabs/
    • The default shell configuration file(s) in /etc/
    • /etc/login.defs
    • /etc/syslog.conf
    • /etc/passwd
    • /etc/shadow
    • /etc/group
    • /sbin/init
    • /usr/sbin/cron
    • /usr/bin/crontab


Detailed Objectives (205.1)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 3

Description: Candidates should be able to configure a network device to be able to connect to a local, wired or wireless, and a wide-area network. This objective includes being able to communicate between various subnets within a single network including both IPv4 and IPv6 networks.

Key Knowledge Areas:

    • Utilities to configure and manipulate ethernet network interfaces
    • Configuring wireless networks.

Terms and Utilities:

  • ip
  • ifconfig
  • route
  • arp
  • iw
  • iwconfig
  • iwlist

Introduction to Getty

getty is the program you run for dialin. You don't need it for dialout. In addition to presenting a login prompt, it also may help answer the telephone. Originally getty was used for logging in to a computer from a dumb terminal. A major use of it today is for logging in to a Linux console. There are several different getty programs but a few of these work OK with modems for dialin. The getty program is usually started at boot-time. It must be called from the /etc/inittab file. In this file you may find some examples which you will likely need to edit a bit. Hopefully these examples will be for the flavor of getty installed on your PC.

There are four different getty programs to choose from that may be used with modems for dial-in: mgetty, uugetty, getty_em, and agetty. A brief overview is given in the following subsections. Agetty is the weakest of the four and it's mainly for use with directly connected text-terminals. mgetty has support for fax and voice mail but Uugetty doesn't. mgetty allegedly lacks a few of the features of uugetty. getty_em is a simplified version of uugetty. Thus mgetty is likely your best choice unless you are already familiar with uugetty (or find it difficult to get mgetty). The syntax for these getty programs differs, so be sure to check that you are using the correct syntax in /etc/inittab for whichever getty you use.

In order to see what documentation exists about the various gettys on your computer, use the "locate" command. Type: locate "*getty*" (including the quotes may help). Note that many distributions just call the program getty even though it may actually be agetty, uugetty, etc. But if you read the man page (type: man getty), it might disclose which getty it is. This should be the getty program with path /sbin/getty.

Getty "exits" after login (and can respawn) :

After you log in you will notice (by using "top", "ps -ax", or "ptree") that the getty process is no longer running. What happened to it? Why does getty restart again if your shell is killed? Here's why : after you type in your user name, getty takes it and calls the login program telling it your user name. The getty process is replaced by the login process. The login process asks for your password, checks it and starts whatever process is specified in your password file. This process is often the bash shell. If so, bash starts and replaces the login process. Note that one process replaces another and that the bash shell process originally started as the getty process. The implications of this will be explained below.

Now in the /etc/inittab file getty is supposed to respawn (restart) if killed. It says so on the line that calls getty.

Example: getty entry from /etc/inittab S0:12345:respawn:/sbin/agetty -L 9600 ttyS0 vt102

But if the bash shell (or the login process) is killed, getty respawns (restarts). Why? Well, both the login process and bash are replacements for getty and inherit the signal connections establish by their predecessors. In fact if you observe the details you will notice that the replacement process will have the same process ID as the original process. Thus bash is sort of getty in disguise with the same process ID number. If bash is killed it is just like getty was killed (even though getty isn't running anymore). This results in getty respawning.

When one logs out, all the processes on that serial port are killed including the bash shell. This may also happen (if enabled) if a hangup signal is sent to the serial port by a drop of DCD voltage by the modem. Either the logout or drop in DCD will result in getty respawning. One may force getty to respawn by manually killing bash (or login) either by hitting the k key, etc. while in "top" or with the "kill" command. You will likely need to kill it with signal 9 (which can't be ignored).

The cycle illustrated:

      init - spawns -> getty -- starts -> login - starts --> shell
        \                                                      /
         \---------------<<  returns control to <<------------/

You can identify the login shell by a minus in start of the name.

Example: ps output (filtered) walter 32255 0.0 0.7 4012 1772 pts/36 Ss 14:53 0:00 -bash

About mgetty

mgetty was written as a replacement for uugetty which was in existence long before mgetty. Both are for use with modems but mgetty is best (unless you already are committed to uugetty). Mgetty may be also used for directly connected terminals. In addition to allowing dialup logins, mgetty also provides FAX support and auto PPP detection. It permits dialing out when mgetty is waiting for an incoming phone call. There is a supplemental program called vgetty which handles voicemail for some modems. mgetty documentation is fair (except for voice mail). To automatically start PPP one must edit /etc/mgetty/login.conf to enable "AutoPPP" You can find the latest information on mgetty at http://www.leo.org/~doering/mgetty/ and http://alpha.greenie.net/mgetty/

About uugetty

getty_ps contains two programs: getty is used for console and terminal devices, and uugetty for modems. Greg Hankins (former author of Serial-HOWTO) used uugetty so his writings about it are included here. See Uugetty.

About getty_em

This is a simplified version of uugetty. It was written by Vern Hoxie after he became fully confused with complex support files needed for getty_ps and uugetty. It is part of the collection of serial port utilities and information by Vern Hoxie available via ftp from scicom.alphacdc.com/pub/linux. The name of the collection is serial_suite.tgz.

About agetty

This subsection is long since the author tried using agetty for dialin. agetty is seemingly simple since there are no initialization files. But when I tried it, it opened the serial port even when there was no CD signal present. It then sent both a login prompt and the /etc/issue file to the modem in the AT-command state before a connection was made. The modem thinks all this an AT command and if it does contain any "at" strings (by accident) it is likely to adversely modify your modem profile. Echo wars can start where getty and the modem send the same string back and forth over and over. You may see a "respawning too rapidly" error message if this happens. To prevent this you need to disable all echoing and result codes from the modem (E0 and Q1). Also use the -i option with agetty to prevent any /etc/issue file from being sent.

If you start getty on the modem port and a few seconds later find that you have the login process running on that port instead of getty, it means that a bogus user name has been sent to agetty from the modem. To keep this from happening, I had to save my dial-in profile in the modem so that it become effective at power-on. The other saved profile is for dial-out. Then any dial-out programs which use the modem must use a Z, Z0, or Z1 in their init string to initialize the modem for dial-out (by loading the saved dial-out profile). If the 1-profile is for dial-in you use Z1 to load it, etc. If you want to listen for dial-in later on, then the modem needs to be reset to the dial-in profile. Not all dial-out programs can do this reset upon exit from them.

Thus while agetty may work OK if you set up a dial-in profile correctly in the modem hardware, it's probably best suited for virtual consoles or terminals rather than modems. If agetty is running for dialin, there's no easy way to dial out. When someone first dials in to agetty, they should hit the return key to get the login prompt. agetty in the Debian distribution is just named getty.

About mingetty, and fbgetty

mingetty is a small getty that will work only for monitors (the usual console) so you can't use it with modems for dialin. fbgetty is as above but supports framebuffers.

Basic networking configuration

Configuring PAP/CHAP authentication for PPP

if the server to which you are connecting requires PAP or CHAP authentication, edit your PPP options file and add the following lines :

# force pppd to use your ISP user name as your 'host name' during the authentication process
name <your ISP user name> # you need to edit this line
# If you are running a PPP *server* and need to force PAP or CHAP uncomment the appropriate
# one of the following lines. Do NOT use these is you are a client connecting to a PPP server (even if
# it uses PAP or CHAP) as this tells the SERVER to authenticate itself to your machine (which
# almost certainly can't do - and the link will fail).
# If you are using ENCRYPTED secrets in the /etc/ppp/pap-secrets file, then uncomment the
# following line. Note: this is NOT the same as using MS encrypted passwords as can be
# set up in MS RAS on Windows NT.

Basic networking configuration Using MSCHAP

Microsoft Windows NT RAS can be set up to use a variation on CHAP (Challenge/Handshake Authentication Protocol). In your PPP sources tar ball, you will find a file called README.MSCHAP80 that discusses this.

You can determine if the server is requesting authentication using this protocol by enabling debugging for pppd. If the server is requesting MS CHAP authentication, you will see lines like :

rcvd [LCP ConfReq id=0x2 <asyncmap 0x0> <auth chap 80> <magic 0x46a3>]

The critical information here is auth chap 80. In order to use MS CHAP, you will need to recompile pppd to support this. Please see the instructions in the README.MSCHAP80 file in the PPP source file for instructions on how to compile and use this variation.

You should note that at present this code supports only Linux PPP clients connecting to an MS Windows NT server. It does NOT support setting up a Linux PPP server to use MSCHAP80 authentication from clients.

The PAP/CHAP secrets file

If you are using pap or chap authentication, then you also need to create the secrets file. These are:


They must be owned by user root, group root and have file permissions 740 for security. The first point to note about PAP and CHAP is that they are designed to authenticate computer systems not users. Huh? What's the difference? I hear you ask. Well now, once your computer has made its PPP connection to the server, ANY user on your system can use that connection - not just you. This is why you can set up a WAN (wide area network) link that joins two LANs (local area networks) using PPP.

PAP can (and for CHAP DOES) require bidirectional authentication - that is a valid name and secret is required on each computer for the other computer involved. However, this is NOT the way most PPP servers offering dial-up PPP PAP-authenticated connections operate.

That being said, your ISP will probably have given you a user name and password to allow you to connect to their system and thence the Internet. Your ISP is not interested in your computer's name at all, so you will probably need to use the user name at your ISP as the name for your computer. This is done using the name user name option to pppd. So, if you are to use the user name given you by your ISP, add the line :

name your_user name_at_your_ISP

to your /etc/ppp/options file. Technically, you should really use user our_user name_at_your_ISP for PAP, but pppd is sufficiently intelligent to interpret name as user if it is required to use PAP. The advantage of using the name option is that this is also valid for CHAP.

As PAP is for authenticating computers, technically you need also to specify a remote computer name. However, as most people only have one ISP, you can use a wild card (*) for the remote host name in the secrets file. It is also worth noting that many ISPs operate multiple modem banks connected to different terminal servers - each with a different name, but ACCESSED from a single (rotary) dial in number. It can therefore be quite difficult in some circumstances to know ahead of time what the name of the remote computer is, as this depends on which terminal server you connect to! Basic networking configuration

The PAP secrets file

The /etc/ppp/pap-secrets file looks like :

# Secrets for authentication using PAP
# client        server       secret     acceptable_local_IP_addresses

The four fields are white space delimited and the last one can be blank (which is what you want for a dynamic and probably static IP allocation from your ISP). Suppose your ISP gave you a user name of fred and a password of flintstone you would set the name fred option in /etc/ppp/options[.ttySx] and set up your /etc/ppp/pap-secrets file as follows :

# Secrets for authentication using PAP
# client        server  secret  acceptable local IP addresses
fred  * flintstone

This says for the local machine name fred (which we have told pppd to use even though it is not our local machine name) and for ANY server, use the password (secret) of flintstone. Note that we do not need to specify a local IP address, unless we are required to FORCE a particular local, static IP address. Even if you try this, it is unlikely to work as most PPP servers (for security reasons) do not allow the remote system to set the IP number they are to be given.

The CHAP secrets file

This requires that you have mutual authentication methods - that is you must allow for both your machine to authenticate the remote server AND the remote server to authenticate your machine.

So, if your machine is fred and the remote is barney, your machine would set name fred remotename barney and the remote machine would set name barney remotename fred in their respective /etc/ppp/options.ttySx files.

The /etc/chap-secrets file for fred would look like :

# Secrets for authentication using CHAP
# client        server  secret            acceptable local IP addresses
fred  barney flintstone
barney  fred wilma

and for barney :

# Secrets for authentication using CHAP
# client        server  secret            acceptable local IP addresses
barney          fred    flintstone
fred  barney wilma

Note in particular that both machines must have entries for bidirectional authentication. This allows the local machine to authenticate itself to the remote AND the remote machine to authenticate itself to the local machine.

Handling multiple PAP-authenticated connections

Some users have more than one server to which they connect that use PAP. Provided that your user name is different on each machine to which you want to connect, this is not a problem.

However, many users have the same user name on two (or more - even all) systems to which they connect. This then presents a problem in correctly selecting the appropriate line from /etc/ppp/pap- secrets.

As you might expect, PPP provides a mechanism for overcoming this. PPP allows you to set an 'assumed name' for the remote (server) end of the connection using the remotename option to pppd.

Let us suppose that you connect to two PPP servers using the username fred. You set up your /etc/ppp/pap-secrets something like :

fred pppserver1 barney
fred pppserver2 wilma

Now, to set connect to pppserver1 you would use name fred remotename pppserver1 in your ppp- options and for pppserver2 name fred remotename pppserver2.

As you can select the ppp options file to use with pppd using the file filename option, you can set up a script to connect to each of your PPP servers, correctly picking the options file to use and hence selecting the right remotename option.

Key terms, files and utilities :



Detailed Objective (205.2)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 4

Description: Candidates should be able to configure a network device to implement various network authentication schemes. This objective includes configuring a multi-homed network device and resolving communication problems.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Utilities to manipulate routing tables
  • Utilities to configure and manipulate ethernet network interfaces
  • Utilities to analyse the status of the network devices
  • Utilities to monitor and analyse the TCP/IP traffic

Terms and Utilities:

  • ip
  • ifconfig
  • route
  • arp
  • ss
  • netstat
  • lsof
  • ping, ping6
  • nc
  • tcpdump
  • nmap

Advanced Network Configuration and Troubleshooting


Description: The candidate should be able to configure a network device to implement various network authentication schemes. This objective includes configuring a multi-homed network device, configuring a virtual private network and resolving networking and communication problems.

Key files, terms, and utilities include:


Network packet filtering

Network packet filtering is done in one of three ways under Linux :

  • Ipfwadm : kernel 2.0.x and up (RedHat 5.x)
  • Ipchains : kernel 2.2.x and up (RedHat 6.x, 7.0)
  • Iptables : kernel 2.4.x and up (RedHat 7.1 – 9.0)

Their design and capabilities are quite different – note that ipfwadm is considered obsolete, iptables being the most advanced and current In iptables, the packet flow diagram looks like :

Iptables need some options configured in your kernel (or as modules) :

This option allows applications and utilities that needs to work directly to various network devices. Examples of such utilities are tcpdump or snort.
This option is required if you're going to use your computer as a firewall or gateway to the Internet.
This module is needed to make connection tracking. Connection tracking is used by, among other things, NAT and Masquerading. If you need to firewall machines on a LAN you most definitely should mark this option.
This module is required if you want to do connection tracking on FTP connections. Since FTP connections are quite hard to do connection tracking on in normal cases, conntrack needs a so called helper, this option compiles the helper. If you do not add this module you won't be able to FTP through a firewall or gateway properly.
This option is required if you want do any kind of filtering, masquerading or NAT. It adds the whole iptables identification framework to the kernel. Without this you won't be able to do anything at all with iptables.
This module isn't exactly required. This option provides the LIMIT match, that adds the possibility to control how many packets per minute that are to be matched, governed by an appropriate rule. For example, -m limit --limit 3/minute would match a maximum of 3 packets per minute. This module can also be used to avoid certain Denial of Service attacks.
This allows us to match packets based on MAC addresses. Every Ethernet adapter has its own MAC address. We could for instance block packets based on what MAC address is used and block a certain computer pretty well since the MAC address very seldom change.
This allows us to use a MARK match. For example, if we use the target MARK we could mark a packet and then depending on if this packet is marked further on in the table, we can match based on this mark. This option is the actual match MARK, and further down we will describe the actual target MARK.
This module allows us to match packets with a whole range of destination ports or source ports. Normally this wouldn't be possible, but with this match it is.
With this match we can match packets based on their TOS field. TOS stands for Type Of Service. TOS can also be set by certain rules in the mangle table and via the ip/tc commands.
This option adds the possibility for us to match TCP packets based on their MSS field.
This is one of the biggest news in comparison to ipchains. With this module we can do stateful matching on packets. For example, if we have already seen traffic in two directions in a TCP connection, this packet will be counted as ESTABLISHED.
This module will add the possibility for us to match IP, TCP, UDP and ICMP packets that don't conform to type or are invalid. We could for example drop these packets, but we never know if they are legitimate or not. Note that this match is still experimental and might not work perfectly in all cases.
This option will add the possibility for us to do matching based on the owner of a socket. For example, we can allow only the user root to have Internet access. This module was originally just written as an example on what could be done with the new iptables. Note that this match is still experimental and might not work for everyone.
This module will add the basic filter table which will enable you to do IP filtering at all. In the filter table you'll find the INPUT, FORWARD and OUTPUT chains. This module is required if you plan to do any kind of filtering on packets that you receive and send.
This target allows us to specify that an ICMP error message should be sent in reply to incoming packets, instead of plainly dropping them dead to the floor. Keep in mind that TCP connections, as opposed to ICMP and UDP, are always reset or refused with a TCP RST packet.
This allows packets to be bounced back to the sender of the packet. For example, if we set up a MIRROR target on destination port HTTP on our INPUT chain and someone tries to access this port, we would bounce his packets back to him and finally he would probably see his own homepage.
This module allows network address translation, or NAT, in its different forms. This option gives us access to the nat table in iptables. This option is required if we want to do port forwarding, masquerading, etc. Note that this option is not required for firewalling and masquerading of a LAN, but you should have it present unless you are able to provide unique IP addresses for all hosts.
This module adds the MASQUERADE target. For instance if we don't know what IP we have to the Internet this would be the preferred way of getting the IP instead of using DNAT or SNAT. In other words, if we use DHCP, PPP, SLIP or some other connection that assigns us an IP, we need to use this target instead of SNAT. Masquerading gives a slightly higher load on the computer than NAT, but will work without us knowing the IP address in advance.
This target is useful together with application proxies, for example. Instead of letting a packet pass right through, we remap them to go to our local box instead. In other words, we have the possibility to make a transparent proxy this way.
This adds the LOG target and its functionality to iptables. We can use this module to log certain packets to syslogd and hence see what is happening to the packet. This is invaluable for security audits, forensics or debugging a script you are writing.
This option can be used to counter Internet Service Providers and servers who block ICMP Fragmentation Needed packets. This can result in web-pages not getting through, small mails getting through while larger mails don't, ssh works but scp dies after handshake, etc. We can then use the TCPMSS target to overcome this by clamping our MSS (Maximum Segment Size) to the PMTU (Path Maximum Transmit Unit). This way, we'll be able to handle what the authors of Netfilter them selves call "criminally brain-dead ISPs or servers" in the kernel configuration help.
Adds a compatibility mode with the obsolescent ipchains. Do not look to this as any real long term solution for solving migration from Linux 2.2 kernels to 2.4 kernels, since it may well be gone with kernel 2.6.
Compatibility mode with obsolescent ipfwadm. Definitely don't look to this as a real long term solution.

When a packet first enters the firewall, it hits the hardware and then gets passed on to the proper device driver in the kernel. Then the packet starts to go through a series of steps in the kernel, before it is either sent to the correct application (locally), or forwarded to another host - or whatever happens to it.

First, let us have a look at a packet that is destined for our own local host. It would pass through the following steps before actually being delivered to our application that receives it:

Note that this time the packet was passed through the INPUT chain instead of the FORWARD chain. Quite logical. Most probably the only thing that's really logical about the traversing of tables and chains in your eyes in the beginning, but if you continue to think about it, you'll find it will get clearer in time. Now we look at the outgoing packets from our own local host and what steps they go through.

In this example, we're assuming that the packet is destined for another host on another network. The packet goes through the different steps in the following fashion :

As you can see, there are quite a lot of steps to pass through. The packet can be stopped at any of the iptables chains, or anywhere else if it is malformed; however, we are mainly interested in the iptables aspect of this lot. Do note that there are no specific chains or tables for different interfaces or anything like that. FORWARD is always passed by all packets that are forwarded over this firewall/router.

Do not use the INPUT chain to filter on in the previous scenario! INPUT is meant solelyfor packets to our local host that do not get routed to any otherdestination.

We have now seen how the different chains are traversed in three separate scenarios. If we were to figure out a good map of all this, it would look something like this:

To clarify this image, consider this. If we get a packet into the first routing decision that is not destined for the local machine itself, it will be routed through the FORWARD chain. If the packet is, on the other hand, destined for an IP address that the local machine is listening to, we would send the packet through the INPUT chain and to the local machine.

Also worth a note, is the fact that packets may be destined for the local machine, but the destination address may be changed within the PREROUTING chain by doing NAT. Since this takes place before the first routing decision, the packet will be looked upon after this change. Because of this, the routing may be changed before the routing decision is done. Do note, that all packets will be going through one or the other path in this image. If you DNAT a packet back to the same network that it came from, it will still travel through the rest of the chains until it is back out on the network.

Mangle table

This table should as we've already noted mainly be used for mangling packets. In other words, you may freely use the mangle matches etc that could be used to change TOS (Type Of Service) fields and so on.

You are strongly advised not to use this table for any filtering; nor will any DNAT, SNAT or Masquerading work in this table.

Targets that are only valid in the mangle table:

  • TOS
  • TTL
  • MARK

The TOS target is used to set and/or change the Type of Service field in the packet. This could be used for setting up policies on the network regarding how a packet should be routed and so on. Note that this has not been perfected and is not really implemented on the Internet and most of the routers don't care about the value in this field, and sometimes, they act faulty on what they get. Don't set this in other words for packets going to the Internet unless you want to make routing decisions on it, with iproute2.

The TTL target is used to change the TTL (Time To Live) field of the packet. We could tell packets to only have a specific TTL and so on. One good reason for this could be that we don't want to give ourself away to nosy Internet Service Providers. Some Internet Service Providers do not like users running multiple computers on one single connection, and there are some Internet Service Providers known to look for a single host generating different TTL values, and take this as one of many signs of multiple computers connected to a single connection.

The MARK target is used to set special mark values to the packet. These marks could then be recognized by the iproute2 programs to do different routing on the packet depending on what mark they have, or if they don't have any. We could also do bandwidth limiting and Class Based Queuing based on these marks.

NAT table

This table should only be used for NAT (Network Address Translation) on different packets. In other words, it should only be used to translate the packet's source field or destination field. Note that, as we have said before, only the first packet in a stream will hit this chain. After this, the rest of the packets will automatically have the same action taken on them as the first packet. The actual targets that do these kind of things are:

  • DNAT
  • SNAT

The DNAT target is mainly used in cases where you have a public IP and want to redirect accesses to the firewall to some other host (on a DMZ for example). In other words, we change the destination address of the packet and reroute it to the host.

SNAT is mainly used for changing the source address of packets. For the most part you'll hide your local networks or DMZ, etc. A very good example would be that of a firewall of which we know outside IP address, but need to substitute our local network's IP numbers with that of our firewall. With this target the firewall will automatically SNAT and De-SNAT the packets, hence making it possible to make connections from the LAN to the Internet. If your network uses for example, the packets would never get back from the Internet, because IANA has regulated these networks (among others) as private and only for use in isolated LANs.

The MASQUERADE target is used in exactly the same way as SNAT, but the MASQUERADE target takes a little bit more overhead to compute. The reason for this, is that each time that the MASQUERADE target gets hit by a packet, it automatically checks for the IP address to use, instead of doing as the SNAT target does - just using the single configured IP address. The MASQUERADE target makes it possible to work properly with Dynamic DHCP IP addresses that your ISP might provide for your PPP, PPPoE or SLIP connections to the Internet.

Filter table

The filter table is mainly used for filtering packets. We can match packets and filter them in whatever way we want. This is the place that we actually take action against packets and look at what they contain and DROP or /ACCEPT them, depending on their content. Of course we may also do prior filtering; however, this particular table, is the place for which filtering was designed. Almost all targets are usable in this chain. We will be more prolific about the filter table here; however you now know that this table is the right place to do your main filtering.

The state machine

The state machine is a special part within iptables that should really not be called the state machine at all, since it is really a connection tracking machine. However, most people recognize it under the first name. Throughout this chapter i will use this names more or less as if they were synonymous. This should not be overly confusing. Connection tracking is done to let the Netfilter framework know the state of a specific connection. Firewalls that implement this are generally called stateful firewalls. A stateful firewall is generally much more secure than non-stateful firewalls since it allows us to write much tighter rule-sets.

Within iptables, packets can be related to tracked connections in four different so called states. These are known as NEW, ESTABLISHED, RELATED and INVALID. We will discuss each of these in more depth later. With the --state match we can easily control who or what is allowed to initiate new sessions.

All of the connection tracking is done by special framework within the kernel called conntrack. conntrack may be loaded either as a module, or as an internal part of the kernel itself. Most of the time, we need and want more specific connection tracking than the default conntrack engine can maintain. Because of this, there are also more specific parts of conntrack that handles the TCP, UDP or ICMP protocols among others. These modules grabs specific, unique, information from the packets, so that they may keep track of each stream of data. The information that conntrack gathers is then used to tell conntrack in which state the stream is currently in. For example, UDP streams are, generally, uniquely identified by their destination IP address, source IP address, destination port and source port. In previous kernels, we had the possibility to turn on and off defragmentation. However, since iptables and Netfilter were introduced and connection tracking in particular, this option was gotten rid of. The reason for this is that connection tracking can not work properly without defragmenting packets, and hence defragmenting has been incorporated into conntrack and is carried out automatically. It can not be turned off, except by turning off connection tracking. Defragmentation is always carried out if connection tracking is turned on.

All connection tracking is handled in the PREROUTING chain, except locally generated packets which are handled in the OUTPUT chain. What this means is that iptables will do all recalculation of states and so on within the PREROUTING chain. If we send the initial packet in a stream, the state gets set to NEW within the OUTPUT chain, and when we receive a return packet, the state gets changed in the PREROUTING chain to ESTABLISHED, and so on. If the first packet is not originated by ourself, the NEW state is set within the PREROUTING chain of course. So, all state changes and calculations are done within the PREROUTING and OUTPUT chains of the nat table.

The conntrack entries

Let's take a brief look at a conntrack entry and how to read them in /proc/net/ip_conntrack. This gives a list of all the current entries in your conntrack database. If you have the ip_conntrack module loaded, a cat of /proc/net/ip_conntrack might look like:

tcp      6 117 SYN_SENT src= dst= sport=32775 \
    dport=22 [UNREPLIED] src= dst= sport=22 \
    dport=32775 use=2

This example contains all the information that the conntrack module maintains to know which state a specific connection is in. First of all, we have a protocol, which in this case is tcp. Next, the same value in normal decimal coding. After this, we see how long this conntrack entry has to live. This value is set to 117 seconds right now and is decremented regularly until we see more traffic. This value is then reset to the default value for the specific state that it is in at that relevant point of time. Next comes the actual state that this entry is in at the present point of time. In the above mentioned case we are looking at a packet that is in the SYN_SENT state. The internal value of a connection is slightly different from the ones used externally with iptables. The value SYN_SENT tells us that we are looking at a connection that has only seen a TCP SYN packet in one direction. Next, we see the source IP address, destination IP address, source port and destination port. At this point we see a specific keyword that tells us that we have seen no return traffic for this connection. Lastly, we see what we expect of return packets. The information details the source IP address and destination IP address (which are both inverted, since the packet is to be directed back to us). The same thing goes for the source port and destination port of the connection. These are the values that should be of any interest to us.

The connection tracking entries may take on a series of different values, all specified in the conntrack headers available in linux/include/netfilter-ipv4/ip_conntrack*.h files. These values are dependent on which sub-protocol of IP we use. TCP, UDP or ICMP protocols take specific default values as specified in linux/include/netfilter-ipv4/ip_conntrack.h. We will look closer at this when we look at each of the protocols; however, we will not use them extensively through this chapter, since they are not used outside of the conntrack internals. Also, depending on how this state changes, the default value of the time until the connection is destroyed will also change.

