looking for a good/best practice soln for dealing with multiple users, accessing multiple linux servers within a network... the users will be accessing the network remotely, tunneling behind the firewall..

the assumption is that a given server might be the physical server with each user's home/working dir. the idea is to allow users who need access, to be able to login/access the dirs/apps on other boxes as required. but there's no need to have a separate user/passwd for each box. so what's a good/best approach to accomplish this?

thoughts/comments appreciated..


  • What's your linux distribution ? – Kami Feb 16 '10 at 15:08

I've asked the same question some days ago:

Centralize authentication and user's home folder

Response :

Most common solutions are NIS+NFS or LDAP+NFS. NIS is easier to set up than LDAP, but LDAP supports multiple OSes and is more flexible in that sense. I would recommend using one of these two since both are well documented and established in the industry.

I've installed NIS+NFS, so far it was an easy setup. I have 1 server sharing users home folder with nfs and authenticate users with nis for the others servers !

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  • I would suggest taking the time to do an LDAP deployment. NIS isn't terrible, but having worked with both (NIS for longer than I care to admit) I much prefer the LDAP-backed solution – voretaq7 Feb 16 '10 at 15:23

There's a whole bunch of ways to do this. Probably the most popular, modern way is using Kerberos and PAM. The "old standy" is NIS. Some people might point you at OpenLDAP, but keep in mind that LDAP is a directory service, not an authentication service. Attempts to "authenticate off of LDAP" are hacks normally used to shoehorn Linux into an existing Active Directory network.

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  • Kerberos is pretty nice, but in my experience it's a pain to set up (it may have gotten easier in the last 3 or so years though, and worth considering even if it hasn't). In defense of LDAP: /etc/passwd is nothing more than a directory of users, and I don't find it's PAM/NSS integration any clunkier than Kerberos :) – voretaq7 Feb 16 '10 at 16:10

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