Recently there was a new patch made available in iptables patch-o-matic, called tcp-window-tracking. This patch adds, among other things, all of the above timeouts to special sysctl variables, which means that they can be changed on the fly, while the system is still running. Hence, this makes it unnecessary to recompile the kernel every time you want to change the timeouts. These can be altered via using specific system calls available in the /proc/sys/net/ipv4/netfilter directory. You should in particular look at the /proc/sys/net/ipv4/netfilter/ip_ct_* variables.

When a connection has seen traffic in both directions, the conntrack entry will erase the [UNREPLIED] flag, and then reset it. The entry tells us that the connection has not seen any traffic in both directions, will be replaced by the [ASSURED] flag, to be found close to the end of the entry. The [ASSURED] flag tells us that this connection is assured and that it will not be erased if we reach the maximum possible tracked connections. Thus, connections marked as [ASSURED] will not be erased, contrary to the non assured connections (those not marked as [ASSURED]). How many connections that the connection tracking table can hold depends upon a variable that can be set through the ip-sysctl functions in recent kernels. The default value held by this entry varies heavily depending on how much memory you have. On 128 MB of RAM, you will get 8192 possible entries, and at 256 MB of RAM, you will get 16376 entries. You can read and set your settings through the /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_conntrack_max setting.

User-land states

As you have seen, packets may take on several different states within the kernel itself, depending on what protocol we are talking about. However, outside the kernel, we only have the 4 states as described previously. These states can mainly be used in conjunction with the state match which will then be able to match packets based on their current connection tracking state. The valid states are NEW, ESTABLISHED, RELATED and INVALID states. The following table will briefly explain each possible state

These states can be used together with the --state match to match packets based on their connection tracking state. This is what makes the state machine so incredibly strong and efficient for our firewall. Previously, we often had to open up all ports above 1024 to let all traffic back into our local networks again. With the state machine in place this is not necessary any longer, since we can now just open up the firewall for return traffic and not for all kinds of other traffic.

TCP connections

In this section and the upcoming ones, we will take a closer look at the states and how they are handled for each of the three basic protocols TCP, UDP and ICMP. Also, we will take a closer look at how connections are handled per default, if they can not be classified as either of these three protocols. We have chosen to start out with the TCP protocol since it is a stateful protocol in itself, and has a lot of interesting details with regard to the state machine in iptables.

A TCP connection is always initiated with the 3-way handshake, which establishes and negotiates the actual connection over which data will be sent. The whole session is begun with a SYN packet, then a SYN/ACK packet and finally an ACK packet to acknowledge the whole session establishment. At this point the connection is established and able to start sending data. The big problem is, how does connection tracking hook up into this? Quite simply really.

As far as the user is concerned, connection tracking works basically the same for all connection types. Have a look at the picture below to see exactly what state the stream enters during the different stages of the connection. As you can see, the connection tracking code does not really follow the flow of the TCP connection, from the users viewpoint. Once it has seen one packet(the SYN), it considers the connection as NEW. Once it sees the return packet(SYN/ACK), it considers the connection as ESTABLISHED. If you think about this a second, you will understand why. With this particular implementation, you can allow NEW and ESTABLISHED packets to leave your local network, only allow ESTABLISHED connections back, and that will work perfectly. Conversely, if the connection tracking machine were to consider the whole connection establishment as NEW, we would never really be able to stop outside connections to our local network, since we would have to allow NEW packets back in again. To make things more complicated, there is a number of other internal states that are used for TCP connections inside the kernel, but which are not available for us in User-land. Roughly, they follow the state standards specified within RFC 793 - Transmission Control Protocol at page 21-23.

As you can see, it is really quite simple, seen from the user's point of view. However, looking at the whole construction from the kernel's point of view, it's a little more difficult. Let's look at an example. Consider exactly how the connection states change in the /proc/net/ip_conntrack table. The first state is reported upon receipt of the first SYN packet in a connection.

tcp      6 117 SYN_SENT src= dst= sport=1031 \
    dport=23 [UNREPLIED] src= dst= sport=23 \
    dport=1031 use=1

As you can see from the above entry, we have a precise state in which a SYN packet has been sent, (the SYN_SENT flag is set), and to which as yet no reply has been sent (witness the [UNREPLIED] flag). The next internal state will be reached when we see another packet in the other direction.

tcp      6 57 SYN_RECV src= dst= sport=1031 \
    dport=23 src= dst= sport=23 dport=1031 \

Now we have received a corresponding SYN/ACK in return. As soon as this packet has been received, the state changes once again, this time to SYN_RECV. SYN_RECV tells us that the original SYN was delivered correctly and that the SYN/ACK return packet also got through the firewall properly. Moreover, this connection tracking entry has now seen traffic in both directions and is hence considered as having been replied to. This is not explicit, but rather assumed, as was the [UNREPLIED] flag above. The final step will be reached once we have seen the final ACK in the 3-way handshake.

tcp 6 431999 ESTABLISHED src= dst= \

    sport=1031 dport=23 src= dst= \
    sport=23 dport=1031 use=1

In the last example, we have gotten the final ACK in the 3-way handshake and the connection has entered the ESTABLISHED state, as far as the internal mechanisms of iptables are aware. After a few more packets, the connection will also become [ASSURED], as shown in the introduction section of this chapter. When a TCP connection is closed down, it is done in the following way and takes the following states.

As you can see, the connection is never really closed until the last ACK is sent. Do note that this picture only describes how it is closed down under normal circumstances. A connection may also, for example, be closed by sending a RST(reset), if the connection were to be refused. In this case, the connection would be closed down after a predetermined time.

When the TCP connection has been closed down, the connection enters the TIME_WAIT state, which is per default set to 2 minutes. This is used so that all packets that have gotten out of order can still get through our rule-set, even after the connection has already closed. This is used as a kind of buffer time so that packets that have gotten stuck in one or another congested router can still get to the firewall, or to the other end of the connection.

If the connection is reset by a RST packet, the state is changed to CLOSE. This means that the connection per default have 10 seconds before the whole connection is definitely closed down. RST packets are not acknowledged in any sense, and will break the connection directly. There are also other states than the ones we have told you about so far.

Here is the complete list of possible states that a TCP stream may take, and their timeout values.

These values are most definitely not absolute. They may change with kernel revisions, and they may also be changed via the proc file-system in the /proc/sys/net/ipv4/netfilter/ip_ct_tcp_* variables. The default values should, however, be fairly well established in practice. These values are set in jiffies (or 1/100th parts of seconds), so 3000 means 30 seconds.

Also note that the User-land side of the state machine does not look at TCP flags set in the TCP packets. This is generally bad, since you may want to allow packets in the NEW state to get through the firewall, but when you specify the NEW flag, you will in most cases mean SYN packets.

UDP connections

UDP connections are in them selves not stateful connections, but rather stateless. There are several reasons why, mainly because they don't contain any connection establishment or connection closing; most of all they lack sequencing. Receiving two UDP datagrams in a specific order does not say anything about which order in which they were sent. It is, however, still possible to set states on the connections within the kernel. Let's have a look at how a connection can be tracked and how it might look in conntrack.

As you can see, the connection is brought up almost exactly in the same way as a TCP connection. That is, from the user-land point of view. Internally, conntrack information looks quite a bit different, but intrinsically the details are the same. First of all, let's have a look at the entry after the initial UDP packet has been sent.

udp      17 20 src= dst= sport=137 dport=1025 \
    [UNREPLIED] src= dst= sport=1025 \
    dport=137 use=1

As you can see from the first and second values, this is an UDP packet. The first is the protocol name, and the second is protocol number. This is just the same as for TCP connections. The third value marks how many seconds this state entry has to live. After this, we get the values of the packet that we have seen and the future expectations of packets over this connection reaching us from the initiating packet sender. These are the source, destination, source port and destination port. At this point, the [UNREPLIED] flag tells us that there's so far been no response to the packet. Finally, we get a brief list of the expectations for returning packets. Do note that the latter entries are in reverse order to the first values. The timeout at this point is set to 30 seconds, as per default.

udp      17 170 src= dst= sport=137 \
    dport=1025 src= dst= sport=1025 \
    dport=137 use=1

At this point the server has seen a reply to the first packet sent out and the connection is now considered as ESTABLISHED. This is not shown in the connection tracking, as you can see. The main difference is that the [UNREPLIED] flag has now gone. Moreover, the default timeout has changed to 180 seconds - but in this example that's by now been decremented to 170 seconds - in 10 seconds' time, it will be 160 seconds. There's one thing that's missing, though, and can change a bit, and that is the [ASSURED] flag described above. For the [ASSURED] flag to be set on a tracked connection, there must have been a small amount of traffic over that connection.

udp      17 175 src= dst= sport=1025 \
    dport=53 src= dst= sport=53 \
    dport=1025 [ASSURED] use=1

At this point, the connection has become assured. The connection looks exactly the same as the previous example, except for the [ASSURED] flag. If this connection is not used for 180 seconds, it times out. 180 Seconds is a comparatively low value, but should be sufficient for most use. This value is reset to its full value for each packet that matches the same entry and passes through the firewall, just the same as for all of the internal states.

ICMP connections

ICMP packets are far from a stateful stream, since they are only used for controlling and should never establish any connections. There are four ICMP types that will generate return packets however, and these have 2 different states. These ICMP messages can take the NEW and ESTABLISHED states. The ICMP types we are talking about are Echo request and reply, Timestamp request and reply, Information request and reply and finally Address mask request and reply. Out of these, the timestamp request and information request are obsolete and could most probably just be dropped. However, the Echo messages are used in several setups such as pinging hosts. Address mask requests are not used often, but could be useful at times and worth allowing. To get an idea of how this could look, have a look at the following image.

As you can see in the above picture, the host sends an echo request to the target, which is considered as NEW by the firewall. The target then responds with a echo reply which the firewall considers as state ESTABLISHED. When the first echo request has been seen, the following state entry goes into the ip_conntrack.

icmp     1 25 src= dst= type=8 code=0 \
    id=33029 [UNREPLIED] src= dst= \
    type=0 code=0 id=33029 use=1

This entry looks a little bit different from the standard states for TCP and UDP as you can see. The protocol is there, and the timeout, as well as source and destination addresses. The problem comes after that however. We now have 3 new fields called type, code and id. They are not special in any way, the type field contains the ICMP type and the code field contains the ICMP code. These are all available in ICMP types appendix. The final id field, contains the ICMP ID. Each ICMP packet gets an ID set to it when it is sent, and when the receiver gets the ICMP message, it sets the same ID within the new ICMP message so that the sender will recognize the reply and will be able to connect it with the correct ICMP request.

The next field, we once again recognize as the [UNREPLIED] flag, which we have seen before. Just as before, this flag tells us that we are currently looking at a connection tracking entry that has seen only traffic in one direction. Finally, we see the reply expectation for the reply ICMP packet, which is the inversion of the original source and destination IP addresses. As for the type and code, these are changed to the correct values for the return packet, so an echo request is changed to echo reply and so on. The ICMP ID is preserved from the request packet.

The reply packet is considered as being ESTABLISHED, as we have already explained. However, we can know for sure that after the ICMP reply, there will be absolutely no more legal traffic in the same connection. For this reason, the connection tracking entry is destroyed once the reply has traveled all the way through the Netfilter structure.

In each of the above cases, the request is considered as NEW, while the reply is considered as ESTABLISHED. Let's consider this more closely. When the firewall sees a request packet, it considers it as NEW. When the host sends a reply packet to the request it is considered ESTABLISHED.

Note that this means that the reply packet must match the criterion given by the connection tracking entry to be considered as established, just as with all other traffic types.

ICMP requests has a default timeout of 30 seconds, which you can change in the /proc/sys/net/ipv4/netfilter/ip_ct_icmp_timeout entry. This should in general be a good timeout value, since it will be able to catch most packets in transit.

Another hugely important part of ICMP is the fact that it is used to tell the hosts what happened to specific UDP and TCP connections or connection attempts. For this simple reason, ICMP replies will very often be recognized as RELATED to original connections or connection attempts. A simple example would be the ICMP Host unreachable or ICMP Network unreachable. These should always be spawned back to our host if it attempts an unsuccessful connection to some other host, but the network or host in question could be down, and hence the last router trying to reach the site in question will reply with an ICMP message telling us about it. In this case, the ICMP reply is considered as a RELATED packet. The following picture should explain how it would look.

In the above example, we send out a SYN packet to a specific address. This is considered as a NEW connection by the firewall. However, the network the packet is trying to reach is unreachable, so a router returns a network unreachable ICMP error to us. The connection tracking code can recognize this packet as RELATED. thanks to the already added tracking entry, so the ICMP reply is correctly sent to the client which will then hopefully abort. Meanwhile, the firewall has destroyed the connection tracking entry since it knows this was an error message.

The same behavior as above is experienced with UDP connections if they run into any problem like the above. All ICMP messages sent in reply to UDP connections are considered as RELATED. Consider the following image.

This time an UDP packet is sent to the host. This UDP connection is considered as NEW. However, the network is administratively prohibited by some firewall or router on the way over. Hence, our firewall receives a ICMP Network Prohibited in return. The firewall knows that this ICMP error message is related to the already opened UDP connection and sends it as an RELATED packet to the client. At this point, the firewall destroys the connection tracking entry, and the client receives the ICMP message and should hopefully abort.

Default connections

In certain cases, the conntrack machine does not know how to handle a specific protocol. This happens if it does not know about that protocol in particular, or doesn't know how it works. In these cases, it goes back to a default behavior. The default behavior is used on, for example, NETBLT, MUX and EGP. This behavior looks pretty much the same as the UDP connection tracking. The first packet is considered NEW, and reply traffic and so forth is considered ESTABLISHED.

When the default behavior is used, all of these packets will attain the same default timeout value. This can be set via the /proc/sys/net/ipv4/netfilter/ip_ct_generic_timeout variable. The default value here is 600 seconds, or 10 minutes. Depending on what traffic you are trying to send over a link that uses the default connection tracking behavior, this might need changing. Especially if you are bouncing traffic through satellites and such, which can take a long time.

Complex protocols and connection tracking

Certain protocols are more complex than others. What this means when it comes to connection tracking, is that such protocols may be harder to track correctly. Good examples of these are the ICQ, IRC and FTP protocols. Each and every one of these protocols carries information within the actual data payload of the packets, and hence requires special connection tracking helpers to enable it to function correctly.

Let's take the FTP protocol as the first example. The FTP protocol first opens up a single connection that is called the FTP control session. When we issue commands through this session, other ports are opened to carry the rest of the data related to that specific command. These connections can be done in two ways, either actively or passively. When a connection is done actively, the FTP client sends the server a port and IP address to connect to. After this, the FTP client opens up the port and the server connects to that specified port from its own port 20 (known as FTP-Data) and sends the data over it.

The problem here is that the firewall will not know about these extra connections, since they were negotiated within the actual payload of the protocol data. Because of this, the firewall will be unable to know that it should let the server connect to the client over these specific ports.

The solution to this problem is to add a special helper to the connection tracking module which will scan through the data in the control connection for specific syntaxes and information. When it runs into the correct information, it will add that specific information as RELATED and the server will be able to track the connection, thanks to that RELATED entry. Consider the following picture to understand the states when the FTP server has made the connection back to the client.

Passive FTP works the opposite way. The FTP client tells the server that it wants some specific data, upon which the server replies with an IP address to connect to and at what port. The client will, upon receipt of this data, connect to that specific port, from its own port 20(the FTP-data port), and get the data in question. If you have an FTP server behind your firewall, you will in other words require this module in addition to your standard iptables modules to let clients on the Internet connect to the FTP server properly. The same goes if you are extremely restrictive to your users, and only want to let them reach HTTP and FTP servers on the Internet and block all other ports. Consider the following image and its bearing on Passive FTP.

Some conntrack helpers are already available within the kernel itself. More specifically, the FTP and IRC protocols have conntrack helpers as of writing this. If you can not find the conntrack helpers that you need within the kernel itself, you should have a look at the patch-o-matic tree within user-land iptables. The patch-o-matic tree may contain more conntrack helpers, such as for the ntalk or H.323 protocols.

Conntrack helpers may either be statically compiled into the kernel, or as modules. If they are compiled as modules, you can load them with the following command :

modprobe ip_conntrack_*

Do note that connection tracking has nothing to do with NAT, and hence you may require more modules if you are NAT'ing connections as well. For example, if you were to want to NAT and track FTP connections, you would need the NAT module as well. All NAT helpers starts with ip_nat_ and follow that naming convention; so for example the FTP NAT helper would be named ip_nat_ftp and the IRC module would be named ip_nat_irc. The conntrack helpers follow the same naming convention, and hence the IRC conntrack helper would be named ip_conntrack_irc, while the FTP conntrack helper would be named ip_conntrack_ftp.

How a rule is built

As we have already explained, each rule is a line that the kernel looks at to find out what to do with a packet. If all the criteria - or matches - are met, we perform the target - or jump - instruction. Normally we would write our rules in a syntax that looks something like this:

iptables [-t table] command [match] [target/jump]

There is nothing that says that the target instruction has to be last function in the line. However, you would usually adhere to this syntax to get the best readability. Anyway, most of the rules you'll see are written in this way. Hence, if you read someone else's script, you'll most likely recognize the syntax and easily understand the rule.

If you want to use another table than the standard table, you could insert the table specification at the point at which [table] is specified. However, it is not necessary to state explicitly what table to use, since by default iptables uses the filter table on which to implement all commands. Neither do you have to specify the table at just this point in the rule. It could be set pretty much anywhere along the line. However, it is more or less standard to put the table specification at the beginning.

One thing to think about though: The command should always come first, or alternatively directly after the table specification. We use 'command' to tell the program what to do, for example to insert a rule or to add a rule to the end of the chain, or to delete a rule. We shall take a further look at this below. The match is the part of the rule that we send to the kernel that details the specific character of the packet, what makes it different from all other packets. Here we could specify what IP address the packet comes from, from which network interface, the intended IP address, port, protocol or whatever. There is a heap of different matches that we can use that we will look closer at further down.

Finally we have the target of the packet. If all the matches are met for a packet, we tell the kernel what to do with it. We could, for example, tell the kernel to send the packet to another chain that we've created ourselves, and which is part of this particular table. We could tell the kernel to drop the packet dead and do no further processing, or we could tell the kernel to send a specified reply to the sender. As with the rest of the content in this section, we'll look closer at it further down.


The -t option specifies which table to use. Per default, the filter table is used. We may specify one of the following tables with the -t option. Do note that this is an extremely brief summary


In this section we will cover all the different commands and what can be done with them. The command tells iptables what to do with the rest of the rule that we send to the parser. Normally we would want either to add or delete something in some table or another. The following commands are available to iptables:

You should always enter a complete command line, unless you just want to list the built-in help for iptables or get the version of the command. To get the version, use the -v option and to get the help message, use the -h option. As usual, in other words. Next comes a few options that can be used with various different commands. Note that we tell you with which commands the options can be used and what effect they will have. Also note that we do not include any options here that affect rules or matches. Instead, we'll take a look at matches and targets in a later section of this chapter.

Options :


First of all we have the generic matches, which can be used in all rules. Then we have the TCP matches which can only be applied to TCP packets. We have UDP matches which can only be applied to UDP packets, and ICMP matches which can only be used on ICMP packets. Finally we have special matches, such as the state, owner and limit matches and so on. These final matches have in turn been narrowed down to even more subcategories, even though they might not necessarily be different matches at all.

Generic matches

This section will deal with Generic matches. A generic match is a kind of match that is always available, whatever kind of protocol we are working on, or whatever match extensions we have loaded. No special parameters at all are needed to use these matches; in other words. I have also included the --protocol match here, even though it is more specific to protocol matches. For example, if we want to use a TCP match, we need to use the --protocol match and send TCP as an option to the match. However, --protocol is also a match in itself, since it can be used to match specific protocols. The following matches are always available.

Generic matches

Implicit matches

Those are matches that are loaded implicitly. Implicit matches are implied, taken for granted, automatic. For example when we match on --protocol tcp without any further criteria. There are currently three types of implicit matches for three different protocols. These are TCP matches, UDP matches and ICMP matches. The TCP based matches contain a set of unique criteria that are available only for TCP packets. UDP based matches contain another set of criteria that are available only for UDP packets. And the same thing for ICMP packets. On the other hand, there can be explicit matches that are loaded explicitly. Explicit matches are not implied or automatic, you have to specify them specifically. For these you use the -m or --match option, which we will discuss in the next section.

TCP matches

These matches are protocol specific and are only available when working with TCP packets and streams. To use these matches, you need to specify --protocol tcp on the command line before trying to use them. Note that the --protocol tcp match must be to the left of the protocol specific matches. These matches are loaded implicitly in a sense, just as the UDP and ICMP matches are loaded implicitly. The other matches will be looked over in the continuation of this section, after the TCP match section.

UDP matches

will only work together with UDP packets. These matches are implicitly loaded when you specify the --protocol UDP match and will be available after this specification. Note that UDP packets are not connection oriented, and hence there is no such thing as different flags to set in the packet to give data on what the datagram is supposed to do, such as open or closing a connection, or if they are just simply supposed to send data. UDP packets do not require any kind of acknowledgment either. If they are lost, they are simply lost (Not taking ICMP error messaging etc into account). This means that there are quite a lot less matches to work with on a UDP packet than there is on TCP packets. Note that the state machine will work on all kinds of packets even though UDP or ICMP packets are counted as connectionless protocols. The state machine works pretty much the same on UDP packets as on TCP packets.

ICMP matches

These are the ICMP matches. These packets are even more ephemeral, that is to say short lived, than UDP packets, in the sense that they are connectionless. The ICMP protocol is mainly used for error reporting and for connection controlling and suchlike. ICMP is not a protocol subordinated to the IP protocol, but more of a protocol that augments the IP protocol and helps in handling errors. The headers of ICMP packets are very similar to those of the IP headers, but differ in a number of ways. The main feature of this protocol is the type header, that tells us what the packet is for. One example is, if we try to access an unaccessible IP address, we would normally get an ICMP host unreachable in return. For a complete listing of ICMP types, see the ICMP types appendix. There is only one ICMP specific match available for ICMP packets, and hopefully this should suffice. This match is implicitly loaded when we use the --protocol ICMP match and we get access to it automatically. Note that all the generic matches can also be used, so that among other things we can match on the source and destination addresses.

Explicit matches

Explicit matches are those that have to be specifically loaded with the -m or --match option. State matches, for example, demand the directive -m state prior to entering the actual match that you want to use. Some of these matches may be protocol specific . Some may be unconnected with any specific protocol - for example connection states. These might be NEW (the first packet of an as yet unestablished connection), ESTABLISHED (a connection that is already registered in the kernel), RELATED (a new connection that was created by an older, established one) etc. A few may just have been evolved for testing or experimental purposes, or just to illustrate what iptables is capable of. This in turn means that not all of these matches may at first sight be of any use. Nevertheless, it may well be that you personally will find a use for specific explicit matches. And there are new ones coming along all the time, with each new iptables release. Whether you find a use for them or not depends on your imagination and your needs. The difference between implicitly loaded matches and explicitly loaded ones, is that the implicitly loaded matches will automatically be loaded when, for example, you match on the properties of TCP packets, while explicitly loaded matches will never be loaded automatically - it is up to you to discover and activate explicit matches.

Limit match

The limit match extension must be loaded explicitly with the -m limit option. This match can, for example, be used to advantage to give limited logging of specific rules etc. For example, you could use this to match all packets that does not exceed a given value, and after this value has been exceeded, limit logging of the event in question. Think of a time limit : You could limit how many times a certain rule may be matched in a certain time frame, for example to lessen the effects of DoS syn flood attacks. This is its main usage, but there are more usages, of course. The limit match may also be inverted by adding a ! flag in front of the limit match. It would then be expressed as -m limit ! --limit 5/s.This means that all packets will be matched after they have broken thelimit.

To further explain the limit match, it is basically a token bucket filter. Consider having a leaky bucket where the bucket leaks X packets per time-unit. X is defined depending on how many matching packets we get, so if we get 3 packets, the bucket leaks 3 packets per that time-unit. The --limit option tells us how many packets to refill the bucket with per time-unit, while the --limit-burst option tells us how big the bucket is in the first place. So, setting --limit 3/minute --limit-burst 5, and then receiving 5 matches will empty the bucket. After 20 seconds, the bucket is refilled with another token, and so on until the --limit-burst is reached again or until they get used.

Consider the example below for further explanation of how this may look.

  1. We set a rule with -m limit --limit 5/second --limit-burst 10. The limit-burst token bucket is set to 10 initially. Each packet that matches the rule uses a token.
  2. We get packet that matches, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, all within a 1/1000 of a second.
  3. The token bucket is now empty. Once the token bucket is empty, the packets that qualify for the rule otherwise no longer match the rule and proceed to the next rule if any, or hit the chain policy.
  4. For each 1/5 s without a matching packet, the token count goes up by 1, upto a maximum of 10. 2 seconds after receiving the 10 packets, we will once again have 10 tokens left.
  5. And of course, the bucket will be emptied by 1 token for each packet it receives.

MAC match

The MAC (Ethernet Media Access Control) match can be used to match packets based on their MAC source address. As of writing this documentation, this match is a little bit limited, however, in the future this may be more evolved and may be more useful. This match can be used to match packets on the source MAC address only as previously said.

Do note that to use this module we explicitly load it with the -m mac option. The reason that I am saying this is that a lot of people wonder if it should not be -m mac-source, which it should not.

Mark match

The mark match extension is used to match packets based on the marks they have set. A mark is a special field, only maintained within the kernel, that is associated with the packets as they travel through the computer. Marks may be used by different kernel routines for such tasks as traffic shaping and filtering. As of today, there is only one way of setting a mark in Linux, namely the MARK target in iptables. This was previously done with the FWMARK target in ipchains, and this is why people still refer to FWMARK in advanced routing areas. The mark field is currently set to an unsigned integer, or 4294967296 possible values on a 32 bit system. In other words, you are probably not going to run into this limit for quite some time.

Multiport match

The multiport match extension can be used to specify multiple destination ports and port ranges. Without the possibility this match gives, you would have to use multiple rules of the same type, just to match different ports.

You can not use both standard port matching and multiport matching at the same time, for example you can't write: --sport 1024:63353 -m multiport --dport 21,23,80. This will simply not work. What in fact happens, if you do, is that iptables honors the first element in the rule, and ignores the multiport instruction.

Owner match

The owner match extension is used to match packets based on the identity of the process that created them. The owner can be specified as the process ID either of the user who issued the command in question, that of the group, the process, the session, or that of the command itself. This extension was originally written as an example of what iptables could be used for. The owner match only works within the OUTPUT chain, for obvious reasons: It is pretty much impossible to find out any information about the identity of the instance that sent a packet from the other end, or where there is an intermediate hop to the real destination. Even within the OUTPUT chain it is not very reliable, since certain packets may not have an owner. Notorious packets of that sort are (among other things) the different ICMP responses. ICMP responses will never match.

State match

The state match extension is used in conjunction with the connection tracking code in the kernel. The state match accesses the connection tracking state of the packets from the conntracking machine. This allows us to know in what state the connection is, and works for pretty much all protocols, including stateless protocols such as ICMP and UDP. In all cases, there will be a default timeout for the connection and it will then be dropped from the connection tracking database. This match needs to be loaded explicitly by adding a -m state statement to the rule. You will then have access to one new match called state.

TOS match

The TOS match can be used to match packets based on their TOS field. TOS stands for Type Of Service, consists of 8 bits, and is located in the IP header. This match is loaded explicitly by adding -m tos to the rule. TOS is normally used to inform intermediate hosts of the precedence of the stream and its content (it doesn't really, but it informs of any specific requirements for the stream, such as it having to be sent as fast as possible, or it needing to be able to send as much payload as possible). How different routers and administrators deal with these values depends. Most do not care at all, while others try their best to do something good with the packets in question and the data they provide.

TTL match

The TTL match is used to match packets based on their TTL (Time To Live) field residing in the IP headers. The TTL field contains 8 bits of data and is decremented once every time it is processed by an intermediate host between the client and recipient host. If the TTL reaches 0, an ICMP type 11 code 0 (TTL equals 0 during transit) or code 1 (TTL equals 0 during reassembly) is transmitted to the party sending the packet and informing it of the problem. This match is only used to match packets based on their TTL, and not to change anything. The latter, incidentally, applies to all kinds of matches. To load this match, you need to add an -m ttl to the rule.


The target/jumps tells the rule what to do with a packet that is a perfect match with the match section of the rule. There are a couple of basic targets, the ACCEPT and DROP targets, which we will deal with first. However, before we do that, let us have a brief look at how a jump is done.

The jump specification is done in exactly the same way as in the target definition, except that it requires a chain within the same table to jump to. To jump to a specific chain, it is of course a prerequisite that that chain exists. As we have already explained, a user-defined chain is created with the -N command. For example, let's say we create a chain in the filter table called tcp_packets, like this: iptables -N tcp_packets

We could then add a jump target to it like this:

iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -j tcp_packets

We would then jump from the INPUT chain to the tcp_packets chain and start traversing that chain. When/If we reach the end of that chain, we get dropped back to the INPUT chain and the packet starts traversing from the rule one step below where it jumped to the other chain (tcp_packets in this case). If a packet is ACCEPTed within one of the sub chains, it will be ACCEPT'ed in the superset chain also and it will not traverse any of the superset chains any further. However, do note that the packet will traverse all other chains in the other tables in a normal fashion.

Targets on the other hand specify an action to take on the packet in question. We could for example, DROP or ACCEPT the packet depending on what we want to do. There are also a number of other actions we may want to take, which we will describe further on in this section. Jumping to targets may incur different results, as it were. Some targets will cause the packet to stop traversing that specific chain and superior chains as described above. Good examples of such rules are DROP and ACCEPT. Rules that are stopped, will not pass through any of the rules further on in the chain or in superior chains. Other targets, may take an action on the packet, after which the packet will continue passing through the rest of the rules. A good example of this would be the LOG, ULOG and TOS targets. These targets can log the packets, mangle them and then pass them on to the other rules in the same set of chains. We might, for example,


Mail & News

Detailed Objective

Weight: 1

Description: Install and maintain mailing lists. Monitor and resolve problems by viewing the logs.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • Install, configure and manipulate mailing lists
    • Mailman configuration files, terms and utilities
    • Majordomo configuration files, terms and utilities
    • Ezmlm configuration files, terms and utilities
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • Not applicable

Configuring mailing lists

Majordomo is a mailing list management program. Its goal is to handle all incoming mails to a particular email address, and re-distribute them to a list of email addresses. Majordomo also handles adding and deleting an email address from its lists.

Since Majordomo is responsible for managing E-mail lists, Majordomo relies heavily on a MTA such as Sendmail, Smail, Qmail or Postfix.

aliases file (usually /etc/aliases) is used for making aliases for E-mail addresses. For example, once Majordomo is installed, usually an entry in the aliases file reads:

majordomo-owner: jarchie

This entry means that all mail addressed to majordomo-owner@host.com will actually be sent to jarchie@host.com. Notice it is unnecessary to append the @host.com to jarchie because both users are on the same host. If it were desired to redirect the message to a different user on a different host, one would have to add the @host.com portion.

Another type of entry in the aliases file allows E-mail to be redirected to multiple addresses listed in a file:

testlist: :include:/usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/lists/testlist

This entry states that any message sent to testlist@host.com will be redirected to all the addresses listed in the file /usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/lists/testlist. The testlist file might look something like this:


Majordomo is able to add or remove addresses from a list by taking advantage of this feature. When a subscribe request is processed, the user's E-mail address is appended to the testlist file; when an unsubscribe request is processed, the user's E-mail address is removed from the testlist file. One can also add or remove addresses manually simply by editing the file with a text editor such as vi.

Since Majordomo needs to be able to process commands sent to it via E-mail, Sendmail must be able to execute the Majordomo program and pass the message to it. This is done by adding another type of entry to the aliases file:

majordomo:  "|/usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/wrapper majordomo"

The program /usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/wrapper is a wrapper (SUID and SGID majordomo or daemon depending on the configuration) that runs the Majordomo program. The quotation marks around the second part of the alias entry are used to tell Sendmail that this part of the entry is all one statement; the quotation marks would be unnecessary if there were not a space between wrapper and majordomo. The | is known as a "pipe"; it is used to tell Sendmail to send the E-mail to the wrapper via the standard input. (Since all the wrapper does here is to call majordomo, the E-mail is actually being sent to Majordomo.) The wrapper accepts one parameter--the parameter of the program it is supposed to execute. (Any parameters after the first will be passed to the program the wrapper is executing.) For security reasons, the wrapper only executes programs located in the Majordomo directory, /usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/. This restriction prevents a programmer from using the wrapper to run programs that should not have Majordomo privileges. (i.e, wrapper /bin/vi would allow any user to edit any Majordomo configuration file.) When a message is sent to majordomo@host.com, Sendmail starts up the wrapper which, in turn, starts up majordomo, and Sendmail sends the message to the majordomo script via the standard input. Majordomo then extracts the commands out of the message and responds appropriately.

Majordomo is, of course, the piece of code that this document revolves around; it consists of a collection of Perl scripts with the sole purpose of managing mailing lists.

Majordomo must run under a specific UID and GID so when any of the scripts are run, they will run under Majordomo's UID. Thus, it is necessary to decide what UID and GID Majordomo should run under. Also, Majordomo must be a Sendmail trusted user

Check the /etc/passwd and /etc/group files to find a UID and GID that are not taken. For this example, a UID of 16 and a GID of 16 was chosen. You have to decide on the location where the Majordomo scripts will reside. If you are using a shadowed password file, add entries similar to

majordomo:x:16:16:Majordomo List Manager:/usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5:

to your /etc/passwd and add an appropriate entry to /etc/shadow.


Use the other entries in these files as a guide for exactly what should be added. These are only the values for my system. If you are not using shadowed passwords, only an entry in the /etc/passwd file is necessary.

To create a Majordomo group, add a line similar to


to your /etc/group file. Appending your username to the end of the line will give you access to the Majordomo files that are group writable.

The Makefile contains all the information needed to install Majordomo; it is usually necessary to edit lines in the Makefile that refer to system specific settings so Majordomo will be able to install cleanly on your system. Most of the default settings are correct; however, the following settings, almost invariably, need to be changed on a per system basis.

PERL = /bin/perl
CC = cc
W_HOME = /usr/test/majordomo-$(VERSION)
MAN = $(W_HOME)/man
W_USER = 123
W_GROUP = 45

should be changed to something more appropriate for your system. For example, in my setup, the values were changed to

PERL = /usr/bin/perl
CC = gcc
W_HOME = /usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5
MAN = /usr/man
W_USER = 16
W_GROUP = 16

Also the majordomo.cf file must be created. An easy way to create this file is to copy the provided sample.cf file to majordomo.cf and edit it.

Again, most of the settings are correct by default, but the following lines might need to be changed for your system from :

$whereami = "example.com";
$whoami = "Majordomo\@$whereami";
$whoami_owner = "Majordomo-Owner\@$whereami";
$homedir = "/usr/test/majordomo";
$digest_work_dir = "/usr/local/mail/digest";
$sendmail_command = "/usr/lib/sendmail";

to something more appropriate such as

$whereami = "kes.emeraldis.com";
$whoami = "majordomo\@$whereami";
$whoami_owner = "majordomo-owner\@$whereami";
$homedir = "/usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5";
$digest_work_dir = "/usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/digest";
$sendmail_command = "/usr/sbin/sendmail";

$whoami and $whoami_owner do not need to be changed for Majordomo to work; however, I changed them because I like to avoid typing capital letters. $digest_work_dir is a temporary directory where digest files should be placed; this directory should be assigned to wherever you want digests to be stored. If you do not plan to use digested lists, do not worry about this option. $whereami, $homedir, and $sendmail_command should be changed to appropriate values for your system. Unlike the Makefile, these options can always be changed after Majordomo is installed by editing majordomo.cf in the directory where Majordomo was installed. (The configuration file is simply copied during setup.)

The next step is to compile the Majordomo wrapper. The wrapper is the only Majordomo component that needs to be compiled because everything else is a collection of perl scripts and, therefore, is not compiled.

$ make wrapper

To install the Majordomo files, execute the commands

# make install
# make install-wrapper

The first command can be done as the Majordomo user (assuming majordomo can create or has access to $home_dir), but the second command needs to be done as root so the installation script can SUID root the Majordomo wrapper. (Since, majordomo was created without a login shell or password, if you want to execute the first command as majordomo, you will need to su majordomo as root in order to become majordomo.)

Sendmail aliases must be created for Majordomo so commands sent to Majordomo can be processed by majordomo, and an alias for the Majordomo owner must be created so people can E-mail you through the standard owner-majordomo address. Add the following entries to your aliases file :

majordomo:       "|/usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/wrapper majordomo"
owner-majordomo: jarchie
majordomo-owner: jarchie

Then test your configuration, as a regular user (not as majordomo or as root), run :

$ /usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/wrapper config-test

This program can detect most problems in the Majordomo installation.

To create a list, create a file with the name of the list in the Majordomo lists directory. For example, to create a list called test, create a test file as Majordomo :

[root@kes /]# su majordomo
[majordomo@kes /]$ touch /usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/lists/test

and add the related aliases :

test:        :include:/usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/lists/test
owner-test:    jarchie
test-request:  "|/usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/wrapper request-answer test"
test-approval: jarchie

Now test the operation of the list by issuing a lists command to Majordomo :

[jarchie@kes jarchie]$ echo lists | mail majordomo

It should only take a second for majordomo to reply with a message containing all the lists which are currently set up. Next, try issuing a help command.

[jarchie@kes jarchie]$ echo help | mail majordomo

Majordomo should reply with a list of all commands that Majordomo accepts. It might be a good idea to save the message for future reference.

To see if the aliases are working properly, try subscribing and unsubscribing yourself to the list :

[jarchie@kes jarchie]$ echo subscribe test | mail majordomo

You will receive an E-mail message containing instructions on how to confirm your subscription as well as a letter confirming that your command was successful. After sending back your confirmation, Majordomo should send back two letters--one letter stating that your subscribe request was successful and another letter welcoming you to the test list. The owner of the list will also be sent a message stating that you have subscribed to the list.

To unsubscribe from a list, send a unsubscribe command

[jarchie@kes jarchie]$ echo unsubscribe test | mail majordomo

You should be sent back a letter stating that your command was successful.

For some lists, it may be desirable to have Majordomo process messages before they reach the list. For example, Majordomo has the resend script to automatically filter messages based on content (such as taboo words), to prevent people from sending Majordomo commands to the list, and other features. To use these options, it is necessary to use a better set of aliases such as :

test:        "|/usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/wrapper resend -l test test-list"
test-list:   :include:/usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/lists/test
owner-test:  jarchie
test-owner:  jarchie
test-request:  "|/usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/wrapper majordomo -l test"

The last entry allows someone simply to send a message to test-request@kes.emeraldis.com with the text subscribe rather than sending a letter to majordomo@kes.emeraldis.com with the text subscribe test. Also, note that if sendmail is using smrsh, the above aliases should reference the copy of the wrapper in the safe path--usually /etc/smrsh/wrapper.

It is common for Majordomo's permissions to be set incorrectly causing Majordomo to work improperly. Fortunately, Sendmail and Majordomo typically, give decent error messages indicating a problem. For example, the lists directory must be executable by the user sendmail setuids to, typically mail or daemon. If sendmail cannot execute lists, the permissions must be loosened.

[root@kes root]# chmod +x /usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/lists

Another common problem is caused by the lists directory being group writable. To solve this problem, one can ether clear the group writable bit, or use the sendmail option IncludeFileInGroupWritableDirPath

Majordomo is intended to run on a isolated system; there are a couple of well-known security holes in the scripts that allow any local user capable of executing wrapper to execute code as the majordomo user. If Majordomo must be run on a system providing users with shell access, then it is advisable to tighten up permissions on the wrapper. This can be done by clearing the world executable bit and chgrping the wrapper to the user that needs to run the Majordomo scripts. For example, if Sendmail and MajorCool are both being used to execute the wrapper use the commands

[root@kes root]# cp /usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/wrapper /etc/smrsh/wrapper
[root@kes root]# chmod 4750 /usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/wrapper
[root@kes root]# chown root:nobody /usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/wrapper
[root@kes root]# chmod 4750 /etc/smrsh/wrapper
[root@kes root]# chown root:mail /etc/smrsh/wrapper

to secure the system. This will allow sendmail (while running under mail) to execute /etc/smrsh/wrapper while allowing the webserver's MajorCool (running under nobody) to execute /usr/local/majordomo-1.94.5/wrapper. This solution, however, will allow anyone with the UID or GID of mail or nobody to also obtain access to the majordomo account. To protect the nobody account, it is important not to allow normal users to make use of server side includes or cgi scripts unless those services do not run under nobody.

Key terms, files and utilities : Majordomo MTA


Detailed Objectives (211.1)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 4

Description: Candidates should be able to manage an email server, including the configuration of e-mail aliases, e-mail quotas and virtual e-mail domains. This objective includes configuring internal e-mail relays and monitoring e-mail servers.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Configuration files for postfix.
  • Basic TLS configuration for postfix
  • Basic knowledge of the SMTP protocol
  • Awareness of sendmail and exim

Terms and Utilities:

  • Configuration files and commands for postfix
  • /etc/postfix/
  • /var/spool/postfix/
  • sendmail emulation layer commands
  • /etc/aliases
  • mail-related logs in /var/log/

Using Sendmail


Using Postfix

Postfix is written and maintained by Wietse Venema who has also written tcp_wrappers, and Satan. Postfix began its life as VMailer but Wietse has released the software under the IBM GPL and IBM's lawyers discovered that VMailer was too similar to an existing trade mark so the name had to be changed. Postfix is written as a drop in replacement for sendmail and it comes very close to hitting the mark on this. There are a few ?gotchas? which can bite you but they are not serious. Wietse actively supports Postfix through the postfix-users mailing list and there is also a developers mailing list. You can subscribe to the postfix-users mailing list this way:

echo subscribe postfix-users | mail majordomo@postfix.org.

You can subscribe to the developers list in this way:

echo subscribe postfix-testers | mail majordomo@postfix.org.

One last list we should mention is the announce list. You can join the announce list in this way: echo subscribe postfix-announce | mail majordomo@postfix.org. Postfix development is on-going and these mailing lists are quite active as of this writing. Archives for the mailing lists may be found at: http://www.egroups.com/group/postfix-users/ and at: http://msgs.SecurePoint.com/postfix/.

When a message enters the Postfix mail system, the first stop on the inside is the incoming queue. The figure below shows the main components that are involved with new mail.

The figure shows the main Postfix system components, and the main information flows between them. Yellow ellipsoids are mail programs, Yellow boxes are mail queues or files. Blue boxes are lookup tables.

Programs in the large box run under control by the Postfix resident master daemon. Data in the large box is property of the Postfix mail system.

Mail is posted locally. The Postfix sendmail program invokes the privileged postdrop program which deposits the message into the maildrop directory, where the message is picked up by the pickup daemon. This daemon does some sanity checks, in order to protect the rest of the Postfix system.

Mail comes in via the network. The Postfix SMTP server receives the message and does some sanity checks, in order to protect the rest of the Postfix system. The SMTP server can be configured to implement UCE controls on the basis of local or network-based black lists, DNS lookups, and other client request information. Mail is generated internally by the Postfix system itself, in order to return undeliverable mail to the sender. The bounce or defer daemon brings the bad news.

Mail is forwarded by the local delivery agent, either via an entry in the system-wide alias database, or via an entry in a per-user .forward file. This is indicated with the unlabeled arrow.

Mail is generated internally by the Postfix system itself, in order to notify the postmaster of a problem (this path is also indicated with the unlabeled arrow). The Postfix system can be configured to notify the postmaster of SMTP protocol problems, UCE policy violations, and so on.

The cleanup daemon implements the final processing stage for new mail. It adds missing From: and other message headers, arranges for address rewriting to the standard user@fully.qualified.domain form, and optionally extracts recipient addresses from message headers. The cleanup daemon inserts the result as a single queue file into the incoming queue, and notifies the queue manager of the arrival of new mail. The cleanup daemon can be configured to transform addresses on the basis of canonical and virtual table lookups.

On request by the cleanup daemon, the trivial-rewrite daemon rewrites addresses to the standard user@fully.qualified.domain form. The initial Postfix version does not implement a rewriting language. Implementing one would take a lot of effort, and most sites do not need it. Instead, Postfix makes extensive use of table lookup.

The primary configuration file for Postfix (the working equivalent to /etc/sendmail.cf) is main.cf. The install.cf file contains the initial settings for Postfix which were set up during the RPM installation. The file master.cf is Postfix' master process configuration file. Each line in the master file describes how a mailer component program should be run. In the debugging section we will talk some more about this file. The postfix-script is a wrapper used by Postfix to execute Postfix commands safely for the Linux environment. Let's take a closer look at the install.cf file as this file contains some data which we will need when we start to configure Postfix with main.cf.

The install.cf file is really just a list of the default settings used by the installation program built into the RPM.

Here is the main.cf file with comments by Wietse Venema and our suggested changes interspersed throughout :

  # Global Postfix configuration file. This file lists only a subset
  # of all 100+ parameters. See the sample-xxx.cf files for a full list.
  # The sample files mentioned above are located in /usr/doc/postfix-19990906_pl06/
  # The general format is lines with parameter = value pairs. Lines
  # that begin with whitespace continue the previous line. A value can
  # contain references to other $names or ${name}s.
  # The queue_directory specifies the location of the Postfix queue.
  # This is also the root directory of Postfix daemons that run chrooted.
  # See the files in examples/chroot-setup for setting up Postfix chroot
  # environments on different UNIX systems.
  queue_directory = /var/spool/postfix

This is the same directory that sendmail uses for the incoming mail queue.

  # The program_directory parameter specifies the default location of
  # Postfix support programs and daemons. This setting can be overruled
  # with the command_directory and daemon_directory parameters.
  program_directory = /some/where/postfix/bin

The line above must be corrected. The RPM installs the Postfix binaries into /usr/libexec/postfix by default.

  # The command_directory parameter specifies the location of all
  # postXXX commands.  The default value is $program_directory.
  command_directory = /usr/sbin

The line above is correct and may be left as is.

  # The daemon_directory parameter specifies the location of all Postfix
  # daemon programs (i.e. programs listed in the master.cf file). The
  # default value is $program_directory. This directory must be owned
  # by root.
  daemon_directory = /usr/libexec/postfix

The line above is correct and may be left as is.

  # The mail_owner parameter specifies the owner of the Postfix queue
  # and of most Postfix daemon processes.  Specify the name of a user
  # don't specify nobody or daemon. PLEASE USE A DEDICATED USER.
  mail_owner = postfix

The line above is correct and may be left as is.

  # The default_privs parameter specifies the default rights used by
  # the local delivery agent for delivery to external file or command.
  # These rights are used in the absence of a recipient user context.
  #default_privs = nobody

The line above is correct and may be left as is but it should be uncommented (e.g. Remove the leading pound sign).

  # The myhostname parameter specifies the Internet hostname of this
  # mail system. The default is to use the fully-qualified domain name
  # from gethostname(). $myhostname is used as a default value for many
  # other configuration parameters.
  #myhostname = host.domain.name

Set the value in the line above to the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) for you machine. E.g. if your hostname is turkey and your domain is trot.com then your FQDN would be ?turkey.trot.com?. You will also need to uncomment this line.

  #myhostname = virtual.domain.name

The line above is redundant for most configurations and can usually be left commented.

  # The mydomain parameter specifies the local Internet domain name.
  # The default is to use $myhostname minus the first component.
  # $mydomain is used as a default value for many other configuration
  # parameters.
  #mydomain = domain.name

The line above should be your domain name only without the hostname prepended to the front of it. As in the example we gave above the correct value here would be trot.com. Don't forget to uncomment the line as well.

  # The myorigin parameter specifies the domain that locally-posted
  # mail appears to come from. The default is to append $myhostname,
  # which is fine for small sites.  If you run a domain with multiple
  # machines, you should (1) change this to $mydomain and (2) set up
  # a domain-wide alias database that aliases each user to
  # user@that.users.mailhost.
  #myorigin = $myhostname
  #myorigin = $mydomain

The instructions here are pretty good. Typically what's done here is to let this default to $mydomain. Be sure to uncomment your choice.

  # The inet_interfaces parameter specifies the network interface
  # addresses that this mail system receives mail on.  By default,
  # the software claims all active interfaces on the machine. The
  # parameter also controls delivery of mail to user@[ip.address].
  #inet_interfaces = all

Once again the instructions here are good. Just uncomment the above listed line and you should be fine. Unless you have some odd requirement the next two entries can be left commented. You shouldn't need them.

  #inet_interfaces = $myhostname
  #inet_interfaces = $myhostname, localhost
  # The mydestination parameter specifies the list of domains that this
  # machine considers itself the final destination for.
  # The default is $myhostname + localhost.$mydomain.  On a mail domain
  # gateway, you should also include $mydomain. Do not specify the
  # names of domains that this machine is backup MX host for. Specify
  # those names via the relay_domains or permit_mx_backup settings for
  # the SMTP server (see sample-smtpd.cf.
  # The local machine is always the final destination for mail addressed
  # to user@[the.net.work.address] of an interface that the mail system
  # receives mail on (see the inet_interfaces parameter).
  # Specify a list of host or domain names, /file/name or type:table
  # patterns, separated by commas and/or whitespace. A /file/name
  # pattern is replaced by its contents; a type:table is matched when
  # a name matches a lookup key.  Continue long lines by starting the
  # next line with whitespace.
  #mydestination = $myhostname, localhost.$mydomain
  #mydestination = $myhostname, localhost.$mydomain $mydomain

The most common practice is to select the line immediately above as your choice here. Be sure to uncomment it and put a comma between the last two entries as it appears to have been omitted.

  #mydestination = $myhostname, localhost.$mydomain, $mydomain,
  #       mail.$mydomain, www.$mydomain, ftp.$mydomain
  # The relayhost parameter specifies the default host to send mail to
  # when no entry is matched in the optional transport(5) table. When
  # no relayhost is given, mail is routed directly to the destination.
  # On an intranet, specify the organizational domain name. If your
  # internal DNS uses no MX records, specify the name of the intranet
  # gateway host instead.
  # Specify a domain, host, host:port, [address] or [address:port].
  # Use the form [destination] to turn off MX lookups. See also the
  # default_transport parameter if you're connected via UUCP.
  #relayhost = $mydomain
  #relayhost = gateway.my.domain
  #relayhost = uucphost
  #relayhost = [mail.$mydomain:9999]

If you are behind some sort of a firewall or you need to masquerade the envelope (which will be covered later in this document) you would set the ?relayhost? value to the MTA for your domain. If this host is to be *the* MTA for the domain then leave all of these commented out.

  # The default_transport parameter specifies the default message
  # delivery transport to use when no transport is explicitly given in
  # the optional transport(5) table.
  #default_transport = smtp

In most cases the above line would be uncommented and left as is.

  #default_transport = uucp
  # Insert text from sample-rewrite.cf if you need to do address
  # masquerading.
  # Insert text from sample-canonical.cf if you need to do address
  # rewriting, or if you need username->Firstname.Lastname mapping.
  # Insert text from sample-virtual.cf if you need virtual domain support.
  # Insert text from sample-relocated.cf if you need "user has moved"
  # style bounce messages. Alternatively, you can bounce recipients
  # with an SMTP server access table. See sample-smtpd.cf.
  # Insert text from sample-transport.cf if you need explicit routing.
  # The alias_maps parameter specifies the list of alias databases used
  # by the local delivery agent. The default list is system dependent.
  # On systems with NIS, the default is to search the local alias
  # database, then the NIS alias database. See aliases(5) for syntax
  # details.
  # If you change the alias database, run "postalias /etc/aliases" (or
  # wherever your system stores the mail alias file), or simply run
  # "newaliases" to build the necessary DBM or DB file.
  # It will take a minute or so before changes become visible.  Use
  # "postfix reload" to eliminate the delay.
  #alias_maps = dbm:/etc/aliases
  alias_maps = hash:/etc/aliases

The alias_maps line is pointing at the /etc/aliases file which we preserved prior to removing sendmail. Best practice (recommended) usually prefers that all the Postfix config files be kept together so it might be a good idea to change this line to read:

  alias_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/aliases

and also make sure that you put the aliases file in /etc/postfix. Otherwise Postfix will complain on startup and fail to run. The default db type on Red Hat Linux is hash so be sure and use it as we have here. One common error which people have is when they use dbm instead of hash. Don't fall into that trap.

  #alias_maps = hash:/etc/aliases, nis:mail.aliases
  #alias_maps = netinfo:/aliases
  # The alias_database parameter specifies the alias database(s) that
  # are built with "newaliases" or "sendmail -bi".  This is a separate
  # configuration parameter, because alias_maps (see above) may specify
  # tables that are not necessarily all under control by Postfix.
  #alias_database = dbm:/etc/aliases
  #alias_database = dbm:/etc/mail/aliases
  #alias_database = hash:/etc/aliases

As the instructions say if you want to use the newaliases command to handle the aliases file (recommended) you should uncomment the above line but be sure (if you made the path change we recommended in the alias_maps section) and change it to read:

  alias_database = hash:/etc/postfix/aliases

Then be sure to uncomment the line and run the newaliases command before starting Postfix.

   #alias_database = hash:/etc/aliases, hash:/opt/majordomo/aliases

If you happen to run majordomo then you should use the line above instead of just the aliases line. Be sure the path to the file majordomo is correct. The best practice convention is to put it into /etc/postfix. Most Red Hat Linux sendmail installations would have had it in /etc/mail/. We will discuss this a bit more when we get to the listserv section of this document.

  # The prepend_delivered_header controls when Postfix should prepend
  # a Delivered-To: message header.
  # By default, Postfix prepends a Delivered-To: header when forwarding
  # mail and when delivering to file (mailbox) or command.  Turning off
  # the Delivered-To: header when forwarding mail is not recommended.
  # prepend_delivered_header = command, file, forward
  # prepend_delivered_header = forward

The defaults will work fine so you can leave this section commented out unless you have some special need or preference.

  # ADDRESS EXTENSIONS (e.g., user+foo)
  # The recipient_delimiter parameter specifies the separator between
  # user names and address extensions (user+foo). See canonical(5),
  # local(8), relocated(5) and virtual(5) for the effects this has on
  # aliases, canonical, virtual, relocated and .forward file lookups.
  # Basically, the software tries user+foo and .forward+foo before
  # trying user and .forward.
  # recipient_delimiter = +

This one can be left commented out also, unless you have some special need or preference.

  # The home_mailbox parameter specifies the optional pathname of a
  # mailbox relative to a user's home directory. The default is to
  # deliver to the UNIX-style /var/spool/mail/user or /var/mail/user.
  # Specify "Maildir/" for qmail-style delivery (the / is required).
  #home_mailbox = Mailbox
  #home_mailbox = Maildir/

On Red Hat Linux systems you should leave this alone unless you know what you're doing. If you're converting from qmail to Postfix (doubtful) then it would probably be useful.

  # The mail_spool_directory parameter specifies the directory where
  # UNIX-style mailboxes are kept. The default setting depends on the
  # system type.
  # mail_spool_directory = /var/mail
  # mail_spool_directory = /var/spool/mail

The previous line is correct for Red Hat Linux defaults so it should be uncommented and left as is.

  # The mailbox_command parameter specifies the optional external
  # command to use instead of mailbox delivery. The command is run as
  # the recipient with proper HOME, SHELL and LOGNAME environment settings.
  # Exception:  delivery for root is done as $default_user.
  # Other environment variables of interest: USER (recipient username),
  # EXTENSION (address extension), DOMAIN (domain part of address),
  # and LOCAL (the address localpart).
  # Unlike other Postfix configuration parameters, the mailbox_command
  # parameter is not subjected to $parameter substitutions. This is to
  # make it easier to specify shell syntax (see example below).
  # Avoid shell meta characters because they will force Postfix to run
  # an expensive shell process. Procmail alone is expensive enough.
  #mailbox_command = /some/where/procmail

The default MDA on Red Hat Linux systems is procmail. You can use the command ?which procmail? to verify the path but unless you've changed procmail's location it is located in ?/usr/bin/procmail?. Don't forget to uncomment the line.

  #mailbox_command = /some/where/procmail -a "$EXTENSION"
  # The mailbox_transport specifies the optional transport in master.cf
  # to use after processing aliases and .forward files. This parameter
  # has precedence over the mailbox_command, fallback_transport and
  # luser_relay parameters.
  #mailbox_transport = cyrus

On a default Red Hat Linux system you should leave the above line alone.

  # The fallback_transport specifies the optional transport in master.cf
  # to use for recipients that are not found in the UNIX passwd database.
  # This parameter has precedence over the luser_relay parameter.
  #fallback_transport =

On a default Red Hat Linux system you should leave the above line alone.

  # The luser_relay parameter specifies an optional destination address
  # for unknown recipients.  By default, mail for unknown local recipients
  # is bounced.
  # The following expansions are done on luser_relay: $user (recipient
  # username), $shell (recipient shell), $home (recipient home directory),
  # $recipient (full recipient address), $extension (recipient address
  # extension), $domain (recipient domain), $local (entire recipient
  # localpart), $recipient_delimiter. Specify ${name?value} or
  # ${name:value} to expand value only when $name does (does not) exist.
  # luser_relay = $user@other.host
  # luser_relay = $local@other.host
  # luser_relay = admin+$local

It's your choice what you do here but it can be quite annoying to receive a bazillion bounces a day. Leave this alone (recommended).

  # The controls listed here are only a very small subset. See the file
  # sample-smtpd.cf for an elaborate list of anti-UCE controls.
  # The header_checks parameter restricts what may appear in message
  # headers. This requires that POSIX or PCRE regular expression support
  # is built-in. Specify "/^header-name: stuff you do not want/ REJECT"
  # in the pattern file. Patterns are case-insensitive by default. Note:
  # specify only patterns ending in REJECT. Patterns ending in OK are
  # mostly a waste of cycles.
  #header_checks = regexp:/etc/postfix/filename
  #header_checks = pcre:/etc/postfix/filename

The above section enables a filter which you can use to detect and ?bounce? mail which matches a certain regular expression (REGEXP). The difference between using procmail and regexp or PCRE is that these two catch the mail prior to delivery and can effectively block unwanted mail at the SMTP port.

  # The relay_domains parameter restricts what domains (and subdomains
  # thereof) this mail system will relay mail from or to.  See the
  # smtpd_recipient_restrictions restriction in the file sample-smtpd.cf.
  # By default, Postfix relays mail only from or to sites in or below
  # $mydestination, or in the optional virtual domain list.
  # Specify a list of hosts or domains, /file/name patterns or type:name
  # lookup tables, separated by commas and/or whitespace.  Continue
  # long lines by starting the next line with whitespace. A file name
  # is replaced by its contents; a type:name table is matched when a
  # (parent) domain appears as lookup key.
  # NOTE: Postfix will not automatically forward mail for domains that
  # list this system as their primary or backup MX host. See the
  # permit_mx_backup restriction in the file sample-smtpd.cf.
  #relay_domains = $mydestination, $virtual_maps

For anyone who knows already how MX records work this is a critical component in the Postfix configuration. Home users probably won't need this line but anyone who handles mail for mutiple domains will.

Here's a sample of how it can be used:

   relay_domains = $mydestination, /etc/postfix/relay-domains

In this example the domains you want to relay for would be placed in the file /etc/postfix/relay-domains. One to a line like so:


Note: this file is *not* hashed or mapped. It is a simple text file. You can also use IP addresses instead of names.

  # The mynetworks parameter specifies the list of networks that are
  # local to this machine.  The list is used by the anti-UCE software
  # to distinguish local clients from strangers. See permit_mynetworks
  # and smtpd_recipient_restrictions in the file sample-smtpd.cf file.
  # The default is a list of all networks attached to the machine:  a
  # complete class A network (X.0.0.0/8), a complete class B network
  # (X.X.0.0/16), and so on. If you want stricter control, specify a
  # list of network/mask patterns, where the mask specifies the number
  # of bits in the network part of a host address. You can also specify
  # the absolute pathname of a pattern file instead of listing the
  # patterns here.
  #mynetworks =,

The line above is another critical component in the configuration of Postfix. As the instructions say it specifies the list of networks that are local to this host. For those unfamiliar with the syntax used, it's called Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR) or supernetting. For those familiar with the network classes (A, B, C etc.) it is a way of dividing IP addresses up without reference to class.

  #mynetworks = $config_directory/mynetworks
  # The smtpd_banner parameter specifies the text that follows the 220
  # status code in the SMTP greeting banner. Some people like to see
  # the mail version advertised. By default, Postfix shows no version.
  # You MUST specify the $myhostname at the start of the text. When
  # the SMTP client sees its own hostname at the start of an SMTP
  # greeting banner it will report a mailer loop. That's better than
  # having a machine meltdown.
  #smtpd_banner = $myhostname ESMTP $mail_name
  #smtpd_banner = $myhostname ESMTP $mail_name ($mail_version)

The above config entry is a matter of personal preference. It is not required and is up to the administrator to choose.

  # How many parallel deliveries to the same user or domain? With local
  # delivery, it does not make sense to do massively parallel delivery
  # to the same user, because mailbox updates must happen sequentially,
  # and expensive pipelines in .forward files can cause disasters when
  # too many are run at the same time. With SMTP deliveries, 10
  # simultaneous connections to the same domain could be sufficient to
  # raise eyebrows.
  # Each message delivery transport has its XXX_destination_concurrency_limit
  # parameter.  The default is $default_destination_concurrency_limit.
  local_destination_concurrency_limit = 2
  default_destination_concurrency_limit = 10

As the text above says this section is really about rate limiting. It is, essentially, the gas pedal for Postfix. Unless you have some really good reason to change these the defaults should be fine. Once you've run Postfix for a while (particularly those who use it in a professional setting) you may have a better idea of how this should be set for your environment.

  # The debug_peer_level parameter specifies the increment in verbose
  # logging level when an SMTP client or server host name or address
  # matches a pattern in the debug_peer_list parameter.
  debug_peer_level = 2

We recommend the default here unless there is some overriding reason to change this. Debugging will be covered in a later chapter of this document. For what it's worth this section has no real relevance unless the next is enabled.

  # The debug_peer_list parameter specifies an optional list of domain
  # or network patterns, /file/name patterns or type:name tables. When
  # an SMTP client or server host name or address matches a pattern,
  # increase the verbose logging level by the amount specified in the
  # debug_peer_level parameter.
  # debug_peer_list =
  # debug_peer_list = some.domain

This section is used in combination with debug_peer_level so if that's not enabled then this one is moot. This is actually a very neat feature of Postfix. Think about it for a minut. If everything works fine but there is this one host which seems to have problem receiving or sending mail to or from your host then you could use this feature to increase the logging level for just that host.

  # The debugger_command specifies the external command that is executed
  # when a Postfix daemon program is run with the -D option.
  # Use "command .. & sleep 5" so that the debugger can attach before
  # the process marches on. If you use an X-based debugger, be sure to
  # set up your XAUTHORITY environment variable before starting Postfix.
  debugger_command =
           xxgdb $daemon_directory/$process_name $process_id & sleep 5

Leave this section alone for now. We will cover debugging in some detail in a later section of this document. That's it. We've made it through the main.cf file and we're almost ready to start it up.


The master daemon is a supervisory application which controls and monitors all of the other Postfix processes. The master.cf file is the master daemon's configuration file. The master.cf file is the throttle for Postfix. Here you set all of the daemon process count limits. A good example of a useful limit would be to set a limit on the number of SMTP processes which can be executed simultaneously, after all, you might not want to receive 50 messages inbound all at the same time. The key thing to understand here is that any process without an express limit defaults to a 50 process limit.

In general terms the master.cf file is fine with the defaults as they are so you can leave it alone.


This is simply the default aliases file and it could be exactly the same one you used with sendmail (recommended) and it works the same way it always has with the newaliases command. If you use majordomo your majordomo aliases will work the same way they always have and they will work with the newaliases command as well.

Control of the postfix server is done through the init.d scripts Don't forget to issue a postfix reload command after changing the configuration ! If you modify the aliases database (/etc/aliases), don't forget to activate the changes by issueing a newaliases command (as with sendmail)

Key terms, files and utilities : /etc/aliases /etc/postfix/main.cf /etc/postfix/master.cf /var/spool/postfix


Detailed Objective

Weight: 3

Description: Candidates should be able to implement client email management software to filter, sort and monitor incoming user email.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • procmail configuration files, tools and utilities
    • Usage of procmail on both server and client side
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • ~/.procmail
    • /etc/procmailrc
    • procmail

Managing mail traffic

procmail is the mail processing utility language written by Stephen van den Berg of Germany. This article provides a bit of background for the intermediate Unix user on how to use procmail. As a "little" language (to use the academic term) procmail lacks many of the features and constructs of traditional, general-purpose languages. It has no "while" or "for" loops. However it "knows" a lot about Unix mail delivery conventions and file/directory permissions -- and in particular about file locking. Although it is possible to write a custom mail filtering script in any programming language using the facilities installed on most Unix systems -- we'll show that procmail is the tool of choice among sysadmins and advanced Unix users.

Unix mail systems consist of MTA's (mail transport agents like sendmail, smail, qmail mmdf etc), MDA's (delivery agents like sendmail, deliver, and procmail), and MUA's (user agents like elm, pine, /bin/mail, mh, Eudora, and Pegasus).

On most Unix systems on the Internet sendmail is used as an integrated transport and delivery agent. sendmail and compatible MTA's have the ability to dispatch mail *through* a custom filter or program through either of two mechanisms: aliases and .forwards.

The aliases mechanism uses a single file (usually /etc/aliases or /usr/lib/aliases) to redirect mail. This file is owned and maintained by the system administrator. Therefore you (as a user) can't modify it. The ".forward" mechanism is decentralized. Each user on a system can create a file in their home directory named .forward and consisting of an address, a filename, or a program (filter). Usually the file *must* be owned by the user or root and *must not* be "writeable" by other users (good versions of sendmail check these factors for security reasons).

It's also possible, with some versions of sendmail, for you to specify multiple addresses, programs, or files, separated with commas. However we'll skip the details of that. Managing mail trafic

You could forward your mail through any arbitrary program with a .forward that consisted of a line like:

"|$HOME/bin/your.program -and some arguments"

Note the quotes and the "pipe" character. They are required. "Your.program" could be a Bourne shell script, an awk or perl script, a compiled C program or any other sort of filter you wanted to write.

However "your.program" would have to be written to handle a plethora of details about how sendmail would pass the messages (headers and body) to it, how you would return values to sendmail, how you'd handle file locking (in case mail came in while "your.program" was still processing one, etc). That's what procmail gives us.

What we have seen so far is general information that applies to all sendmail compatible MTA/MDA's. Managing mail traffic

So, to ensure that mail is passed to procmail for processing the first step is to create the .forward file. (This is safe to do before you do any configuration of procmail itself -- assuming that the package's binaries are installed). Here's the canonical example, pasted from the procmail man pages:

"|IFS=' '&&exec /usr/local/bin/procmail -f-||exit 75 #YOUR_USERNAME"

If you did this and nothing else your mail would basically be unaffected. procmail would just look for its default recipe file (.procmailrc) and finding none -- it would perform its default action on each messages. In other words it would append new messages into your normal spool file.

You can setup procmail system-wide as local delivery agent in sendmail/postfix. When this is done, you can skip the whole part of about using the .forward file -- or you can use it anyway. For instance in sendmail this can be done by changing sendmail.mc with the following:

dnl # MAILER(`local')dnl <- comment this one out with dnl

In postfix this can be done according to the postfix FAQ. Basically it is just editing /etc/postfix/main.cf with the following and reloading postfix.

mailbox_command = /path/to/procmail

In either event the next step to automating your mail handling is to create a .procmailrc file in your home directory. You could actually call this file anything you wanted -- but then you'd have to slip the name explicitly into the .forward file (right before the "||" operator). Almost everyone just uses the default.

So far all we've talked about it how everything gets routed to procmail -- which mostly involves sendmail and the Bourne shell's syntax. Almost all sendmails are configured to use /bin/sh (the Bourne shell) to interpret alias and .forward "pipes."

So, here's a very simple .procmailrc file:


This just appends an extra copy of all incoming mail to a file named "mail.backup" in your home directory. Note that a bunch of environment variables are preset for you. It's been suggested that you should explicitly set SHELL=/bin/sh (or the closest derivative to Bourne Shell available on your system). I've never had to worry about that since the shells I use on most systems are already Bourne compatible.

However, csh and other shell users should take note that all of the procmail recipe examples that I've ever seen use Bourne syntax.

The :0 line marks the beginning of a "recipe" (procedure, clause, whatever. :0 can be followed be any of a number of "flags." There is a literally dizzying number of ways to combine these flags. The one flag we're using in this example is 'c' for "copy."

The second colon on this line marks the end of the flags and the beginning of the name for a lockfile. Since no name is given procmail will pick one automatically.

This bit is a little complicated. Mail might arrive in bursts. If a new message arrives while your script is still busy processing the last message -- you'll have multiple sendmail processes. Each will be dealing with one message. This isn't a problem by itself. However -- if the two processes might try to write into one file at the same time they are likely to get jumbled in unpredictable ways (the result will not be a properly formatted mail folder).

So we hint to procmail that it will need the check for and create a lockfile. In this particular case we don't care what the name of the lock file would be (since we're not going to have *other* programs writing into the backup file). So we leave the last field (after the colon) blank. procmail will then select its own lockfile name.

If we leave the : off of the recipe header line (omitting the last field entirely) then no lockfile is used. This is appropriate whenever we intend to only read from the files in the recipe -- or in cases where we intend to only write short, single line entries to a file in no particular order (like log file entries). The way procmail works is:

It receives a single message from sendmail (or some sendmail compatible MTA/MDA). There may be several procmail processing running currently since new messages may be coming in faster than they are being processed. It opens its recipe file (.procmailrc by default or specified on its command line) and parses each recipe from the first to the last until a message has been "delivered" (or "disposed of" as the case may be).

Any recipe can be a "disposition" or "delivery" of the message. As soon as a message is "delivered" then procmail closes its files, removes its locks and exits.

If procmail reaches the end of it's rc file (and thus all of the INCLUDE'd files) without "disposing" of the message -- than the message is appended to your spool file (which looks like a normal delivery to you and all of your "mail user agents" like Eudora, elm, etc).

This explains why procmail is so forgiving if you have *no* .procmailrc. It simply delivers your message to the spool because it has reached the end of all its recipes (there were none). The 'c' flag causes a recipe to work on a "copy" of the message -- meaning that any actions taken by that recipe are not considered to be "dispositions" of the message.

Without the 'c' flag this recipe would catch all incoming messages, and all your mail would end up in mail.backup. None of it would get into your spool file and none of the other recipes would be parsed.

The next line in this sample recipe is simply a filename. Like sendmail's aliases and .forward files -- procmail recognizes three sorts of disposition to any message. You can append it to a file, forward it to some other mail address, or filter it through a program.

Actually there is one special form of "delivery" or "disposition" that procmail handles. If you provide it with a directory name (rather than a filename) it will add the message to that directory as a separate file. The name of that file will be based on several rather complicated factors that you don't have to worry about unless you use the Rand MH system, or some other relatively obscure and "exotic" mail agent.

A procmail recipe generally consists of three parts -- a start line (:0 with some flags) some conditions (lines starting with a '*' -- asterisk -- character) and one "delivery" line which can be file/directory name or a line starting with a '!' -- bang -- character or a '|' -- pipe character.

Here's another example:

* ^From.*someone.i.dont.like@somewhere.org

This is a simple one consisting of no flags, one condition and a simple file delivery. It simply throws away any mail from "someone I don't like." (/dev/null under Unix is a "bit bucket" -- a bottomless well for tossing unwanted output DOS has a similar concept but it's not nearly as handy).

Here's a more complex one:

* !^X-Loop: myaddress@myhost.mydomain.org
| $HOME/bin/my.script

This consists of a set of negative conditions (notice that the conditions all start with the '!' character). This means: for any mail that didn't come from a "daemon" (some automated process) and didn't come a "mailer" (some other automated process) and which doesn't contain any header line of the form: "X-Loop: myadd..." send it through the script in my bin directory.

I can put the script directly in the rc file (which is what most procmail users do most of the time). This script might do anything to the mail. In this case -- whatever it does had better be good because procmail way will consider any such mail to be delivered and any recipes after this will only be reached by mail from DAEMONs, MAILERs and any mail with that particular X-Loop: line in the header.

These two particular FROM_ conditions are actually "special." They are preset by procmail and actually refer to a couple of rather complicated regular expressions that are tailored to match the sorts of things that are found in the headers of most mail from daemons and mailers.

The X-Loop: line is a normal procmail condition. In the RFC822 document (which defines what e-mail headers should look like on the Internet) any line started with X- is a "custom" header. This means that any mail program that wants to can add pretty much any X- line it wants.

A common procmail idiom is to add an X-Loop: line to the header of any message that we send out -- and to check for our own X-Loop: line before sending out anything. This is to protect against "mail loops" -- situations where our mail gets forwarded or "bounced" back to us and we endlessly respond to it.

So, here's a detailed example of how to use procmail to automatically respond to mail from a particular person. We start with the recipe header.


... then we add our one condition (that the mail appears to be from the person in question):

* ^FROMharasser@spamhome.com

FROM is a "magic" value for procmail -- it checks from, resent-by, and similar header lines. You could also use ^From: -- which would only match the header line(s) that start with the string "From:"

The ^ (hiccup or, more technically "caret") is a "regular expression anchor" (a techie phrase that means "it specifies *where* the pattern must be found in order to match." There is a whole book on regular expression (O'Reilly & Associates). "regexes" permeate many Unix utilities, scripting languages, and other programs. There are slight differences in "regex" syntax for each application. However the man page for 'grep' or 'egrep' is an excellent place to learn more.

In this case the hiccup means that the pattern must occur at the beginning of a line (which is its usual meaning in grep, ed/sed, awk, and other contexts).

... and we add a couple of conditions to avoid looping and to avoid responding to automated systems


(These are a couple more "magic" values. The man pages show the exact regexes that are assigned to these keywords -- if you're curious or need to tweak a special condition that is similar to one or the other of these).

... and one more to prevent some tricky loop:

* !^X-Loop: myaddress@myhost.mydomain.org

(All of these patterns start with "bangs" (exclamation points) because the condition is that *no* line of the header start with any of these patterns. The 'bang' in this case (and most other regex contexts) "negates" or "reverses" the meaning of the pattern).

... now we add a "disposition" -- the autoresponse.

| (formail -rk \
-A "X-Loop: yourname@youraddress.com" \
-A "Precedence: junk"; \
echo "Please don't send me any more mail";\
echo "This is an automated response";\
echo "I'll never see your message";\
echo "So, GO AWAY" ) | $SENDMAIL -t -oi 

This is pretty complicated -- but here's how it works: The | character tells procmail that it should launch a program and feed the message to it. The open parenthesis is a Bourne shell construct that groups a set of commands in such a way as to combine the output from all of them into one "stream."

The 'formail' command is a handy program that is included with the procmail package. It "formats" mail headers according to its command line switches and its input. -rk tells 'formail' to format a "reply" and to "keep" the message body. With these switches formail expects a header and body as input.

The -A parameters tells formail to "add" the next parameter as a header line. The parameters provided to the -A switch must be enclosed in quotes so the shell treats the whole string (spaces and all) as single parameters. The backslashes at the end of each line tell procmail mail to treat the next line as part of this one. So, all of the lines ending in backslashes are passed to the shell as one long line.

This "trailing backslash" or "line continuation" character is a common Unix idiom found in a number of programming languages and configuration file formats. The semicolons tell the shell to execute another command -- they allow several commands to be issued on the same command line.

Each of the echo commands should be reasonably self-explanatory. We could have used a 'cat' command and put our text into a file if we wanted. We can also call other programs here -- like 'fortune' or 'date' and their output would be combined with the rest of this).

Now we get to the closing parenthesis. This marks the end of the block of commands that we combined. The output from all of those is fed into the next pipe -- which starts the local copy of sendmail (note that this is another variable that procmail thoughtfully presets for us).

The -t switch on sendmail tell it to take the "To:" address from the header of it's input (where 'formail -r' put it) and the -oi switch enables the sendmail "option" to "ignore" lines that consist only of a 'dot' (don't worry about the details on that).

Most of the difficulty in understanding procmail as nothing to do with procmail itself. The intricacies of regular expressions (those weird things on the '*' -- conditional lines) and shell quoting and command syntax, and how to format a reply header that will be acceptable to sendmail (the 'formail' and 'sendmail' stuff) are the parts that require so much explanation.

More information about procmail can be found in Era Eriksson's "Mini-FAQ." at http://www.iki.fi/~era/procmail/mini-faq.html or one of the several mirrors like http://www.zer0.org/procmail/mini-faq.html http://www.dcs.ed.ac.uk/home/procmail/faq/mini-faq.html

Key terms, files and utilities : Procmail .procmailrc


Detailed Objective

Weight: 1

Description: Candidates should be able to install and configure news servers. This objective includes customising and monitoring served newsgroups.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • INN configuration files, terms and utilities
    • Leafnode configuration files, terms and utilities
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • innd
    • fetnchnews

Serving news

The INND daemon is one of the most used news server program It provides Network News Transport Protocol (NNTP) service. Major newsgroups include: alt,comp,gnu,misc,news,rec,sci,soc, and talk. Newsgroups are configured in a hierarchical fashion. INND by default uses the NNTP port TCP 119

Configuration :

Location of configuration files is /etc/news/. A minimal leafnode setup requires that you modify the following files:

inn.conf :

Set the following options. The defaults for the remaining options should be fine.

organization:   MyOrganization
domain:         mydomain.com
server:         news.mydomain.com
incoming.conf :

Place your ISP's news server information in here.

# Peer definition
# MyISP.com  (800) 555-1212 news@MyISP.com
peer myisp.com {
   hostname:  news.myisp.com


If you want to post articles, you need to modify newsfeeds. news.myisp.com:comp.*,!comp.sources.*,comp.sources.unix/!foo:Tf,Wnm:news.myisp.com The colon is the field delimiter used above. The format of that above line is: sitename[/exclude,exclude,...]:pattern,pattern,...[/distrib,distrib,..]:flag,flag,...:param


Names the site to which this feed relates. It can be called anything you want and does not have to be the domain name of the site.
Indicates which news groups are to be sent to this site. The default is to send all groups (leave it blank if that's what you want). The above example will cause all "comp" groups to be received, but not any group under "comp.sources" except for "comp.sources.unix".
If specified, and an article has a "Distribution" header, it is check against this value. If the distribution specified matches the distribution header in the article, it is sent. However, if the distribution specified starts with an exclamation point, and the distribution header in the article matches, it is not sent. In the above example, any article with a distribution header containing "foo" will not be sent.
Specify various options about the newsfeed. The above options specify that this is a file feed type (Tf), and that only articles "message-id" and "token" (Wmn) should be written.

param - Meaning varies depending on the feed type. When the feed type is "file" as in the example above, it specifies the file to write an entry to when an article is received. If not an absolute path, it is relative to the "pathoutgoing" option in inn.conf.

readers.conf : Edit this file if you want to allow readers on other computers. motd.news : if you allow readers, it is a good idea to put a banner in this file that relays your usage policies to your readers.

Run inncheck to correct any permissions problems and catch any configuration file errors. Run makehistory to initialize the INN history database. Run makedbz to rebuild the dbz database files. Run innd and test with a news client


innd won't start Use inncheck. Check logs under /var/log/news. Readers can't read : Verify that the reader is allowed access by checking nnrp.access. Make sure innd is running. Check logs under /var/log/news. telnet to port 119 and see if a banner comes up. Posters can't post : Confirm poster is allowed to post by checking nnrp.access. Check logs under /var/log/news. telnet to port 119 and see if a banner comes up with (posting allowed).

Key terms, files and utilities : Innd



Detailed Objectives (207.1)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 3

Description: Candidates should be able to configure BIND to function as a caching-only DNS server. This objective includes the ability to manage a running server and configuring logging.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • BIND 9.x configuration files, terms and utilities.
  • Defining the location of the BIND zone files in BIND configuration files.
  • Reloading modified configuration and zone files.
  • Awareness of dnsmasq, djbdns and PowerDNS as alternate name servers.

The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:

  • /etc/named.conf
  • /var/named/
  • /usr/sbin/rndc
  • kill
  • host
  • dig

Basic BIND 8 configuration

Setting up a caching-only nameserver

To speed up the cumbersome process of DNS queries, DNS servers usually cache answers from other DNS servers – even negative queries (i.e an authoritative server's answer « name does not exist » is also cached by your local DNS)

Configuring BIND as a caching-only nameserver involves setting up only a « . » zone, that is, only tell it about the root nameservers and not specifying any zones, as follows :

zone « . » in {
type hint;
file « named.cache »;

The file named.cache can be generated by using dig @a.root-servers.net

Logging in BIND is controlled by two main concepts : channels and categories A channel specifies where logged data goes : to syslog, to a file, etc... A category specifies what data is logged

Channels allows you to filter messages by priority, like syslog's priorities. They are essentially the same, but two more are available for BIND : debug and dynamic, which affect debug level logging Debug sets a debug level, which will be active after the first trace command is given via ndc; dynamic will increment and decrement debug levels after each trace command is given via ndc

Example of logging configuration:

logging {
channel my_syslog {
syslog daemon;
severity info;
channel my_file {
file « log.msgs »;
severity dynamic;
category statistics { my_syslog; my_file; };
category queries { my_file; };

To activate logging, after bind is started, issue a command :

ndc trace

Key terms, files and utilities : /etc/named.conf /usr/sbin/ndc /usr/sbin/named-bootconf Kill


Detailed Objectives

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 3

Description: Candidates should be able to create a zone file for a forward or reverse zone or root level server. This objective includes setting appropriate values for records, adding hosts in zones and adding zones to the DNS. A candidate should also be able to delegate zones to another DNS server.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • BIND 9.x configuration files, terms and utilities.
  • Utilities to request information from the DNS server.
  • Layout, content and file location of the BIND zone files.
  • Various methods to add a new host in the zone files, including reverse zones.

Terms and Utilities:

  • /var/named/
  • zone file syntax
  • resource record formats
  • named-checkzone
  • named-compilezone
  • dig
  • nslookup
  • host

Create and maintain DNS zones

DNS zone files are composed mostly by resources records (RR) Resource records must start in the first column of a line The order in which they appear is not important, but most people tend to follow the order in the DNS RFCs SOA (Start Of Authority) : indicates authority for this zone NS (NameServer) : lists a nameserver for this zone Other records :

A : name-to-address mapping PTR : address-to-name mapping CNAME (canonical name) : aliases Don't forget to create a zone for 127.0.0 ! Create and maintain DNS zones Usual zone file format :

$TTL <ttl value>
<domain name>. IN SOA <nameserver name>. <user.email>. (
<serial>;  serial number
<refresh>; refresh value
<retry>;  retry value
<expire>;  expire value
<n-ttl>;  negative caching TTL of 1 day
<domain name>.  IN  NS  <authoritative NS name>.
<domain name>.  IN  NS  <authoritative NS name>.
<hostname>.  IN  A  <IP address>
<hostname>.  IN  A  <IP address>

Create and maintain DNS zones For reverse mappings : $TTL <ttl value> <reverse net addr>.in-addr.arpa. IN SOA <NS name>. <user.email>. ( <serial>; serial number <refresh>; refresh value <retry>; retry value <expire>; expire value <n-ttl>; negative caching TTL of 1 day <rev net addr>.in-addr.arpa. IN NS <authoritative NS name>. <rev net addr>.in-addr.arpa. IN NS <authoritative NS name>. ... <rev IP addr>.in-addr.arpa. IN PTR <fqdn>. <rev IP addr>.in-addr.arpa. IN PTR <fqdn>. ...

Key terms, files and utilities : Content of /var/named Zone file syntax Resources record formats Dig Nslookup Host


Detailed Objectives (207.3)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 3

Description: Candidates should be able to configure a DNS server to run as a non-root user and run in a chroot jail. This objective includes secure exchange of data between DNS servers.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • BIND 9 configuration files
  • Configuring BIND to run in a chroot jail
  • Split configuration of BIND using the forwarders statement
  • Configuring and using transaction signatures (TSIG)
  • Awareness of DNSSEC and basic tools
  • Awareness of DANE and related records

Terms and Utilities:

  • /etc/named.conf
  • /etc/passwd
  • dnssec-keygen
  • dnssec-signzone

Securing a DNS server

First of all, check security mailing lists and web sites for new versions of BIND. Particularly, versions prior to 8.2.3 are vulnerable to known attacks.

Hide your version number from foreign queries – it could be used to craft a special attack against you. Since BIND 8.2, you may use in named.conf:

options {
version « None of your business »;

You can also restrict queries : Globally :

options {
allow-query { address-match-list; };

Or per-zone (which take precedence over global ACLs) :

zone « test.com » {
type slave;
file « db.test »;
allow-query {; };

Even more important, make sure only real slave DNS can transfer your zones from your master. Use the keyword allow-transfer : Globally (in an « options » statement), applies to all zones Per-zone On the slaves, disable zone transfers! Use « allow-transfer { none; }; »

Don't run BIND as root ! Since 8.1.2, there are options to change the user (-u ) and group (-g) under which BIND runs. Use a non-privileged user (i.e. create a new one, without shell access). Make sure your zone files have their correct permission (named.conf is read while BIND is still under root's permissions, so don't change this file's permissions)

Also, run bind in a chroot jail. Since 8.1.2, there is option -t to specify the directory for the nameserver to chroot() to. Make sure all the files needed by BIND (i.e log files, etc..) are under the root-jail If you plan to use ndc with a chroot'ed BIND, don't forget to pass the new pathname to the UNIX socket to ndc !

Here's a little bit on how to setup a chrooted bind9 environment in Debian. As the configuration in bind9 is very similar, the same procedure applies to bind8 for creating a chrooted environment.

  • Stop the currently running bind.
/etc/init.d/bind9 stop
  • In order to chroot bind in a jail, we need to specify what environment in /etc/default/bind9:
OPTIONS="-u bind -t /var/lib/named"
  • We still want logging in our /var/log/syslog, so we change /etc/default/syslogd that it opens an extra socket to which the chrooted bind can log through into /var/log/syslog.
SYSLOGD="-a /var/lib/named/dev/log"
  • Run a couple of mkdir's for the environment
mkdir /var/lib/named
mkdir -p /var/lib/named/var/run/bind/run
mkdir /var/lib/named/etc
mkdir /var/lib/named/dev
mkdir /var/lib/named/var/cache 
  • Move over our existing config
mv /etc/bind /var/lib/named/etc/bind
  • Link it
ln -s /var/lib/named/etc/bind /etc/bind
  • Change ownership in the chrooted var and etc
chown -R bind:bind /var/lib/named/var/* 
chown -R bind:bind /var/lib/named/etc/bind
  • Create some devices & set permissions
mknod /var/lib/named/dev/null c 1 3
mknod /var/lib/named/dev/random c 1 8
chown 666 /var/lib/named/dev/random /var/lib/named/dev/null
  • Restart syslogd & start bind
/etc/init.d/sysklogd restart
/etc/init.d/bind9 start

If bind does not start and there are error messages in the syslog, keep in mind that these messages where created from inside the chrooted domain, hence a permission problem about /var/run/bind/run/named.pid would mean that it is really a problem about /var/lib/named/var/run/bind/run/named.pid

Key terms, files and utilities : SysV init files /etc/named.conf /etc/passwd


Web Services

208.1 Implementing a Web server

Detailed Objectives (208.1)

(LPIC-1 Version 4.5)

Weight: 4

Description: Candidates should be able to install and configure a web server. This objective includes monitoring the servers load and performance, restricting client user access, configuring support for scripting languages as modules and setting up client user authentication. Also included is configuring server options to restrict usage of resources. Candidates should be able to configure a web server to use virtual hosts and customize file access.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Apache 2.4 configuration files, terms and utilities.
  • Apache log files configuration and content.
  • Access restriction methods and files.
  • mod_perl and PHP configuration.
  • Client user authentication files and utilities.
  • Configuration of maximum requests, minimum and maximum servers and clients.
  • Apache 2.4 virtual host implementation (with and without dedicated IP addresses).
  • Using redirect statements in Apache’s configuration files to customize file access.

Terms and Utilities:

  • access logs and error logs
  • .htaccess
  • httpd.conf
  • mod_auth_basic, mod_authz_host, mod_access_compat
  • htpasswd
  • AuthUserFile, AuthGroupFile
  • apachectl, apache2ctl
  • httpd, apache2


Apache is the most used web server on the Internet,[1] and the "poster child" for successful open source development. While a web server itself don't need to be particularly fancy (many programming languages have tutorials how to write a HTTP server) Apaches "secret of success" is its flexibility and robustness. Apache can be easily extended by various modules, mod_perl and mod_auth will be featured in this section.

Installation and Configuration

The Apache HTTP server in its most recent version (2.2 as of writing this) can be downloaded in source code from the Apache HTTP Server Website, or pre compiled as binary package from the repository of your favorite Linux distribution.

For the rest of this section we will refer to the Apache documentation for file names. This documentation is usually installed with the Apache binary inside the DocumentRoot. If we cannot reach the local documentation, there still is the official documentation from the Apache Website. We will use a virtual network with Slackware 13.0 inside VirtualBox, which is free (as in cost) and available Free (as in Freedom) with small restrictions. Distribution specific summaries for Debian Lenny and a clone of Redhat Enterprise, Centos 5.4 will follow below.

If we want to compile Apache from source, we use the usual configure, make, make install steps. For further details please refer to the documentation page.

The web server binary httpd itself is usually located in /usr/sbin/. We can use the binary directly to start and stop the web server through command line options, but a better idea is to use the control script apachectl to interface with the httpd. apachectl can control the web server process (start and stop) in a convenient way and sets up the environment and checks the configuration file in the background. Back in the days of the transition from Apache 1.3 to the Apache 2.x series the control script was called apache2ctl to tell it apart from the Apache 1.3 script (then) apachectl.

It is unfortunate that the LPI still refers to apache2ctl while the Apache source code produces apachectl.

[root@lpislack ~]# apachectl
Usage: /usr/sbin/httpd [-D name] [-d directory] [-f file]
                       [-C "directive"] [-c "directive"]
                       [-k start|restart|graceful|graceful-stop|stop]
                       [-v] [-V] [-h] [-l] [-L] [-t] [-S]
  -D name            : define a name for use in <IfDefine name> directives
  -d directory       : specify an alternate initial ServerRoot
  -f file            : specify an alternate ServerConfigFile
  -C "directive"     : process directive before reading config files
  -c "directive"     : process directive after reading config files
  -e level           : show startup errors of level (see LogLevel)
  -E file            : log startup errors to file
  -v                 : show version number
  -V                 : show compile settings
  -h                 : list available command line options (this page)
  -l                 : list compiled in modules
  -L                 : list available configuration directives
  -t -D DUMP_VHOSTS  : show parsed settings (currently only vhost settings)
  -S                 : a synonym for -t -D DUMP_VHOSTS
  -t -D DUMP_MODULES : show all loaded modules
  -M                 : a synonym for -t -D DUMP_MODULES
  -t                 : run syntax check for config files

Hmmm. This does not look right, because if apachectl encounters parameters it does not understand, it passes them directly to httpd. And no parameter is such a parameter, so apachectl invokes httpd without any parameter.

apachectl can start, stop and restart the web server, but even more useful is gracefull and gracefull-stop which restarts/stops the web server while not stopping currently open connections. configtest does the same as httpd -t in testing the apache configuration file. The options status and fullstatus need the mod_status module to display many useful status informations about our http server.

The logs for your Apache instance go to /var/log/httpd/. The two most important log files are access_log, which logs every access to the web server and error_log which only records errors. Tools like Awstats and Webalizer use the access_log to generate their reports.

A snippet of access_log shows (taken from the Debian Lenny machine lpidebian) the IP accessing / on the website, which is the “welcome” page of the web server (more on this later), then trying to GET /favicon.ico and then /login.html which both result in a “404”, which means “File does not exist”. - - [02/Jun/2009:17:06:01 -0400] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 56 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/2009042315 Firefox/3.0.10" - - [02/Jun/2009:17:17:12 -0400] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404 300 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/2009042315 Firefox/3.0.10" - - [05/Jun/2009:16:41:39 -0400] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 56 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Konqueror/3.5; Linux KHTML/3.5.10 (like Gecko)" - - [05/Jun/2009:16:41:39 -0400] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404 300 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Konqueror/3.5; Linux KHTML/3.5.10 (like Gecko)" - - [05/Jun/2009:16:41:50 -0400] "GET /login.html HTTP/1.1" 404 299 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Konqueror/3.5; Linux KHTML/3.5.10 (like Gecko)"

This snippet from error_log shows the same errors but in greater detail:

[Fri Jun 05 13:41:10 2009] [notice] mod_python: using mutex_directory /tmp
[Fri Jun 05 13:41:11 2009] [notice] Apache/2.2.9 (Debian) PHP/5.2.6-1+lenny3 with Suhosin-Patch mod_python/3.3.1 Python/2.5.2 mod_perl/2.0.4 Perl/v5.10.0 configured -- resuming normal operations
[Fri Jun 05 16:41:39 2009] [error] [client] File does not exist: /var/www/favicon.ico
[Fri Jun 05 16:41:50 2009] [error] [client] File does not exist: /var/www/login.html

The configuration of Apache takes place in /etc/httpd/httpd.conf. This lengthy, but well documented, configuration file is in part structured similar to a HTML page. To strip out any comments you can easily use grep.

root@lpislack:~# grep -v ^# /etc/httpd/httpd.conf | grep -v ^$ | grep -v "^    #"
ServerRoot "/usr"
Listen 80
LoadModule auth_basic_module lib/httpd/modules/mod_auth_basic.so
LoadModule auth_digest_module lib/httpd/modules/mod_auth_digest.so
LoadModule log_config_module lib/httpd/modules/mod_log_config.so
LoadModule userdir_module lib/httpd/modules/mod_userdir.so
LoadModule alias_module lib/httpd/modules/mod_alias.so
LoadModule rewrite_module lib/httpd/modules/mod_rewrite.so
User apache
Group apache
ServerAdmin webadmin@your.site
DocumentRoot "/srv/httpd/htdocs"
<Directory />
    Options FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride None
    Order deny,allow
    Deny from all
<Directory "/srv/httpd/htdocs">
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride None
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
DirectoryIndex index.html
ErrorLog "/var/log/httpd/error_log"
LogLevel warn
LogFormat "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-Agent}i\"" combined
CustomLog "/var/log/httpd/access_log" common
ScriptAlias /cgi-bin/ "/srv/httpd/cgi-bin/"
<Directory "/srv/httpd/cgi-bin">
    AllowOverride None
    Options None
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
DefaultType text/plain
TypesConfig /etc/httpd/mime.types

This slightly striped down httpd.conf is taken from a Slackware 13.0 system (lpislack. There are two terms to know when talking about httpd.conf: "directives" and "containers". "Directives" are the configuration options (and their values) themselves, while "containers" are directories or collections of files. Any directive inside a container will only be valid inside this container, directives outside the container are of global effect for the whole site. On the other side, there are directives that are only valid inside a container.

ServerRoot "/usr"
This is a tricky on. All relative paths start from here, the absolute ones are, as implied by the name, absolute.
Listen 80
The TCP port the httpd listens for incoming connection requests. If our machine has more than one network address, we can bind the httpd to one (ore more) IP adresses/port combinations here as well.
LoadModule auth_basic_module lib/httpd/modules/mod_auth_basic.so
Loads the module auth_basic_module located in lib/httpd/modules/mod_auth_basic.so relative to the ServerRoot, so the whole path to this module is /usr/lib/httpd/modules/mod_auth_basic.so
User apache
The user account httpd runs as. This better be an restricted account. One (the first) httpd process has to run as root, if it wants to claim port 80.
Group apache
The group of the user httpd runs as.
ServerAdmin webadmin@your.site
the e-mail address of the administrator responsible for running the httpd. This shows up when errors occur.
DocumentRoot "/srv/httpd/htdocs"
This is the directory where the actual HTML documents live on your hard drive!
<Directory /> ... </Directory>
This is a container object. All directives inside are only valid for this directory "/" and all of its subdirectories.
Options FollowSymLinks
Potential security risk! Does what its name suggest.
AllowOverride None
You can override most directives with a .htaccess file. This is a security risk and the use of .htascess is denied by this directive.
Order deny,allow
Controls the access to files and directories. First look who is not allowed, then look who is allowed. The default is the last control that matches, if non matches or both match, use the default (=last)!
Deny from all
Denies all hosts the access to all file in this container.
<Directory "/srv/httpd/htdocs"> ... </Directory>
Container for the ServerRoot directory. Note the Order allow,deny and the Allow from all directives. Here we want access from all hosts.
DirectoryIndex index.html
The file with this name is presented to the client when a web browser accesses a directory and not a specific HTML page.
If no index.html exist in this directory the contents of the directory itself is shown. Options Indexes allows this, while Options -Indexes generates an error message instead of listing the directories contents.
ErrorLog "/var/log/httpd/error_log"
Sets the logfile for error messages.
LogLevel warn
Sets the verbosity of the error messages.
LogFormat "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-Agent}i\"" combined
Sets the format of the entries in the custom log file (usually access_log)
CustomLog "/var/log/httpd/access_log" common
Sets name and location of the custom log file.
ScriptAlias /cgi-bin/ "/srv/httpd/cgi-bin/"
Directory for CGI scripts.
DefaultType text/plain
Apache uses this MIME type for the HTML pages it provides to the web browser, if the HTML page itself contains no other information.
TypesConfig /etc/httpd/mime.types
List of MIME types to use for different types of file names.

Access restrictions methods and files

Access to files and directories on the web server can be restricted based on the machines IP or network (hostname, domain, IP address, or network) or based on user name and password. While the access can be restricted by this methods all content transmitted in both directions is still not encrypted! To secure the communication and ensure the identity of the web server the SSL/TLS protocol will be used in the next chapter of this book.


The behaviour of the Apache web server can be finely tuned in the Apache configuration (or the .htaccess file) on a per directory (<Directory> container), per file (<File> container), or per URL (<Location> container) basis. The directives inside a <Directory> (or <Location>) container are valid for the directory itself and all its subdirectories. Most of this directives can be overwritten by external configuration files, usually .htaccess. This is highly discouraged for security and sanity reasons. Some possible directives for AllowOverride are:

no use of external configuration changes allowed (safest)
all directives can be changed (most insecure)
some changes are allowed (not secure at all)
mainly authentication related directives can be changed
mainly Options directives can be overwritten

Machine Restrictions

Order sets the sequence of access restrictions, where the last matching rule wins. The last rule is also the default rule if neither rule matches or both match. The possible Allow/Deny restrictions are hostname (host.domain.example), domain (domain2.example), ip ( and network (192.168.10

<Directory "/srv/httpd/htdocs">
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride None
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
    Deny from example.com

All access from everywhere is allowed, but the domain example.com is denied.

User Based Restrictions

User based access restrictions are insecure on different levels:

  • passwords are not encrypted (danger: snooping)
  • every content up- and download is clear text (danger: snooping)
  • there is no guarantee about the identity of the server (danger: fraud/phishing)

One big part of Apaches flexibility is its capability to talk to different back ends for user authentication, the most simple being plain text files, which is OK for smaller numbers of users, but do not scale to more than (about) 150 people.

Usernames, passwords and groups are stored in text files usually called .htpasswd and .htgroup. These names are defined in httpd.conf or .htaccess by the directives AuthUserFile and AuthGroupFile. Both directives are part of the mod_auth module. We create/change a username and password with the htpasswd utility. The -c option creates a new password file, if such a file already exists it will be destroyed without warning! htpasswd requires two parameters: password and username.

root@lpislack# htpasswd -c /etc/httpd/htpasswd newuser

One other important thing to keep in mind is that the only safe place for password file and group file is outside the DocumentRoot, where these files can't accidentally or maliciously be downloaded by unauthorized visitors.

Going back to reality, overwriting the httpd.conf directives with a .htaccess file and placing the .htpasswd and .htgroup inside the document directories is often done, if the web site administrator does not have full access to the Apache configuration, e. g. in shared hosting environments. To protect these files one can restrict the access to them in a <Files> container spelled out in the httpd.conf:

<FilesMatch "^\.ht">
    Order allow,deny
    Deny from all
    Satisfy All

Example 1

This example shows the preferred, but sadly not always possible configuration. The restricted directory is /srv/httpd/htdocs/private1, that can be reached at http://lpislack.vbox.privat/private1/ by my web browser.


<Directory "/srv/httpd/htdocs/private1">
    AuthType Basic
    AuthName "Private1! Restricted Access!"
    require valid-user
    AuthUserFile /etc/httpd/htpasswd

After fiddling with the configuration file we probably should restart the httpd server process.

root@lpislack:/etc/httpd# /etc/rc.d/rc.httpd restart

Create password file htaccess:

root@lpislack:/etc/httpd# htpasswd -c /etc/httpd/htpasswd firstuser
New password:
Re-type new password:
Adding password for user firstuser
root@lpislack:/etc/httpd# cat htpasswd

This file is only accessible by authorized (root!) users. (And by the way, the password is tee2Seih.)

The password protected page /srv/httpd/htdocs/private1/index.html source code:

root@lpislack:/srv/www/htdocs/private1# cat index.html
<html><body><h1>This is private!</h1></body></html>

Example 2

This example shows a commonly used configuration. It is not the best, but sometimes the only possible setup. We can do much better (much safer) if we can locate the password file outside the DocumentRoot. The restricted directory here is /srv/httpd/htdocs/private2, that can be reached at http://lpislack.vbox.privat/private2/ by the web browser.

The only change to httpd.conf is to allow AllowOverride. In fact, if we can change httpd.conf, we could do the right thing in the first place (see Example 1).

<Directory "/srv/httpd/htdocs/private2">
    AllowOverride AuthConfig

Set up the external configuration file .htaccess in /srv/httpd/htdocs/private2/:

    AuthType Basic
    AuthName "Private2! Restricted Access!"
    require valid-user
    AuthUserFile /srv/httpd/htdocs/private2/.htpasswd

Restart httpd:

root@lpislack:/etc/httpd# /etc/rc.d/rc.httpd restart

Create password file with the user seconduser with the password uu2yo1Wo:

root@lpislack:/etc/httpd# htpasswd -c /srv/www/htdocs/private2/.htpasswd seconduser
New password:
Re-type new password:
Adding password for user seconduser
root@lpislack:/etc/httpd# cat /srv/www/htdocs/private2/.htpasswd

Modules and CGI

Flexibility and easy extendability are two important reasons for Apaches success. They are achieved in part by the CGI (=common gateway interconnect) concept and the ability to extend an already compiled Apache instance with modules. CGI programs (often called "CGI scripts") are executable programs that can be written in any language, be it bash, pearl, php, basic, assembler or ada. They run on the server, which uses up hardware resources of the server (RAM and CPU time) but do not impact the client. He receives what looks like any static HTML page, although the HTML page was dynamically created by the CGI program. The httpd takes the output of the CGI program and gives it unchanged and unchecked to the client web browser. (e.g., the HTTP headers have to be crafted by the CGI program). CGI programms can also take user input (via PUT or GET requests).


This bash script outputs "don't try this at home" in ugly blinking letters and prints the content of /etc/passwd to show how dangerous CGI programming can be!

echo "Content-type: text/html"
echo ""
echo "<html>"
echo "<body>"
echo "<blink>DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!</blink>"
cat /etc/passwd
echo "</body>"
echo "<html>"


Modules on the other hand can extend the abilites of the httpd with features that are not part of the main Apache source code. (Some modules can be compiled into the httpd directly.) Modules can be switched on and off (e. g. for security reasons) with a simple change in the httpd.conf. Most modules need addional configuration directives in httpd.conf, usually by importing configuration files.

For security reasons we will only enable modules actually needed by our web site.


One very useful example is mod_php. If PHP code is executed as a simple CGI script, every script starts the PHP parsing engine, the HTML text is generated, and then the PHP parsing engine is shut down.

mod_php starts the PHP engine as a module for the Apache process and the PHP engine will be persisted over multiple requests. This drastically reduces the overhead of using PHP for dynamic web site creation. As an added bonus we can use PHP code directly in our HTTP sourcecode. This code also runs at the server side and is then replaced by its output before the complete HTML page is sent to the client. If we use a database, this connection can also be persisted if we use mod_php.

The PHP language itself is configured by php.ini, located at /etc/httpd/, but this file usually don't need to be changed.

To enable mod_php on Slackware 13.0 we only need to uncomment the line

Include /etc/httpd/mod_php.conf

in /etc/httpd/httpd.conf. This will include this already set up configuration directly into our httpd.conf.


LoadModule php5_module lib/httpd/modules/libphp5.so
AddType application/x-httpd-php .php

We now change AddType application/x-httpd-php to

AddType application/x-httpd-php .php .html .htm

to use PHP code inside HTML documents. This can be convenient, but increases the workload on high traffic websites considerably, because ever requested HTML page is shoved through the PHP interpreter. Another thing we can do to make our lives a bit easier, is adding index.php to the DirectoryIndex directive.

Now we restart the httpd


To check if it works we create testforphp.php somewhere below the DocumentRoot

<title>Status for PHP</title>

Now remove this file (or at least deny read access), because this will blast our entire web server configuration to the whole internet, where every creep of the planet is just milliseconds away from us. (Try searching for intitle:phpinfo "PHP Version" in Google...)


While Slackware 13.0 comes with perl as an installable package, the minimal test CGI script printenv in /srv/www/cgi-bin needs a small help. First we need to mark it as an executable by

root@lpislack:/srv/www/htdocs# chmod a+x ../cgi-bin/printenv

and then change the first line "#!/usr/local/bin/perl" to "#!/usr/bin/perl". Now we can navigate our web browser to http://lpislack.vbox.privat/cgi-bin/printenv and see if it works:

HTTP_ACCEPT="text/html, application/xml;q=0.9, application/xhtml+xml, image/png, image/jpeg, image/gif, image/x-xbitmap, */*;q=0.1"
HTTP_ACCEPT_CHARSET="iso-8859-1, utf-8, utf-16, *;q=0.1"
HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING="deflate, gzip, x-gzip, identity, *;q=0"
HTTP_TE="deflate, gzip, chunked, identity, trailers"
HTTP_USER_AGENT="Opera/9.80 (X11; Linux i686; U; de) Presto/2.2.15 Version/10.10"
SERVER_SOFTWARE="Apache/2.2.14 (Unix) DAV/2 PHP/5.2.12"

We do not use mod_perl at this time but run CGI scripts written in Perl as we would run any other executable.

So mod_perl (from http://perl.apache.org) does for the Perl language the same as mod_php does for PHP : it adds native language support directly into the Apache web server and so reduces load and speeds up response time.

Sadly there is no pre built mod_perl package for Slackware 13.0, but http://slackbuilds.org has at http://slackbuilds.org/repository/13.0/network/mod_perl/ a tried and true buildscript for everyone who can read the instructions. (As as sidenote, SlackBuilds are the preferred method to build Slackware packages from source.)

This situation demonstrates the use of modules: Functionality that is not included in Apache can be added by external modules without recompiling Apache. If there was a bugfix for Apache and we had to upgrade, mod_perl will still work fine as a modul. If mod_perl was compiled into Apache we had to get the source code, fit it to our setup, compile and install it. With every update we would need to go through the same process, just to keep using Perl.

After building and installing the package we simply need to include mod_perl.conf to httpd.conf and restart the Apache server.


LoadModule perl_module lib/httpd/modules/mod_perl.so
AddHandler perl-script pl
<Files *.pl>
     # mod_perl mode
     SetHandler perl-script
     PerlResponseHandler ModPerl::Registry
     PerlOptions +ParseHeaders
     Options +ExecCGI

Perl files can live everywhere in the DocumentRoot and their name has to end in ".pl". Let's go back to the printenv example. If we call it again, it will still be executed as CGI, but if we copy it to the DocumentRoot and rename it printenv.pl it will be run by mod_perl, as we can clearly see by the MOD_PERL and MOD_PERL_API_VERSION lines in the output below:

HTTP_ACCEPT="text/html, application/xml;q=0.9, application/xhtml+xml, image/png, image/jpeg, image/gif, image/x-xbitmap, */*;q=0.1"
HTTP_ACCEPT_CHARSET="iso-8859-1, utf-8, utf-16, *;q=0.1"
HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING="deflate, gzip, x-gzip, identity, *;q=0"
HTTP_TE="deflate, gzip, chunked, identity, trailers"
HTTP_USER_AGENT="Opera/9.80 (X11; Linux i686; U; de) Presto/2.2.15 Version/10.10"
SERVER_SOFTWARE="Apache/2.2.14 (Unix) DAV/2 PHP/5.2.12 mod_perl/2.0.4 Perl/v5.10.0"

Restrict Resource Usage

Apache is capable of serving up pretty busy web sites. One mechanism to provide quick responsetimes under heavy load is to have waiting processes ready to jump into action at any given time. So unlike most other programs Apache spawns multiple processes when it is started. The number of processes is adjusted depending on the numbers of connections by creating and destroying child processes as needed.

One control process listens for new requests, usually on TCP port 80, while every client is connected to its very own child process that serves requests for the whole lifetime of this connection. StartServers determines the number of processes to begin with when Apache is started. But this is of little meaning, because MinSpareServers sets the minimum number of idle Apache processes waiting to server new connections. If there are less spare servers left, they are created at a rate of one per second. If that is not enough, the rate of process creation is doubled every second up to 32 new processes per second. If this is not sufficient, we sure as hell have other problems. On the other hand, if there are more idle servers than MaxSpareServers the unneeded processes are shut down one by one.

MaxClients limits the absolute number of simultaneously running server processes, and with that the maximum number of simultaneous client connections. The maximum number of 256 is a hard limit set at compile time. If there are more connection requests than apache processes to serve them, the requests are first moved to a backlog, and only if this backlog is filled up too, the requests are rejected.

The lifetime of an apache (child) process can be limited by the absolute number of connections he will serve as defined by MaximumRequests. This can mitigate problems when memory leaks on less stable platforms occur or problems caused by buggy modules or badly written CGIs. If set to 0 child processes can live indefinitely, if they are not terminated because of too many spare servers.



# yum install httpd

The web server binary is called httpd. The control script is called apachectl. The access and error log files are located in /var/log/httpd/ and called access_log and error_log.



# aptitude install apache2

The web server binary is called apache2. The control script is called apache2ctl, which is not the same as apachectl by another name. The access and error log files are located in /var/log/apache2/ and called access.log and error.log. (Note the dot “.” instead of the underscore “_”.)


  1. "Netcraft report on web server usage". Retrieved 2009-12-27.

208.2 Maintaining A Web Server

Detailed Objectives (208.2)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 3

Description: Candidates should be able to configure a web server to provide HTTPS.

Key knowledge areas

  • SSL configuration files, tools and utilities.
  • Generate a server private key and CSR for a commercial CA.
  • Generate a self-signed Certificate.
  • Install the key and certificate, including intermediate CAs.
  • Configure Virtual Hosting using SNI.
  • Awareness of the issues with Virtual Hosting and use of SSL.
  • Security issues in SSL use, disable insecure protocols and ciphers.

Terms and Utilities:

  • Apache2 configuration files
  • /etc/ssl/, /etc/pki/
  • openssl, CA.pl
  • SSLEngine, SSLCertificateKeyFile, SSLCertificateFile
  • SSLCACertificateFile, SSLCACertificatePath
  • SSLProtocol, SSLCipherSuite, ServerTokens, ServerSignature, TraceEnable


Apache is an impressive and powerful application. It is not only able to serve simple (static) HTTP pages, which is (essentially) a trivial task. Apache can host multiple web sites (http://www.example.com and http://www.beispiel.de) on one physical machine at one IP address using one Apache process by using "virtual hosts". Apache can also use multiple IP addresses to store different web sites on the same physical machine, which does not (necessarily) need different networking card. This is also realized by "virtual hosts".

Also, Apache can use very sophisticated methods to redirect queries.

Most importantly, at least to me, is the use SSL (as OpenSSL). SSL can do many things for many people: it can secure (encrypt) the content going back and forth between the web client and the web server. It can also ensure the identity of both parties communicating, the server and the client.

Virtual Hosts

VirtualHost sections contain directives that apply only to a specific hostname or IP address. See [1] and [2]

IP Based Virtual Hosts

Name Based Virtual Hosts


OpenSSL(link) is a collection of tools that implement and handle certificates(link) that conform to the Transport Layer Security (TLS) ??? protocol(link).

What are certificates?

Secure Socket Layer (SSL)(link), or Transport Layer Security (TLS)(link) as SSL versions beyond 3 are called now, uses Public Key Cryptography(link) to protect transactions over the insecure and not secureable internet. Like all public key cryptographic schemes (I know of) TLS uses a secret private key and an openly shared public key, called a certificate. The special twist with TLS certificates is the certification authority (CA)(link). For a TLS certificate to be recognized as valid, it has to be (cryptographically) signed by a "Certification Authority".

Flashback Public Key Crypto

In a nutshell, public key crypto works like this: there are two keys, one public key for everyone to have, and one private key, for my eyes only. The private key is also (usually) protected by a very strong password.

Both keys can be used to encrypt data that only the other key can decrypt. There is in principle no difference between the public and private key!

On the other hand side it seems to make no sense to encrypt data with your private key, because everyone on the internet has already or can get your public key and decrypt the data. But if you encrypt data with your private key, you can prove you are in possession of the private key. This way you can (cryptographically) sign the data. To sign a piece of data we usually don't encrypt the whole but a (cryptographic) hash(link) of it and so can prove the authenticity of the data, provided we guard our private key very carefully. The password simply is a second security measure, in case the private key leaked into the public or gets lost.

What does a CA do exactly?

A Certification Authority signs our public keys with its private key. Then they are called certificates. Thats it! Almost. We send in a "certificate signing request" (more on this later), a claim of your identity and a varying sum of money and the CA tries (depending on the amount of money we spent) to check our identity and if succeeded will sign our request and finally send back the signed certificate. But keep in mind that there is only so much The Hong Kong Post Office(TM) (or any other CA) can do to verify e. g. a Brazilian identity. But now the problem is to get the certificate of the CA... and here the trick is: we already have it! Most pieces of software that can use TLS certificates come with a list of trusted (this is the magic word) CAs. Any new certificate (e. g. shop.example.com) signed by this trusted CAs (e. g. by StartSSL) with their certificates installed on our machines is also regarded as trusted. Unsigned certificates or ones signed by unknown CA are regarded as "not trusted" an we are presented with a dire warning.

How do certificates work exactly?

We can use TLS certificates with almost any insecure service on the internet, if we only try hard enough.

  • Web browsing (HTTPS instead of HTTP)
  • Sending Mail (SMTPS instead of SMTP)
  • Receiving Mail (IMAPS instead of IMAP/POP3S instead of POP3)
  • Chat (IRC over TLS)
  • VPN (OpenVPN)

How does it work (for web surfing)? A bit simplified:

  1. the client connects to the server
  2. the server sends over the certificate
  3. the client checks certain properties of the certificate
    1. the certificate is bound to the Full Qualified Host Name (FQHN) of the server we connect to. The web browser checks if the FQHN of the server and the certificate match, if not it generates an error.
    2. the certificate needs to be signed by a trusted CA, if not the web browser generates an error.
    3. certificates have a limited lifetime, depending on the amount of money we paid. The web browser checks if the certificate is still "fresh" and if not, it generates an error.
    4. there is a list of invalid certificates on our computer. These certificates are revoked for different reasons: they were compromised, had errors, were stolen, ... If the server certificate is on that list, the client software generates an error.
  4. if the certificate is deemed valid (or if an invalid certificate is accepted, despite being not valid) the client encrypts a random value with the certificate and sends it to the server.
  5. only the client (because he generated it) and the server (because only he can decrypt it) know the random value, generated by the client
  6. from the random value a symmetric key is generated on both ends and any further communication both ways is encrypted with this generated key. (A symmetric key is used, because encryption and decryption are much easier to handle by the CPU.)

How to find and use certificates

CA root certificates are stored on our computers in lots of different places. Often every piece of software that uses TLS brings their own list of trusted CAs.

  • openssl: /etc/ssl/certs
  • firefox:
  • thunderbird:
  • claws-mail: ~/.claws-mail/certs/

On the other hand side openssl can act as an TLS client for classical "clear text" protocols like, well like all the internet protocols, e. g. POP3

How to get a certificate

The easy way: Buy them from a CA

The fast way: Be your own CA

The hard way: BE your OWN CA

SSL Certificates

Detailed Objectives (208.3)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 2

Description: Candidates should be able to install and configure a proxy server, including access policies, authentication and resource usage.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Squid 3.x configuration files, terms and utilities
  • Access restriction methods
  • Client user authentication methods
  • Layout and content of ACL in the Squid configuration files

Terms and Utilities:

  • squid.conf
  • acl
  • http_access


  • Implementing a proxy server

We will be using the squid web proxy server version 2.4 and Linux kernel version 2.4 .

Proxying can be done in two ways : normal proxying and transparent proxying

  • In normal proxying, the client specifies the hostname and port number of a proxy in his web browsing software. The browser then makes requests to the proxy, and the proxy forwards them to the origin servers.
  • In transparent proxying, ...

Use transparent proxying if : You want to force clients on your network to use the proxy, whether they want to or not. You want clients to use a proxy, but don't want them to know they're being proxied. You want clients to be proxied, but don't want to go to all the work of updating the settings in hundreds or thousands of web browsers.

There are two types of transparent proxying :

  • Squid on the gateway
  • Squid on a separate box than the gateway

Squid on the gateway box

Setting up squid for ordinary proxying is quite simple : after installing squid, edit the default configuration file squid.conf Find the following directives, uncomment them, and change them to the appropriate values:

  • httpd_accel_host virtual
  • httpd_accel_port 80
  • httpd_accel_with_proxy on
  • httpd_accel_uses_host_header on

Next, look at the cache_effective_user and cache_effective_group directives, and set them up with a dedicated user and group (i.e squid/squid)

Finally, look at the http_access directive. The default is usually ``http_access deny all. This will prevent anyone from accessing squid. For now, you can change this to ``http_access allow all, but once it is working, you will probably want to read the directions on ACLs (Access Control Lists), and setup the cache such that only people on your local network (or whatever) can access the cache.

ACLs in squid will enable you to restrict access to the proxy.
The general format for an ACL rule is :
acl aclname acltype string1 ...
ACL rules can then be used in the http_access directive

ACL types are :

  • Src : acl aclname src ip-address/netmask
acl aclname src
  • Dst : acl aclname dst ip-address/netmask
acl aclname dst
  • Time : acl aclname time [day-abbreviations: M,T,W,H,F,A,S] [h1:m1-h2:m2]
acl ACLTIME time M 9:00-17:00
  • Port : acl aclname port port-no
acl acceleratedport port 80
  • Proto : acl aclname proto protocol
acl aclname proto HTTP FTP
  • Method : acl aclname method method-type
acl aclname method GET POST
  • Maxconn : acl aclname maxconn integer
acl twoconn maxconn 5

Next, initialize the cache directories with squid -z (if this is a not a new installation of squid, you should skip this step). Next, launch squid via the /etc/init.d/squid script, and you should be able to set your web browser's proxy settings to the IP of the box and port 3128 (unless you changed the default port number) and access squid as a normal proxy. Implementing a proxy server Transparent proxying can be set up in two different ways : on the router or on another (remote) host Transparent proxying on the router will involve setting up squid in the « normal », and configuring the packet filtering subsystem to redirect clients' connections to squid
The kernel's networking options required are :

  • Under 'General Setup'
Networking support
Sysctl support
  • Under 'Networking Options'
Network packet filtering
TCP/IP networking
  • Under 'Networking Options' -> IP: Netfilter Configuration
Connection tracking
IP tables support
Full NAT
REDIRECT target support
  • Under 'File Systems'
/proc filesystem support

You must say NO to Fast switching under Networking Options !

Once you have your new kernel up and running, make sure you have IP forwarding enabled. Next, to configure iptables to enable transparent proxying, all you have to do is :

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i eth0 -p tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-port 3128
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i eth0 -p tcp --dport 443 -j REDIRECT --to-port 3128

Transparent proxying to a remote box

Let's assume we have two boxes called squid-box and iptables-box, and that they are on the network local-network. First, on the machine that squid will be running on, squid-box, you do not need iptables or any special kernel options on this machine, just squid. You *will*, however, need the 'http_accel' options as described above. Now, on the machine that iptables will be running on, iptables-box, you will need to configure the kernel as described above, except that you don't need the REDIRECT target support. You will need 2 iptables rules :
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -i eth0 -s ! squid-box -p tcp --dport 80 -j DNAT --to squid-box:3128
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -s local-network -d squid-box -j SNAT --to iptables-box
The first one sends the packets to squid-box from iptables-box. The second makes sure that the reply gets sent back through iptables-box, instead of directly to the client. This is very important, because otherwise squid will never receive the answer from the target web server (and thus, no caching can take place!)

Key terms, files and utilities :

  • squid.conf
  • Acl
  • http_access
  • Exercises

Network Client Management

Detailed Objectives (210.1)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 2

Description: Candidates should be able to configure a DHCP server. This objective includes setting default and per client options, adding static hosts and BOOTP hosts. Also included is configuring a DHCP relay agent and maintaining the DHCP server.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • DHCP configuration files, terms and utilities.
  • Subnet and dynamically-allocated range setup.
  • Awareness of DHCPv6 and IPv6 Router Advertisements

Terms and Utilities:

  • dhcpd.conf
  • dhcpd.leases
  • DHCP Log messages in syslog or systemd journal
  • arp
  • dhcpd
  • radvd
  • radvd.conf

DHCP configuration =


Description: The candidate should be able to configure a DHCP server and set default options, create a subnet, and create a dynamically-allocated range. This objective includes adding a static host, setting options for a single host, and adding bootp hosts. Also included is to configure a DHCP relay agent, and reload the DHCP server after making changes.

Key files, terms, and utilities include:




Most people reading this will already know the DHCP protocol. Just as a quick reminder. DHCP stands for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and is commonly used to distribute specific network settings in networks. Settings such as the default gateway, nameservers, IP addresses and much more.

As for a small illustration of the protocol itself.

<insert schematic about DHCP Requests here>

Configuring dhcpd

After the installation of dhcpd the main configuration file can be found at /etc/dhcpd.conf. For Debian installations, one should edit /etc/default/dhcp as soon as the installation is finished and change the following line according to your setup.

INTERFACES="eth1" # or "eth1 eth2", whatever interfaces you wish to serve ip's.

The dhcpd.conf file is divided in global parameters and subnet specific parameters. Each subnet can override the global parameters. The most commonly used parameters are the following.

option domain-name "example.com"; 
option domain-name-servers ","
option subnet-mask; # global Subnet mask
default-lease-time 600; # Seconds each DHCP lease is granted and after which a request for the same ip is launched.
max-lease-time 7200; # If DHCP server does not respond, keep IP till 7200 seconds are passed.

subnet netmask { # Subnet for first 13 devices, 10 of which are servers, 3 printers
 range;  # Range of IP's for our printers
 option subnet-mask;
 option broadcast-address; # This is the subnets broadcast address
 option routers; # The gateway of this subnet
 option time-servers; # Gateway is running a timeserver
 option ntp-servers; # Gateway running a timeserver
subnet netmask { # Subnet for 29 computers
 option subnet-mask;
 option broadcast-address;
 option routers;
group {
 host server1 { # the first fixed server for subnet
  server-name server1;
  hardware ethernet 0f:45:d3:23:11:90;
 host server2 {
  server-name server2;
  hardware ethernet 0f:45:d3:23:11:91;

This example is just providing a hint about possible options and overrides.

More info can be found on dhcpd.conf and dhcp-options in man pages. Look in those pages too for information about using the DHCP server to serve BOOTP as well, useful for diskless clients.

Detailed Objective

Weight: 1

Candidates should be able to configure an NIS server. This objective includes configuring a system as an NIS client.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • NIS configuration files, terms and utilities
    • Create NIS maps for major configuration files
    • Manipulate nsswitch.conf to configure the ability to search local files, DNS, NIS, etc.
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • ypbind
    • ypcat
    • ypmatch
    • ypserv
    • yppasswd
    • yppoll
    • yppush
    • ypwhich
    • rpcinfo
    • nsswitch.conf
    • ypserv.conf
    • contents of /var/yp/*
    • netgroup
    • nicknames
    • securenets
    • Makefile

NIS configuration


Description: The candidate should be able to configure an NIS server and create NIS maps for major configuration files. This objective includes configuring a system as a NIS client, setting up an NIS slave server, and configuring ability to search local files, DNS, NIS, etc. in nsswitch.conf.

Key files, terms, and utilities include:

nisupdate, ypbind, ypcat, ypmatch, ypserv, ypswitch, yppasswd, yppoll, yppush, ypwhich, rpcinfo
nis.conf, nsswitch.conf, ypserv.conf 


NIS stands for Network Information Service. Its purpose is to provide information, that has to be known throughout the network, to all machines on the network. Information likely to be distributed by NIS is login names/passwords/home directories (/etc/passwd) and group information (/etc/group)

If, for example, your password entry is recorded in the NIS passwd database, you will be able to login on all machines on the network which have the NIS client programs running.

Within a network there must be at least one machine acting as a NIS server. You can have multiple NIS servers, each serving different NIS "domains" - or you can have cooperating NIS servers, where one is the master NIS server, and all the other are so-called slave NIS servers (for a certain NIS "domain", that is!) - or you can have a mix of them...

Slave servers only have copies of the NIS databases and receive these copies from the master NIS server whenever changes are made to the master's databases. Depending on the number of machines in your network and the reliability of your network, you might decide to install one or more slave servers. Whenever a NIS server goes down or is too slow in responding to requests, a NIS client connected to that server will try to find one that is up or faster.

NIS databases are in so-called DBM format, derived from ASCII databases. For example, the files /etc/passwd and /etc/group can be directly converted to DBM format using ASCII-to-DBM translation software ("makedbm", included with the server software). The master NIS server should have both, the ASCII databases and the DBM databases.

Slave servers will be notified of any change to the NIS maps, (via the "yppush" program), and automatically retrieve the necessary changes in order to synchronize their databases. NIS clients do not need to do this since they always talk to the NIS server to read the information stored in it's DBM databases.

To run any of the software mentioned below you will need to run the program /usr/sbin/portmap. The RPC portmapper (portmap(8)) is a server that converts RPC program numbers into TCP/IP (or UDP/IP) protocol port numbers. It must be running in order to make RPC calls (which is what the NIS/NIS+ client software does) to RPC servers (like a NIS or NIS+ server) on that machine. When an RPC server is started, it will tell portmap what port number it is listening to, and what RPC program numbers it is prepared to serve. When a client wishes to make an RPC call to a given program number, it will first contact portmap on the server machine to determine the port number where RPC packets should be sent.

Since RPC servers could be started by inetd(8), portmap should be running before inetd is started. For secure RPC, the portmapper needs the Time service. Make sure, that the Time service is enabled in /etc/inetd.conf on all hosts:

# Time service is used for clock synchronization.
time    stream  tcp     nowait  root    internal
time    dgram   udp     wait    root    internal

IMPORTANT: Don't forget to restart inetd after changes on its configuration file !

What do you need to set up NIS?

Determine whether you are a Server, Slave or Client : Your machine is going to be part of a network with existing NIS servers You do not have any NIS servers in the network yet

In the first case, you only need the client programs (ypbind, ypwhich, ypcat, yppoll, ypmatch). The most important program is ypbind. This program must be running at all times, which means, it should always appear in the list of processes. It is a daemon process and needs to be started from the system's startup file (eg. /etc/init.d/nis, /sbin/init.d/ypclient, /etc/rc.d/init.d/ypbind, /etc/rc.local). As soon as ypbind is running your system has become a NIS client.

In the second case, if you don't have NIS servers, then you will also need a NIS server program (usually called ypserv). Section 9 describes how to set up a NIS server on your Linux machine using the "ypserv" daemon.

Setting Up the NIS Client

The ypbind daemon

Newer ypbind versions have a configuration file called /etc/yp.conf. You can hardcode a NIS server there - for more info see the manual page for ypbind(8). You also need this file for NYS. An example:


If the system can resolve the hostnames without NIS, you may use the name, otherwise you have to use the IP address. ypbind 3.3 has a bug and will only use the last entry (ypserver in the example). All other entries are ignored. ypbind-mt handle this correct and uses that one, which answered at first.

It might be a good idea to test ypbind before incorporating it in the startup files. To test ypbind do the following:

Make sure you have your YP-domain name set. If it is not set then issue the command: /bin/domainname nis.domain

where nis.domain should be some string _NOT_ normally associated with the DNS-domain name of your machine! The reason for this is that it makes it a little harder for external crackers to retrieve the password database from your NIS servers. If you don't know what the NIS domain name is on your network, ask your system/network administrator.

Start up "/usr/sbin/portmap" if it is not already running. Create the directory "/var/yp" if it does not exist. Start up "/usr/sbin/ypbind"

Use the command "rpcinfo -p localhost" to check if ypbind was able to register its service with the portmapper. The output should look like:

      program vers proto   port
       100000    2   tcp    111  portmapper
       100000    2   udp    111  portmapper
       100007    2   udp    637  ypbind
       100007    2   tcp    639  ypbind

Or like this (depending on the version of ypbind you are using) :

      program vers proto   port
       100000    2   tcp    111  portmapper
       100000    2   udp    111  portmapper
       100007    2   udp    758  ypbind
       100007    1   udp    758  ypbind
       100007    2   tcp    761  ypbind
       100007    1   tcp    761  ypbind

You may also run "rpcinfo -u localhost ypbind". This command should produce something like:

       program 100007 version 1 ready and waiting
       program 100007 version 2 ready and waiting

The output depends on the ypbind version you have installed. Important is only the "version 2" message. At this point you should be able to use NIS client programs like ypcat, etc... For example, "ypcat passwd.byname" will give you the entire NIS password database.

IMPORTANT: If you skipped the test procedure then make sure you have set the domain name, and created the directory /var/yp. This directory MUST exist for ypbind to start up successfully. To check if the domainname is set correct, use the /bin/ypdomainname from yp-tools 2.2. It uses the yp_get_default_domain() function which is more restrict. It doesn't allow for example the "(none)" domainname, which is the default under Linux and makes a lot of problems.

If the test worked you may now want to change your startupd files so that ypbind will be started at boot time and your system will act as a NIS client. Make sure that the domainname will be set before you start ypbind. Well, that's it. Reboot the machine and watch the boot messages to see if ypbind is actually started. For host lookups you must set (or add) "nis" to the lookup order line in your /etc/host.conf file. Please read the manpage "resolv+.8" for more details. Add the following line to /etc/passwd on your NIS clients:


You can also use the + and - characters to include/exclude or change users. If you want to exclude the user guest just add -guest to your /etc/passwd file. You want to use a different shell (e.g. ksh) for the user "linux"? No problem, just add "+linux::::::/bin/ksh" (without the quotes) to your /etc/passwd. Fields that you don't want to change have to be left empty. You could also use Netgroups for user control.

For example, to allow login-access only to miquels, dth and ed, and all members of the sysadmin netgroup, but to have the account data of all other users available use:


Note that in Linux you can also override the password field, as we did in this example. We also remove the login "ftp", so it isn't known any longer, and anonymous ftp will not work. The netgroup would look like :

sysadmins (-,software,) (-,kukuk,)

The nsswitch.conf File

The Network Services switch file /etc/nsswitch.conf determines the order of lookups performed when a certain piece of information is requested, just like the /etc/host.conf file which determines the way host lookups are performed. For example, the line :

   hosts: files nis dns

specifies that host lookup functions should first look in the local /etc/hosts file, followed by a NIS lookup and finally through the domain name service (/etc/resolv.conf and named), at which point if no match is found an error is returned. This file must be readable for every user! You can find more information in the man-page nsswitch.5 or nsswitch.conf.5.

A good /etc/nsswitch.conf file for NIS is:

# /etc/nsswitch.conf
passwd:     compat
group:      compat
# For libc5, you must use shadow: files nis
shadow:     compat
passwd_compat: nis
group_compat: nis
shadow_compat: nis
hosts:      nis files dns
services:   nis [NOTFOUND=return] files
networks:   nis [NOTFOUND=return] files
protocols:  nis [NOTFOUND=return] files
rpc:        nis [NOTFOUND=return] files
ethers:     nis [NOTFOUND=return] files
netmasks:   nis [NOTFOUND=return] files
netgroup:   nis
bootparams: nis [NOTFOUND=return] files
publickey:  nis [NOTFOUND=return] files
automount:  files
aliases:    nis [NOTFOUND=return] files

Setting up a NIS Server

The Server Program ypserv

If you run your server as master, determine what files you require to be available via NIS and then add or remove the appropriate entries to the "all" rule in /var/yp/Makefile. You always should look at the Makefile and edit the Options at the beginning of the file.

There was one big change between ypserv 1.1 and ypserv 1.2. Since version 1.2, the file handles are cached. This means you have to call makedbm always with the -c option if you create new maps. Make sure, you are using the new /var/yp/Makefile from ypserv 1.2 or later, or add the -c flag to makedbm in the Makefile. If you don't do that, ypserv will continue to use the old maps, and not the updated one.

Now edit /var/yp/securenets and /etc/ypserv.conf. For more information, read the ypserv(8) and ypserv.conf(5) manual pages.

Make sure the portmapper (portmap(8)) is running, and start the server ypserv. The command « rpcinfo -u localhost ypserv » should output something like :

   program 100004 version 1 ready and waiting
   program 100004 version 2 ready and waiting

The "version 1" line could be missing, depending on the ypserv version and configuration you are using. It is only necessary if you have old SunOS 4.x clients.

Now generate the NIS (YP) database. On the master, run :

   % /usr/lib/yp/ypinit -m

On a slave make sure that ypwhich -m works. This means, that your slave must be configured as NIS client before you could run « /usr/lib/yp/ypinit -s masterhost » to install the host as NIS slave. That's it, your server is up and running.

If you have bigger problems, you could start ypserv and ypbind in debug mode on different xterms. The debug output should show you what goes wrong.

If you need to update a map, run make in the /var/yp directory on the NIS master. This will update a map if the source file is newer, and push the files to the slave servers. Please don't use ypinit for updating a map. You might want to edit root's crontab *on the slave* server and add the following lines:

     20 *    * * *    /usr/lib/yp/ypxfr_1perhour
     40 6    * * *    /usr/lib/yp/ypxfr_1perday
     55 6,18 * * *    /usr/lib/yp/ypxfr_2perday

This will ensure that most NIS maps are kept up-to-date, even if an update is missed because the slave was down at the time the update was done on the master.

You can add a slave at every time later. At first, make sure that the new slave server has permissions to contact the NIS master. Then run :

   % /usr/lib/yp/ypinit -s masterhost

on the new slave. On the master server, add the new slave server name to /var/yp/ypservers and run make in /var/yp to update the map.

The Program rpc.ypxfrd

rpc.ypxfrd is used for speed up the transfer of very large NIS maps from a NIS master to NIS slave servers. If a NIS slave server receives a message that there is a new map, it will start ypxfr for transfering the new map. ypxfr will read the contents of a map from the master server using the yp_all() function. This process can take several minutes when there are very large maps which have to store by the database library.

The rpc.ypxfrd server speeds up the transfer process by allowing NIS slave servers to simply copy the master server's map files rather than building their own from scratch. rpc.ypxfrd uses an RPC-based file transfer protocol, so that there is no need for building a new map.

rpc.ypxfrd can be started by inetd. But since it starts very slow, it should be started with ypserv. You need to start rpc.ypxfrd only on the NIS master server.

The Program rpc.yppasswdd

Whenever users change their passwords, the NIS password database and probably other NIS databases, which depend on the NIS password database, should be updated. The program "rpc.yppasswdd" is a server that handles password changes and makes sure that the NIS information will be updated accordingly. rpc.yppasswdd is now integrated in ypserv. You don't need the older, separate yppasswd-0.9.tar.gz or yppasswd-0.10.tar.gz, and you shouldn't use them any longer. The rpc.yppasswdd in ypserv 1.3.2 has full shadow support. yppasswd is now part of yp-tools-2.2.tar.gz.

You need to start rpc.yppasswdd only on the NIS master server. By default, users are not allowed to change their full name or the login shell. You can allow this with the -e chfn or -e chsh option. If your passwd and shadow files are not in another directory then /etc, you need to add the -D option. For example, if you have put all source files in /etc/yp and wish to allow the user to change his shell, you need to start rpc.yppasswdd with the following parameters:

  rpc.yppasswdd -D /etc/yp -e chsh


  rpc.yppasswdd -s /etc/yp/shadow -p /etc/yp/passwd -e chsh

There is nothing more to do. You just need to make sure, that rpc.yppasswdd uses the same files as /var/yp/Makefile. Errors will be logged using syslog.

If everything is fine (as it should be), you should be able to verify your installation with a few simple commands. Assuming, for example, your passwd file is being supplied by NIS, the command :

   % ypcat passwd

should give you the contents of your NIS passwd file. The command :

   % ypmatch userid passwd

(where userid is the login name of an arbitrary user) should give you the user's entry in the NIS passwd file. The "ypcat" and "ypmatch" programs should be included with your distribution of traditional NIS or NYS. Once you have NIS correctly configured on the server and client, you do need to be sure that the configuration will survive a reboot. On RedHat, create or modify the variable NISDOMAIN in the file /etc/sysconfig/network.


Detailed Objectives (210.4)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 4

Description: Candidates should be able to configure a basic OpenLDAP server including knowledge of LDIF format and essential access controls.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • OpenLDAP
  • Directory based configuration
  • Access Control
  • Distinguished Names
  • Changetype Operations
  • Schemas and Whitepages
  • Directories
  • Object IDs, Attributes and Classes

Terms and Utilities:

  • slapd
  • slapd-config
  • LDIF
  • slapadd
  • slapcat
  • slapindex
  • /var/lib/ldap/
  • loglevel

Detailed Objectives (210.2)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 3

Description: The candidate should be able to configure PAM to support authentication using various available methods. This includes basic SSSD functionality.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • PAM configuration files, terms and utilities.
  • passwd and shadow passwords.
  • Use sssd for LDAP authentication.

Terms and Utilities:

  • /etc/pam.d
  • pam.conf
  • nsswitch.conf
  • pam_unix, pam_cracklib, pam_limits, pam_listfile, pam_sss
  • sssd.conf

== PAM authentication == test

PAM (Pluggable Authentication Modules) is a flexible mechanism for authenticating users.

Since the beginnings of UNIX, authenticating a user has been accomplished via the user entering a password and the system checking if the entered password corresponds to the encrypted official password that is stored in /etc/passwd . The idea being that the user *is* really that user if and only if they can correctly enter their secret password.

That was in the beginning. Since then, a number of new ways of authenticating users have become popular. Including more complicated replacements for the /etc/passwd file, and hardware devices Smart cards etc.. The problem is that each time a new authentication scheme is developed, it requires all the necessary programs (login, ftpd etc...) to be rewritten to support it.

PAM provides a way to develop programs that are independent of authentication scheme. These programs need "authentication modules" to be attatched to them at run-time in order to work. Which authentication module is to be attatched is dependent upon the local system setup and is at the discretion of the local system administrator.

PAM authentication

Linux-PAM (Pluggable Authentication Modules for Linux) is a suite of shared libraries that enable the local system administrator to choose how applications authenticate users.

In other words, without (rewriting and) recompiling a PAM-aware application, it is possible to switch between the authentication mechanism(s) it uses. Indeed, one may entirely upgrade the local authentication system without touching the applications themselves.

Historically an application that has required a given user to be authenticated, has had to be compiled to use a specific authentication mechanism. For example, in the case of traditional UN*X systems, the identity of the user is verified by the user entering a correct password. This password, after being prefixed by a two character salt, is encrypted (with crypt(3)). The user is then authenticated if this encrypted password is identical to the second field of the user's entry in the system password database (the /etc/passwd file). On such systems, most if not all forms of privileges are granted based on this single authentication scheme. Privilege comes in the form of a personal user-identifier (uid) and membership of various groups. Services and applications are available based on the personal and group identity of the user. Traditionally, group membership has been assigned based on entries in the /etc/group file.

PAM authentication

Unfortunately, increases in the speed of computers and the widespread introduction of network based computing, have made once secure authentication mechanisms, such as this, vulnerable to attack. In the light of such realities, new methods of authentication are continuously being developed. It is the purpose of the Linux-PAM project to separate the development of privilege granting software from the development of secure and appropriate authentication schemes. This is accomplished by providing a library of functions that an application may use to request that a user be authenticated. This PAM library is configured locally with a system file, /etc/pam.conf (or a series of configuration files located in /etc/pam.d/) to authenticate a user request via the locally available authentication modules. The modules themselves will usually be located in the directory /lib/security and take the form of dynamically loadable object files (see dlopen(3)).

PAM authentication


For the uninitiated, we begin by considering an example. We take an application that grants some service to users; login is one such program. Login does two things, it first establishes that the requesting user is whom they claim to be and second provides them with the requested service: in the case of login the service is a command shell (bash, tcsh, zsh, etc.) running with the identity of the user.

Traditionally, the former step is achieved by the login application prompting the user for a password and then verifying that it agrees with that located on the system; hence verifying that as far as the system is concerned the user is who they claim to be. This is the task that is delegated to Linux-PAM. From the perspective of the application programmer (in this case the person that wrote the login application), Linux-PAM takes care of this authentication task -- verifying the identity of the user.

PAM authentication

The flexibility of Linux-PAM is that you, the system administrator, have the freedom to stipulate which authentication scheme is to be used. You have the freedom to set the scheme for any/all PAM-aware applications on your Linux system. That is, you can authenticate from anything as naive as simple trust (pam_permit) to something as paranoid as a combination of a retinal scan, a voice print and a one-time password!

To illustrate the flexibility you face, consider the following situation: a system administrator (parent) wishes to improve the mathematical ability of her users (children). She can configure their favorite Shoot 'em up game (PAM-aware of course) to authenticate them with a request for the product of a couple of random numbers less than 12. It is clear that if the game is any good they will soon learn their multiplication tables. As they mature, the authentication can be upgraded to include (long) division!

PAM authentication

Linux-PAM deals with four separate types of (management) task. These are: authentication management; account management; session management; and password management. The association of the preferred management scheme with the behavior of an application is made with entries in the relevant Linux-PAM configuration file. The management functions are performed by modules specified in the configuration file.

The Linux-PAM library consults the contents of the PAM configuration file and loads the modules that are appropriate for an application. These modules fall into one of four management groups and are stacked in the order they appear in the configuration file. These modules, when called by Linux-PAM, perform the various authentication tasks for the application. Textual information, required from/or offered to the user, can be exchanged through the use of the application-supplied conversation function.

PAM authentication

Linux-PAM is designed to provide the system administrator with a great deal of flexibility in configuring the privilege granting applications of their system. The local configuration of those aspects of system security controlled by Linux-PAM is contained in one of two places: either the single system file, /etc/pam.conf; or the /etc/pam.d/ directory.

Linux-PAM specific tokens in this file are case insensitive. The module paths, however, are case sensitive since they indicate a file's name and reflect the case dependence of typical Linux file-systems. The case-sensitivity of the arguments to any given module is defined for each module in turn. In addition to the lines described below, there are two special characters provided for the convenience of the system administrator: comments are preceded by a `#' and extend to the next end-of-line; also, module specification lines may be extended with a `\' escaped newline.

A general configuration line of the /etc/pam.conf file has the following form: : service-name module-type control-flag module-path args

PAM authentication

Below, we explain the meaning of each of these tokens. The second (and more recently adopted) way of configuring Linux-PAM is via the contents of the /etc/pam.d/ directory. Once we have explained the meaning of the above tokens, we will describe this method.


The name of the service associated with this entry. Frequently the service name is the conventional name of the given application. For example, `ftpd', `rlogind' and `su', etc. . There is a special service-name, reserved for defining a default authentication mechanism. It has the name `OTHER' and may be specified in either lower or upper case characters. Note, when there is a module specified for a named service, the `OTHER' entries are ignored.

PAM authentication Module-type One of (currently) four types of module. The four types are as follows:

auth; this module type provides two aspects of authenticating the user. Firstly, it establishes that the user is who they claim to be, by instructing the application to prompt the user for a password or other means of identification. Secondly, the module can grant group membership (independently of the /etc/groups file discussed above) or other privileges through its credential granting properties.

account; this module performs non-authentication based account management. It is typically used to restrict/permit access to a service based on the time of day, currently available system resources (maximum number of users) or perhaps the location of the applicant user---`root' login only on the console.

session; primarily, this module is associated with doing things that need to be done for the user before/after they can be given service. Such things include the logging of information concerning the opening/closing of some data exchange with a user, mounting directories, etc. .

password; this last module type is required for updating the authentication token associated with the user. Typically, there is one module for each `challenge/response' based authentication (auth) module-type. PAM authentication


The control-flag is used to indicate how the PAM library will react to the success or failure of the module it is associated with. Since modules can be stacked (modules of the same type execute in series, one after another), the control-flags determine the relative importance of each module. The application is not made aware of the individual success or failure of modules listed in the `/etc/pam.conf' file. Instead, it receives a summary success or fail response from the Linux-PAM library. The order of execution of these modules is that of the entries in the /etc/pam.conf file; earlier entries are executed before later ones. As of Linux-PAM v0.60, this control-flag can be defined with one of two syntaxes.

The simpler (and historical) syntax for the control-flag is a single keyword defined to indicate the severity of concern associated with the success or failure of a specific module. There are four such keywords: required, requisite, sufficient and optional.

PAM authentication


The Linux-PAM library interprets these keywords in the following manner: required; this indicates that the success of the module is required for the module-type facility to succeed. Failure of this module will not be apparent to the user until all of the remaining modules (of the same module-type) have been executed.

requisite; like required, however, in the case that such a module returns a failure, control is directly returned to the application. The return value is that associated with the first required or requisite module to fail. Note, this flag can be used to protect against the possibility of a user getting the opportunity to enter a password over an unsafe medium. It is conceivable that such behavior might inform an attacker of valid accounts on a system. This possibility should be weighed against the not insignificant concerns of exposing a sensitive password in a hostile environment.

sufficient; the success of this module is deemed `sufficient' to satisfy the Linux-PAM library that this module-type has succeeded in its purpose. In the event that no previous required module has failed, no more `stacked' modules of this type are invoked. (Note, in this case subsequent required modules are not invoked.). A failure of this module is not deemed as fatal to satisfying the application that this module-type has succeeded.

Optional; as its name suggests, this control-flag marks the module as not being critical to the success or failure of the user's application for service. In general, Linux-PAM ignores such a module when determining if the module stack will succeed or fail. However, in the absence of any definite successes or failures of previous or subsequent stacked modules this module will determine the nature of the response to the application. One example of this latter case, is when the other modules return something like PAM_IGNORE. PAM authentication

Control-flag :

The more elaborate (newer) syntax is much more specific and gives the administrator a great deal of control over how the user is authenticated. This form of the control flag is delimited with square brackets and consists of a series of value=action tokens:

 [value1=action1 value2=action2 ...]

Here, valueI is one of the following return values: success; open_err; symbol_err; service_err; system_err; buf_err; perm_denied; auth_err; cred_insufficient; authinfo_unavail; user_unknown; maxtries; new_authtok_reqd; acct_expired; session_err; cred_unavail; cred_expired; cred_err; no_module_data; conv_err; authtok_err; authtok_recover_err; authtok_lock_busy; authtok_disable_aging; try_again; ignore; abort; authtok_expired; module_unknown; bad_item; and default. The last of these (default) can be used to set the action for those return values that are not explicitly defined.

The actionI can be a positive integer or one of the following tokens: ignore; ok; done; bad; die; and reset. A positive integer, J, when specified as the action, can be used to indicate that the next J modules of the current module-type will be skipped. In this way, the administrator can develop a moderately sophisticated stack of modules with a number of different paths of execution. Which path is taken can be determined by the reactions of individual modules.

PAM authentication

ignore - when used with a stack of modules, the module's return status will not contribute to the return code the application obtains.

bad - this action indicates that the return code should be thought of as indicative of the module failing. If this module is the first in the stack to fail, its status value will be used for that of the whole stack.

die - equivalent to bad with the side effect of terminating the module stack and PAM immediately returning to the application.

ok - this tells PAM that the administrator thinks this return code should contribute directly to the return code of the full stack of modules. In other words, if the former state of the stack would lead to a return of PAM_SUCCESS, the module's return code will override this value. Note, if the former state of the stack holds some value that is indicative of a modules failure, this 'ok' value will not be used to override that value.

done - equivalent to ok with the side effect of terminating the module stack and PAM immediately returning to the application.

reset - clear all memory of the state of the module stack and start again with the next stacked module. PAM authentication Each of the four keywords: required; requisite; sufficient; and optional, have an equivalent expression in terms of the [...] syntax. They are as follows:

required is equivalent to [success=ok new_authtok_reqd=ok ignore=ignore default=bad]

requisite is equivalent to [success=ok new_authtok_reqd=ok ignore=ignore default=die]

sufficient is equivalent to [success=done new_authtok_reqd=done default=ignore]

optional is equivalent to [success=ok new_authtok_reqd=ok default=ignore]

Just to get a feel for the power of this new syntax, here is a taste of what you can do with it. With Linux-PAM-0.63, the notion of client plug-in agents was introduced. This is something that makes it possible for PAM to support machine-machine authentication using the transport protocol inherent to the client/server application. With the [ ... value=action ... ] control syntax, it is possible for an application to be configured to support binary prompts with compliant clients, but to gracefully fall over into an alternative authentication mode for older, legacy, applications.

PAM authentication


The path-name of the dynamically loadable object file; the pluggable module itself. If the first character of the module path is `/', it is assumed to be a complete path. If this is not the case, the given module path is appended to the default module path: /lib/security


The args are a list of tokens that are passed to the module when it is invoked. Much like arguments to a typical Linux shell command. Generally, valid arguments are optional and are specific to any given module. Invalid arguments are ignored by a module, however, when encountering an invalid argument, the module is required to write an error to syslog(3). For a list of generic options see the next section.

Any line in (one of) the configuration file(s), that is not formatted correctly, will generally tend (erring on the side of caution) to make the authentication process fail. A corresponding error is written to the system log files with a call to syslog(3).

PAM authentication

Directory based configuration

More flexible than the single configuration file, as of version 0.56, it is possible to configure libpam via the contents of the /etc/pam.d/ directory. In this case the directory is filled with files each of which has a filename equal to a service-name (in lower-case): it is the personal configuration file for the named service.

Linux-PAM can be compiled in one of two modes. The preferred mode uses either /etc/pam.d/ or /etc/pam.conf configuration but not both. That is to say, if there is a /etc/pam.d/ directory then libpam only uses the files contained in this directory. However, in the absence of the /etc/pam.d/ directory the /etc/pam.conf file is used (this is likely to be the mode your preferred distribution uses). The other mode is to use both /etc/pam.d/ and /etc/pam.conf in sequence. In this mode, entries in /etc/pam.d/ override those of /etc/pam.conf. The syntax of each file in /etc/pam.d/ is similar to that of the /etc/pam.conf file and is made up of lines of the following form:

module-type control-flag module-path arguments The only difference being that the service-name is not present. The service-name is of course the name of the given configuration file. For example, /etc/pam.d/login contains the configuration for the login service.

PAM authentication

This method of configuration has a number of advantages over the single file approach. We list them here to assist the reader in deciding which scheme to adopt:

A lower chance of misconfiguring an application. There is one less field to mis-type when editing the configuration files by hand.

Easier to maintain. One application may be reconfigured without risk of interfering with other applications on the system.

It is possible to symbolically link different services configuration files to a single file. This makes it easier to keep the system policy for access consistent across different applications. (It should be noted, to conserve space, it is equally possible to hard link a number of configuration files. However, care should be taken when administering this arrangement as editing a hard linked file is likely to break the link.)

A potential for quicker configuration file parsing. Only the relevant entries are parsed when a service gets bound to its modules. It is possible to limit read access to individual Linux-PAM configuration files using the file protections of the filesystem.

Package management becomes simpler. Every time a new application is installed, it can be accompanied by an /etc/pam.d/xxxxxx file.

PAM authentication

The following are optional arguments which are likely to be understood by any module. Arguments (including these) are in general optional.

Debug : Use the syslog(3) call to log debugging information to the system log files.

no_warn : Instruct module to not give warning messages to the application. 
use_first_pass : The module should not prompt the user for a password. Instead, it should obtain the previously typed password (from the preceding auth module), and use that. If that doesn't work, then the user will not be authenticated. (This option is intended for auth and password modules only). 
try_first_pass : The module should attempt authentication with the previously typed password (from the preceding auth module). If that doesn't work, then the user is prompted for a password. (This option is intended for auth modules only). 
use_mapped_pass : This argument is not currently supported by any of the modules in the Linux-PAM distribution because of possible consequences associated with U.S. encryption exporting restrictions. Within the U.S., module developers are, of course, free to implement it (as are developers in other countries).

expose_account : In general the leakage of some information about user accounts is not a secure policy for modules to adopt. Sometimes information such as users names or home directories, or preferred shell, can be used to attack a user's account. In some circumstances, however, this sort of information is not deemed a threat: displaying a user's full name when asking them for a password in a secured environment could also be called being 'friendly'. The expose_account argument is a standard module argument to encourage a module to be less discrete about account information as it is deemed appropriate by the local administrator.

PAM authentication

Example configuration file entries

Default policy : If a system is to be considered secure, it had better have a reasonably secure `OTHER' entry. The following is a paranoid setting (which is not a bad place to start!):

  1. default; deny access

OTHER auth required pam_deny.so OTHER account required pam_deny.so OTHER password required pam_deny.so OTHER session required pam_deny.so

Whilst fundamentally a secure default, this is not very sympathetic to a misconfigured system. For example, such a system is vulnerable to locking everyone out should the rest of the file become badly written. The module pam_deny is not very sophisticated. For example, it logs no information when it is invoked so unless the users of a system contact the administrator when failing to execute a service application, the administrator may go for a long while in ignorance of the fact that his system is misconfigured.

PAM authentication

The addition of the following line before those in the above example would provide a suitable warning to the administrator.

  1. default; wake up! This application is not configured

OTHER auth required pam_warn.so OTHER password required pam_warn.so

Having two OTHER auth lines is an example of stacking. On a system that uses the /etc/pam.d/ configuration, the corresponding default setup would be achieved with the following file:

  1. default configuration: /etc/pam.d/other

auth required pam_warn.so auth required pam_deny.so account required pam_deny.so password required pam_warn.so password required pam_deny.so session required pam_deny.so

PAM authentication

On a less sensitive computer, one on which the system administrator wishes to remain ignorant of much of the power of Linux-PAM, the following selection of lines (in /etc/pam.conf) is likely to mimic the historically familiar Linux setup.

  1. default; standard UN*X access

OTHER auth required pam_unix.so OTHER account required pam_unix.so OTHER password required pam_unix.so OTHER session required pam_unix.so

PAM authentication Key terms, files and utilities : /etc/pam.d /etc/pam.conf /lib/libpam.so.*


System Security

Detailed Objectives (212.1)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 3

Description: Candidates should be able to configure a system to forward IP packet and perform network address translation (NAT, IP masquerading) and state its significance in protecting a network. This objective includes configuring port redirection, managing filter rules and averting attacks.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • iptables and ip6tables configuration files, tools and utilities.
  • Tools, commands and utilities to manage routing tables.
  • Private address ranges (IPv4) and Unique Local Addresses as well as Link Local Addresses (IPv6)
  • Port redirection and IP forwarding.
  • List and write filtering and rules that accept or block IP packets based on source or destination protocol, port and address.
  • Save and reload filtering configurations.

Terms and Utilities:

  • /proc/sys/net/ipv4/
  • /proc/sys/net/ipv6/
  • /etc/services
  • iptables
  • ip6tables

Configuring a router


Description: The candidate should be able to configure ipchains and iptables to perform IP masquerading, and state the significance of Network Address Translation and Private Network Addresses in protecting a network. This objective includes configuring port redirection, listing filtering rules, and writing rules that accept or block datagrams based upon source or destination protocol, port and address. Also included is saving and reloading filtering configurations, using settings in /proc/sys/net/ipv4 to respond to DOS attacks, using /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward to turn IP forwarding on and off, and usingtools such as PortSentry to block port scans and vulnerability probes.

Key files, terms, and utilities include:


Configuring a router

There are numerous steps you should take to configure a router connected to insecure networks like the Internet First of all, identify what services you need, and have a policy of blocking everything else ! This minimize your exposure to security breaches.

Common steps for routers are :

Log all dropped/rejected packets (and limit the rate at which you log, to avoid logfiles size explosion) Use NAT whenever you can – unroutable addresses are more difficult to hack Define a default policy for TCP/UDP block ports answers: drop/reject/reset ?

Dropping isn't really helpful, scanners nowadays detect it easily. Rejecting may still show that a firewall is blocking access, resetting acts as if nothing is listening (i.e the « normal » way)

Unless you know you need it, drop (and log + limit) all ICMP packets except the most useful : dest-unreachable, time-exceeded and echo-reply

Protect against known attacks, i.e : anti-spoofing of IP addresses, disable source_route packets, disable icmp_redirect, log « martians » IP addresses (i.e addresses which appear on an interface they don't belong to), disable syn_cookies, disable ECN (Explicit Congestion Notification), disable TCP timestamps, ICMP broadcasts and ICMP bogus errors


Detailed Objective (212.2)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 2

Description: Candidates should be able to configure an FTP server for anonymous downloads and uploads. This objective includes precautions to be taken if anonymous uploads are permitted and configuring user access.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Configuration files, tools and utilities for Pure-FTPd and vsftpd.
  • Awareness of ProFTPd.
  • Understanding of passive vs. active FTP connections

Terms and Utilities:

  • vsftpd.conf
  • important Pure-FTPd command line options

Securing FTP servers


Description: The candidate should be able to configure an anonymous download FTP server. This objective includes configuring an FTP server to allow anonymous uploads, listing additional precautions to be taken if anonymous uploads are permitted, configuring guest users and groups with chroot jail, and configuring ftpaccess to deny access to named users or groups.

Key files, terms, and utilities include:

ftpaccess, ftpusers, ftpgroups 

Securing an FTP server will include :

  • FTP Warning Banner customization
  • FTP Greeting Banner customization
  • Securing, denying and restricting User Accounts
  • Securing Anonymous Access
  • Securing Anonymous Upload

FTP protocol

The File Transport Protocol (FTP) is an older TCP protocol designed to transfer files over a network. Because all transactions with the server, including user authentication, are unencrypted, it is considered an insecure protocol and should be carefully configured.

wu-ftpd FTP server

We will focus on the wu-ftpd FTP server from Washington University

Wu-ftpd's main configuration files are in /etc : ftpusers,ftpaccess and ftpconversions the ftpusers file contains a list of all those users who are not allowed to log into your FTP server. As you can imagine, user root should be listed here. You should also make sure that other special user accounts such as lp, shutdown, mail, etc. are included here.

the ftpaccess file is used to configure issues such as security, user definitions, etc. It's actually the general configuration file. Some interesting settings that you can establish here are: loginfails [number]

    where number is a number that stands for the amount of times that a user is allowed to fail to authenticate before being totally disabled.

shutdown [filename]

    where filename is the name of a file that, if it exists, automatically shuts down the FTP server without a need to actually close the port in the /etc/inetd.conf file and then restarting inetd.

Finally, the ftpconversions file is used to allow the clients special "on-the-fly" conversions of files, i.e automatic uncompression of files on download

FTP Warning Banner

Returning a customized banner to FTP clients when they connect is a good idea, as it helps disguise what system the FTP server is running on. ou can send banners to incoming connections either using TCP wrappers, or as described below.

Add the ollowing line to its configuration file, /etc/ftpaccess : banner /etc/banners/warning.msg

The contents of the banner file should look something like this : Hello, all activity on ftp.example.com is logged.

FTP Greeting Banner

After login, all users are presented with a greeting banner. By default, this banner includes version information useful to crackers trying to identify weaknesses in a system.. To change the greeting banner for wu-ftpd, add the following directive to /etc/ftpusers: greeting text <insert_greeting_here> Securing FTP servers

Because FTP passes unencrypted usernames and passwords over insecure networks for authentication, it is a good idea to deny system users access to the server from their user accounts. To disable user accounts in wu-ftpd, add the following directive to /etc/ftpusers: deny-uid * To disable specific user accounts in wu-ftpd, add the username to /etc/ftpusers

Anonymous Access

The best way to setup anonymous FTP is by configuring a chroot jail : instead of allowing total access to the system, this will limit access to a given directory. In other words, after an anonymous user logs into the system she will only have access to the user ftp's home directory and nothing else. If she enters cd /, which in most other cases should take her to the system's root directory, it will only take her to /home/ftp most likely (it's the default home directory for the user ftp).

Most distributions like RedHat provide an anonymous ftp package, to help prepare the chroot jail It's important to give to your strictly FTP users no real shell account on the Linux system. In this manner, if for any reasons someone could successfully get out of the FTP chrooted environment (see below for definition), it would not have the possibility of executing any user tasks since it doesn't have a bash shell. First, create new users for this purpose. This has to be separate from a regular user account with unlimited access because of how the chroot environment works. Chroot makes it appear from the user's perspective as if the level of the file system you've placed them in is the top level of the file system.

Setup these new users with a shell as /dev/null, and add /dev/null in the list of allowed shells, /etc/shells. Make sure also that in /etc/passwd, their home dir is listed as /home/./ftp (for user ftp), even though the real dir is /home/ftp

Setup a chroot user environment : what you're essentially doing is creating a skeleton root file system with enough components necessary, binaries, password files, etc. to allow Unix to do a chroot when the user logs in. Note that wu-ftpd may be compiled with the --enable-ls option, in which case the /home/ftp/bin, and /home/ftp/lib directories are not required since this new option allows Wu-ftpd to use its own ls function. We still continue to demonstrate the old method for people that prefer to copy /bin/ls to the chroot'd FTP directory, /home/ftp/bin and create the appropriated library related tools. The following are the necessary steps to run Wu-ftpd software in a chroot jail: first create all the necessary chrooted environment directories:

[root@deep ] /# mkdir /home/ftp/dev
[root@deep ] /# mkdir /home/ftp/etc
[root@deep ] /# mkdir /home/ftp/bin
[root@deep ] /# mkdir /home/ftp/lib

Change the new directories permission to 0511 for security reasons: The chmod command will make our chrooted dev, etc, bin, and lib directories readable and executable by the super-user root and executable by the user-group and all users :

[root@deep ] /# chmod 0511 /home/ftp/dev/
[root@deep ] /# chmod 0511 /home/ftp/etc/
[root@deep ] /# chmod 0511 /home/ftp/bin
[root@deep ] /# chmod 0511 /home/ftp/lib

Copy the /bin/ls binary to /home/ftp/bin directory and change the permission of the ls program to 0111. You don't want users to be able to modify the binaries:

[root@deep ] /# cp /bin/ls /home/ftp/bin
[root@deep ] /# chmod 0111 /bin/ls /home/ftp/bin/ls

Find the shared library dependencies of the ls Linux binary program: :

[root@deep ] /# ldd /bin/ls
   libc.so.6 => /lib/libc.so.6 (0x00125000)
   /lib/ld-linux.so.2 =7gt; /lib/ld-linux.so.2 (0x00110000)

Copy the shared libraries identified above to your new lib directory under /home/ftp directory:

[root@deep ] /# cp /lib/libc.so.6 /home/ftp/lib/
[root@deep ] /# cp /lib/ld-linux.so.2 /home/ftp/lib/ 

Create your /home/ftp/dev/null file:

[root@deep ] /# mknod /home/ftp/dev/null c 1 3
[root@deep ] /# chmod 666 /home/ftp/dev/null

Copy the group and passwd files in /home/ftp/etc directory. This should not be the same as your real ones. For this reason, we'll remove all non FTP users except for the super-user root in both of these files, passwd and group.

Edit the passwd file, vi /home/ftp/etc/passwd and delete all entries except for the super-user root and your allowed FTP users. It is very important that the passwd file in the chroot environment has entries like:


(notice two things here: first, the home directory for all users inside this modified passwd file are now changed to reflect the new chrooted FTP directory i.e. /home/ftp/./ftpadmin/ begins /ftpadmin/, and also, the name of the user's login shell for the root account has been changed to /dev/null) Edit the group file, vi /home/ftp/etc/group and delete all entries except for the super-user root and all your allowed FTP users. The group file should correspond to your normal group file:


Now we must set passwd, and group files in the chroot jail directory immutable for better security.

[root@deep ] /# cd /home/ftp/etc/
[root@deep ] /# chattr +i passwd

Set the immutable bit on group file:

[root@deep ] /# cd /home/ftp/etc/
[root@deep ] /# chattr +i group

Configure your /etc/pam.d/ftp file to use pam authentication by creating the /etc/pam.d/ftp file and add the following lines:

auth    required /lib/security/pam_listfile.so item=user sense=deny \ file=/etc/ftpusers onerr=succeed
auth    required /lib/security/pam_pwdb.so shadow nullok
auth    required /lib/security/pam_shells.so
account required /lib/security/pam_pwdb.so
session required /lib/security/pam_pwdb.so

Anonymous Upload

If you want to allow anonymous users to upload, it is recommended you create a write-only directory within /var/ftp/pub/. To do this type:

mkdir /var/ftp/pub/upload

Next change the permissions so that anonymous users cannot see what is within the directory by typing:

chmod 744 /var/ftp/pub/upload

A long format listing of the directory should look like this:

drwxr--r--    2 root     ftp          4096 Aug 20 18:26 upload


Detailed Objectives (212.3)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 4

Description: Candidates should be able to configure an SSH daemon. This objective includes managing keys and configuring SSH for users. Candidates should also be able to forward an application protocol over SSH and manage the SSH login.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • OpenSSH configuration files, tools and utilities.
  • Login restrictions for the superuser and the normal users.
  • Managing and using server and client keys to login with and without password.
  • Usage of multiple connections from multiple hosts to guard against loss of connection to remote host following configuration changes.

Terms and Utilities:

  • ssh
  • sshd
  • /etc/ssh/sshd_config
  • /etc/ssh/
  • Private and public key files
  • PermitRootLogin, PubKeyAuthentication, AllowUsers, PasswordAuthentication, Protocol

Secure Shell (OpenSSH)


Description: The candidate should be able to configure sshd to allow or deny root logins, enable or disable X forwarding. This objective includes generating server keys, generating a user's public/private key pair, adding a public key to a user's authorized_keys file, and configuring ssh-agent for all users. Candidates should also be able to configure port forwarding to tunnel an application protocol over ssh, configure ssh to support the ssh protocol versions 1 and 2, disable non-root logins during system maintenance, configure trusted clients for ssh logins without a password, and make multiple connections from multiple hosts to guard against loss of connection to remote host following configuration changes.

Key files, terms, and utilities include:

ssh, sshd
~/.ssh/identity.pub, ~/.ssh/identity
.shosts, .rhosts


OpenSSH is a free, open source implementation of the SSH (Secure SHell) protocols. It replaces telnet, ftp, rlogin, rsh, and rcp with secure, encrypted network connectivity tools. OpenSSH supports versions 1.3, 1.5, and 2.0 of the SSH protocol.

If you use OpenSSH tools, you are enhancing the security of your machine. All communications using OpenSSH tools, including passwords, are encrypted. Telnet and ftp use plaintext passwords and send all information unencrypted. The information can be intercepted, the passwords can be retrieved, and then your system can be compromised by an unauthorized person logging in to your system using one of the intercepted passwords. The OpenSSH set of utilities should be used whenever possible to avoid these security problems. Another reason to use OpenSSH is that it automatically forwards the DISPLAY variable to the client machine. In other words, if you are running the X Window System on your local machine, and you log in to a remote machine using the ssh command, when you execute a program on the remote machine that requires X, it will be displayed on your local machine. This is convenient if you prefer graphical system administration tools but do not always have physical access to your server.

The ssh command is a secure replacement for the rlogin, rsh, and telnet commands. It allows you to log in to and execute commands on a remote machine.

Logging in to a remote machine with ssh is similar to using telnet. To log in to a remote machine named penguin.example.net, type the following command at a shell prompt: ssh penguin.example.net

The first time you ssh to a remote machine, you will see a message similar to the following: The authenticity of host 'penguin.example.net' can't be established.

DSA key fingerprint is 94:68:3a:3a:bc:f3:9a:9b:01:5d:b3:07:38:e2:11:0c.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? 
Type yes to continue. This will add the server to your list of known hosts as seen in the following message:
Warning: Permanently added 'penguin.example.net' (DSA) to the list of known hosts.

Next, you'll see a prompt asking for your password for the remote machine. After entering your password, you will be at a shell prompt for the remote machine. If you use ssh without any command line options, the username that you are logged in as on the local client machine is passed to the remote machine. If you want to specify a different username, use the following command:

ssh -l username penguin.example.net

You can also use the syntax ssh username@penguin.example.net. The ssh command can be used to execute a command on the remote machine without logging in to a shell prompt. The syntax is ssh hostname command. For example, if you want to execute the command ls /usr/share/doc on the remote machine penguin.example.net, type the following command at a shell prompt:

ssh penguin.example.net ls /usr/share/doc

After you enter the correct password, the contents of /usr/share/doc will be displayed, and you will return to your shell prompt.

The scp command can be used to transfer files between machines over a secure, encrypted connection. It is similar to rcp.

The general syntax to transfer a local file to a remote system is scp localfile user@hostname:/newfilename. The localfile specifies the source, and the group of user@hostname:/newfilename specifies the destination. To transfer the local file shadowman to your account on penguin.example.net, type the following at a shell prompt (replace user with your username):

scp shadowman user@penguin.example.net:/home/user

This will transfer the local file shadowman to /home/user/shadowman on penguin.example.net. The general syntax to transfer a remote file to the local system is scp user@hostname:/remotefile /newlocalfile. The remotefile specifies the source, and newlocalfile specifies the destination.

Multiple files can be specified as the source files. For example, to transfer the contents of the directory /downloads to an existing directory called uploads on the remote machine penguin.example.net, type the following at a shell prompt:

scp /downloads/* username@penguin.example.net:/uploads/

The sftp utility can be used to open a secure, interactive FTP session. It is similar to ftp except that it uses a secure, encrypted connection. The general syntax is sftp username@hostname.com. Once authenticated, you can use a set of commands similar to using FTP. Refer to the sftp manual page for a list of these commands. To read the manual page, execute the command man sftp at a shell prompt. The sftp utility is only available in OpenSSH version 2.5.0p1 and higher.

Generating Key Pairs

If you do not want to enter your password every time you ssh, scp, or sftp to a remote machine, you can generate an authorization key pair.

Note: Separate Authorization Key Pairs You must have separate authorization key pairs for SSH Protocol 1 (RSA) and SSH Protocol 2 (DSA).

Warning : Each User Needs Their Own Key Pair !

Keys must be generated for each user. To generate keys for a user, follow the following steps as the user who wants to connect to remote machines. If you complete the following steps as root, only root will be able to use the keys.

Use the following steps to generate a DSA key pair. DSA is used by SSH Protocol 2 and is the default for Red Hat. 1. To generate a DSA key pair to work with version 2.0 of the protocol, type the following command at a shell prompt:

ssh-keygen -t dsa

Accept the default file location of ~/.ssh/id_dsa. Enter a passphrase different from your account password and confirm it by entering it again.

(A passphrase is a string of words and characters used to authenticate a user. Passphrases differ from passwords in that you can use spaces or tabs in the passphrase. Passphrases are generally longer than passwords because they are usually phrases instead of just a word.)

2. Change the permissions of your .ssh directory using the command chmod 755 ~/.ssh.

3. Copy the contents of ~/.ssh/id_dsa.pub to ~/.ssh/authorized_keys2 on the machine to which you want to connect. If the file ~/.ssh/authorized_keys2 doesn't exist, you can copy the file ~/.ssh/id_dsa.pub to the file ~/.ssh/authorized_keys2 on the other machine.

Use the following steps to generate a RSA key pair for version 2.0 of the SSH protocol.

1. To generate a RSA key pair to work with version 2.0 of the protocol, type the following command at a shell prompt:

ssh-keygen -t rsa

Accept the default file location of ~/.ssh/id_rsa. Enter a passphrase different from your account password and confirm it by entering it again. [1]

2. Change the permissions of your .ssh directory using the command chmod 755 ~/.ssh.

3. Append the contents of ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub to ~/.ssh/authorized_keys2 on the machine to which you want to connect. If the file ~/.ssh/authorized_keys2 doesn't exist, you can copy the file ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub to the file ~/.ssh/authorized_keys2 on the other machine.

Use the following steps to generate an RSA key pair, which is used by version 1 of the SSH Protocol.

1. To generate an RSA (for version 1.3 and 1.5 protocol) key pair, type the following command at a shell prompt:


Accept the default file location (~/.ssh/identity). Enter a passphrase different from your account password. Confirm the passphrase by entering it again.

2. Change the permissions of your .ssh directory and your keys with the commands chmod 755 ~/.ssh and chmod 644 ~/.ssh/identity.pub.

3. Copy the contents of ~/.ssh/identity.pub to the file ~/.ssh/authorized_keys on the machine to which you wish to connect. If the file ~/.ssh/authorized_keys doesn't exist, you can copy the file ~/.ssh/identity.pub to the file ~/.ssh/authorized_keys on the remote machine.

X Forwarding

You can forward the X11 port through SSH to enable encrypted X11 connections. There's no need to export a DISPLAY variable or to call the xhost utility.

On the server-side you must check the file /etc/ssh/sshd_config to be sure that the "X11Forwarding" option is set to "yes".

On the client-side, use the -X option :

ssh -X user@remotehost

When the remote host prompt appears, start a X11 application:

xterm &

A xterm window from the remote host will open on your local desktop.


Detailed Objective

Weight: 1

Candidates should be able to configure tcpwrappers to allow connections to specified servers only from certain hosts or subnets.

  • Key knowledge area(s):
    • tcpwrappers configuration files, tools and utilities
    • (x)inetd configuration files, tools and utilities
  • The following is a partial list of the used files, terms and utilities:
    • /etc/xinetd.conf
    • /etc/xinetd.d/*
    • /etc/inetd.conf
    • tcpd
    • /etc/hosts.allow
    • /etc/hosts.deny



Description: The candidate should be able to configure tcpwrappers to allow connections to specified servers from only certain hosts or subnets.

Key files, terms, and utilities include:

inetd.conf, tcpd 
hosts.allow, hosts.deny 


The TCP wrapper is a system to control access to network services For each service protected by TCP wrappers, the tcpd program is used and consults 2 files where access rights are defined, in search order :

/etc/hosts.deny: if a rule here is met, access is denied
/etc/hosts.allow: if a rule here is met, access is allowed

Rules are constructed to match all services or specific services. If no match occurs in the two files, access is granted.

It is common to set specific rules in /etc/hosts.allow, and provide a blanket denial in /etc/hosts.deny (i.e deny everything except when specifically allowed) Rules format are :

[list of services] : [list of hosts]

i.e : deny all incoming requests except FTP from the local domain

/etc/hosts.allow :
ftp : LOCAL
/etc/hosts.deny :


Detailed Objectives (212.4)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 3

Description: Candidates should be able to receive security alerts from various sources, install, configure and run intrusion detection systems and apply security patches and bugfixes.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Tools and utilities to scan and test ports on a server.
  • Locations and organisations that report security alerts as Bugtraq, CERT or other sources.
  • Tools and utilities to implement an intrusion detection system (IDS).
  • Awareness of OpenVAS and Snort.

Terms and Utilities:

  • telnet
  • nmap
  • fail2ban
  • nc
  • iptables

Security tasks


Description: The candidate should be able to install and configure kerberos and perform basic security auditing of source code. This objective includes arranging to receive security alerts from Bugtraq, CERT, CIAC or other sources, being able to test for open mail relays and anonymous FTP servers, installing and configuring an intrusion detection system such as snort or Tripwire. Candidates should also be able to update the IDS configuration as new vulnerabilities are discovered and apply security patches and bugfixes.

Key files, terms, and utilities include:



Reference: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4: Reference Guide - Chapter 19. Kerberos (http://www.redhat.com/docs/manuals/enterprise/RHEL-4-Manual/ref-guide/ch-kerberos.html)

1. Installing Server

2. Installing Client

3. Basic Configuration (e.g. krb5.conf ..)

Security tasks

Use atelnet client to test/debug your servers This implies you know a little about the protocol used : read the corresponding RFCs Check security mailing lists such as Bugtraq, CERT, et al. regularly Patch your systems ASAP !

Run a security scanner on your system regularly Network security scanners Nessus and Netsaint are widely used, highly considered and open-source Bastille Linux is a great host-based security scanner Use some Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), both network- and hosts-based Tripwire Snort

Don't forget : security is a never-ending process, not a state or a product !


Network Troubleshooting

Detailed Objective (205.3)

(LPIC-2 Version 4.5)

Weight: 4

Description: Candidates should be able to identify and correct common network setup issues, to include knowledge of locations for basic configuration files and commands.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Location and content of access restriction files
  • Utilities to configure and manipulate ethernet network interfaces
  • Utilities to manage routing tables
  • Utilities to list network states.
  • Utilities to gain information about the network configuration
  • Methods of information about the recognized and used hardware devices
  • System initialization files and their contents (SysV init process)
  • Awareness of NetworkManager and its impact on network configuration

Terms and Utilities:

  • ip
  • ifconfig
  • route
  • ss
  • netstat
  • /etc/network, /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/
  • /bin/ping, ping6
  • traceroute, traceroute6
  • mtr
  • hostname
  • System log files such as /var/log/syslog, /var/log/messages and the systemd journal
  • dmesg
  • /etc/resolv.conf
  • /etc/hosts
  • /etc/hostname, /etc/HOSTNAME
  • /etc/hosts.allow, /etc/hosts.deny

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This License applies to any manual or other work, in any medium, that contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it can be distributed under the terms of this License. Such a notice grants a world-wide, royalty-free license, unlimited in duration, to use that work under the conditions stated herein. The "Document", below, refers to any such manual or work. Any member of the public is a licensee, and is addressed as "you". You accept the license if you copy, modify or distribute the work in a way requiring permission under copyright law.

A "Modified Version" of the Document means any work containing the Document or a portion of it, either copied verbatim, or with modifications and/or translated into another language.

A "Secondary Section" is a named appendix or a front-matter section of the Document that deals exclusively with the relationship of the publishers or authors of the Document to the Document's overall subject (or to related matters) and contains nothing that could fall directly within that overall subject. (Thus, if the Document is in part a textbook of mathematics, a Secondary Section may not explain any mathematics.) The relationship could be a matter of historical connection with the subject or with related matters, or of legal, commercial, philosophical, ethical or political position regarding them.

The "Invariant Sections" are certain Secondary Sections whose titles are designated, as being those of Invariant Sections, in the notice that says that the Document is released under this License. If a section does not fit the above definition of Secondary then it is not allowed to be designated as Invariant. The Document may contain zero Invariant Sections. If the Document does not identify any Invariant Sections then there are none.

The "Cover Texts" are certain short passages of text that are listed, as Front-Cover Texts or Back-Cover Texts, in the notice that says that the Document is released under this License. A Front-Cover Text may be at most 5 words, and a Back-Cover Text may be at most 25 words.

A "Transparent" copy of the Document means a machine-readable copy, represented in a format whose specification is available to the general public, that is suitable for revising the document straightforwardly with generic text editors or (for images composed of pixels) generic paint programs or (for drawings) some widely available drawing editor, and that is suitable for input to text formatters or for automatic translation to a variety of formats suitable for input to text formatters. A copy made in an otherwise Transparent file format whose markup, or absence of markup, has been arranged to thwart or discourage subsequent modification by readers is not Transparent. An image format is not Transparent if used for any substantial amount of text. A copy that is not "Transparent" is called "Opaque".

Examples of suitable formats for Transparent copies include plain ASCII without markup, Texinfo input format, LaTeX input format, SGML or XML using a publicly available DTD, and standard-conforming simple HTML, PostScript or PDF designed for human modification. Examples of transparent image formats include PNG, XCF and JPG. Opaque formats include proprietary formats that can be read and edited only by proprietary word processors, SGML or XML for which the DTD and/or processing tools are not generally available, and the machine-generated HTML, PostScript or PDF produced by some word processors for output purposes only.

The "Title Page" means, for a printed book, the title page itself, plus such following pages as are needed to hold, legibly, the material this License requires to appear in the title page. For works in formats which do not have any title page as such, "Title Page" means the text near the most prominent appearance of the work's title, preceding the beginning of the body of the text.

The "publisher" means any person or entity that distributes copies of the Document to the public.

A section "Entitled XYZ" means a named subunit of the Document whose title either is precisely XYZ or contains XYZ in parentheses following text that translates XYZ in another language. (Here XYZ stands for a specific section name mentioned below, such as "Acknowledgements", "Dedications", "Endorsements", or "History".) To "Preserve the Title" of such a section when you modify the Document means that it remains a section "Entitled XYZ" according to this definition.

The Document may include Warranty Disclaimers next to the notice which states that this License applies to the Document. These Warranty Disclaimers are considered to be included by reference in this License, but only as regards disclaiming warranties: any other implication that these Warranty Disclaimers may have is void and has no effect on the meaning of this License.


You may copy and distribute the Document in any medium, either commercially or noncommercially, provided that this License, the copyright notices, and the license notice saying this License applies to the Document are reproduced in all copies, and that you add no other conditions whatsoever to those of this License. You may not use technical measures to obstruct or control the reading or further copying of the copies you make or distribute. However, you may accept compensation in exchange for copies. If you distribute a large enough number of copies you must also follow the conditions in section 3.

You may also lend copies, under the same conditions stated above, and you may publicly display copies.


If you publish printed copies (or copies in media that commonly have printed covers) of the Document, numbering more than 100, and the Document's license notice requires Cover Texts, you must enclose the copies in covers that carry, clearly and legibly, all these Cover Texts: Front-Cover Texts on the front cover, and Back-Cover Texts on the back cover. Both covers must also clearly and legibly identify you as the publisher of these copies. The front cover must present the full title with all words of the title equally prominent and visible. You may add other material on the covers in addition. Copying with changes limited to the covers, as long as they preserve the title of the Document and satisfy these conditions, can be treated as verbatim copying in other respects.

If the required texts for either cover are too voluminous to fit legibly, you should put the first ones listed (as many as fit reasonably) on the actual cover, and continue the rest onto adjacent pages.

If you publish or distribute Opaque copies of the Document numbering more than 100, you must either include a machine-readable Transparent copy along with each Opaque copy, or state in or with each Opaque copy a computer-network location from which the general network-using public has access to download using public-standard network protocols a complete Transparent copy of the Document, free of added material. If you use the latter option, you must take reasonably prudent steps, when you begin distribution of Opaque copies in quantity, to ensure that this Transparent copy will remain thus accessible at the stated location until at least one year after the last time you distribute an Opaque copy (directly or through your agents or retailers) of that edition to the public.

It is requested, but not required, that you contact the authors of the Document well before redistributing any large number of copies, to give them a chance to provide you with an updated version of the Document.


You may copy and distribute a Modified Version of the Document under the conditions of sections 2 and 3 above, provided that you release the Modified Version under precisely this License, with the Modified Version filling the role of the Document, thus licensing distribution and modification of the Modified Version to whoever possesses a copy of it. In addition, you must do these things in the Modified Version:

  1. Use in the Title Page (and on the covers, if any) a title distinct from that of the Document, and from those of previous versions (which should, if there were any, be listed in the History section of the Document). You may use the same title as a previous version if the original publisher of that version gives permission.
  2. List on the Title Page, as authors, one or more persons or entities responsible for authorship of the modifications in the Modified Version, together with at least five of the principal authors of the Document (all of its principal authors, if it has fewer than five), unless they release you from this requirement.
  3. State on the Title page the name of the publisher of the Modified Version, as the publisher.
  4. Preserve all the copyright notices of the Document.
  5. Add an appropriate copyright notice for your modifications adjacent to the other copyright notices.
  6. Include, immediately after the copyright notices, a license notice giving the public permission to use the Modified Version under the terms of this License, in the form shown in the Addendum below.
  7. Preserve in that license notice the full lists of Invariant Sections and required Cover Texts given in the Document's license notice.
  8. Include an unaltered copy of this License.
  9. Preserve the section Entitled "History", Preserve its Title, and add to it an item stating at least the title, year, new authors, and publisher of the Modified Version as given on the Title Page. If there is no section Entitled "History" in the Document, create one stating the title, year, authors, and publisher of the Document as given on its Title Page, then add an item describing the Modified Version as stated in the previous sentence.
  10. Preserve the network location, if any, given in the Document for public access to a Transparent copy of the Document, and likewise the network locations given in the Document for previous versions it was based on. These may be placed in the "History" section. You may omit a network location for a work that was published at least four years before the Document itself, or if the original publisher of the version it refers to gives permission.
  11. For any section Entitled "Acknowledgements" or "Dedications", Preserve the Title of the section, and preserve in the section all the substance and tone of each of the contributor acknowledgements and/or dedications given therein.
  12. Preserve all the Invariant Sections of the Document, unaltered in their text and in their titles. Section numbers or the equivalent are not considered part of the section titles.
  13. Delete any section Entitled "Endorsements". Such a section may not be included in the Modified version.
  14. Do not retitle any existing section to be Entitled "Endorsements" or to conflict in title with any Invariant Section.
  15. Preserve any Warranty Disclaimers.

If the Modified Version includes new front-matter sections or appendices that qualify as Secondary Sections and contain no material copied from the Document, you may at your option designate some or all of these sections as invariant. To do this, add their titles to the list of Invariant Sections in the Modified Version's license notice. These titles must be distinct from any other section titles.

You may add a section Entitled "Endorsements", provided it contains nothing but endorsements of your Modified Version by various parties—for example, statements of peer review or that the text has been approved by an organization as the authoritative definition of a standard.

You may add a passage of up to five words as a Front-Cover Text, and a passage of up to 25 words as a Back-Cover Text, to the end of the list of Cover Texts in the Modified Version. Only one passage of Front-Cover Text and one of Back-Cover Text may be added by (or through arrangements made by) any one entity. If the Document already includes a cover text for the same cover, previously added by you or by arrangement made by the same entity you are acting on behalf of, you may not add another; but you may replace the old one, on explicit permission from the previous publisher that added the old one.

The author(s) and publisher(s) of the Document do not by this License give permission to use their names for publicity for or to assert or imply endorsement of any Modified Version.


You may combine the Document with other documents released under this License, under the terms defined in section 4 above for modified versions, provided that you include in the combination all of the Invariant Sections of all of the original documents, unmodified, and list them all as Invariant Sections of your combined work in its license notice, and that you preserve all their Warranty Disclaimers.

The combined work need only contain one copy of this License, and multiple identical Invariant Sections may be replaced with a single copy. If there are multiple Invariant Sections with the same name but different contents, make the title of each such section unique by adding at the end of it, in parentheses, the name of the original author or publisher of that section if known, or else a unique number. Make the same adjustment to the section titles in the list of Invariant Sections in the license notice of the combined work.

In the combination, you must combine any sections Entitled "History" in the various original documents, forming one section Entitled "History"; likewise combine any sections Entitled "Acknowledgements", and any sections Entitled "Dedications". You must delete all sections Entitled "Endorsements".


You may make a collection consisting of the Document and other documents released under this License, and replace the individual copies of this License in the various documents with a single copy that is included in the collection, provided that you follow the rules of this License for verbatim copying of each of the documents in all other respects.

You may extract a single document from such a collection, and distribute it individually under this License, provided you insert a copy of this License into the extracted document, and follow this License in all other respects regarding verbatim copying of that document.


A compilation of the Document or its derivatives with other separate and independent documents or works, in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an "aggregate" if the copyright resulting from the compilation is not used to limit the legal rights of the compilation's users beyond what the individual works permit. When the Document is included in an aggregate, this License does not apply to the other works in the aggregate which are not themselves derivative works of the Document.

If the Cover Text requirement of section 3 is applicable to these copies of the Document, then if the Document is less than one half of the entire aggregate, the Document's Cover Texts may be placed on covers that bracket the Document within the aggregate, or the electronic equivalent of covers if the Document is in electronic form. Otherwise they must appear on printed covers that bracket the whole aggregate.


Translation is considered a kind of modification, so you may distribute translations of the Document under the terms of section 4. Replacing Invariant Sections with translations requires special permission from their copyright holders, but you may include translations of some or all Invariant Sections in addition to the original versions of these Invariant Sections. You may include a translation of this License, and all the license notices in the Document, and any Warranty Disclaimers, provided that you also include the original English version of this License and the original versions of those notices and disclaimers. In case of a disagreement between the translation and the original version of this License or a notice or disclaimer, the original version will prevail.

If a section in the Document is Entitled "Acknowledgements", "Dedications", or "History", the requirement (section 4) to Preserve its Title (section 1) will typically require changing the actual title.


You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Document except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute it is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License.

However, if you cease all violation of this License, then your license from a particular copyright holder is reinstated (a) provisionally, unless and until the copyright holder explicitly and finally terminates your license, and (b) permanently, if the copyright holder fails to notify you of the violation by some reasonable means prior to 60 days after the cessation.

Moreover, your license from a particular copyright holder is reinstated permanently if the copyright holder notifies you of the violation by some reasonable means, this is the first time you have received notice of violation of this License (for any work) from that copyright holder, and you cure the violation prior to 30 days after your receipt of the notice.

Termination of your rights under this section does not terminate the licenses of parties who have received copies or rights from you under this License. If your rights have been terminated and not permanently reinstated, receipt of a copy of some or all of the same material does not give you any rights to use it.


The Free Software Foundation may publish new, revised versions of the GNU Free Documentation License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. See http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/.

Each version of the License is given a distinguishing version number. If the Document specifies that a particular numbered version of this License "or any later version" applies to it, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that specified version or of any later version that has been published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document specifies that a proxy can decide which future versions of this License can be used, that proxy's public statement of acceptance of a version permanently authorizes you to choose that version for the Document.


"Massive Multiauthor Collaboration Site" (or "MMC Site") means any World Wide Web server that publishes copyrightable works and also provides prominent facilities for anybody to edit those works. A public wiki that anybody can edit is an example of such a server. A "Massive Multiauthor Collaboration" (or "MMC") contained in the site means any set of copyrightable works thus published on the MMC site.

"CC-BY-SA" means the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license published by Creative Commons Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation with a principal place of business in San Francisco, California, as well as future copyleft versions of that license published by that same organization.

"Incorporate" means to publish or republish a Document, in whole or in part, as part of another Document.

An MMC is "eligible for relicensing" if it is licensed under this License, and if all works that were first published under this License somewhere other than this MMC, and subsequently incorporated in whole or in part into the MMC, (1) had no cover texts or invariant sections, and (2) were thus incorporated prior to November 1, 2008.

The operator of an MMC Site may republish an MMC contained in the site under CC-BY-SA on the same site at any time before August 1, 2009, provided the MMC is eligible for relicensing.

How to use this License for your documents

To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of the License in the document and put the following copyright and license notices just after the title page:

Copyright (c) YEAR YOUR NAME.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3
or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU
Free Documentation License".

If you have Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts and Back-Cover Texts, replace the "with...Texts." line with this:

with the Invariant Sections being LIST THEIR TITLES, with the
Front-Cover Texts being LIST, and with the Back-Cover Texts being LIST.

If you have Invariant Sections without Cover Texts, or some other combination of the three, merge those two alternatives to suit the situation.

If your document contains nontrivial examples of program code, we recommend releasing these examples in parallel under your choice of free software license, such as the GNU General Public License, to permit their use in free software.