I'm trying to set up a basic http auth using the linux system credentials using pam. I installed the nginx-extras package and i can see that the pam dynamic module is getting loaded into nginx. My "nginx -V" output contains this:


I created an nginx file in /etc/pam.d which simply contains:

@include common-auth

My sites-enabled file under /etc/nginx looks like this:

server { listen 80; server_name localhost; root /home/admin/Apps/seaWeb; location /{ auth_pam "Secure Zone"; auth_pam_service_name "nginx"; try_files $uri $uri/ /index.html; } }

Now, whenever i try to restart nginx, i keep getting this from the error log:

2016/12/07 12:35:10 [emerg] 2980#2980: unknown directive "auth_pam" in /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/seaWeb:1

I basically tried to follow all the instructions under here: http://www.doublecloud.org/2014/01/nginx-with-pam-authentication/

Looked online and here, but couldn't find any clues. Someone suggested that extra newlines may be an issue but doesn't look that way.

Any suggestions on what i'm missing here.

1 Answer 1


The 1.10 version of nginx now supports loadable modules. If you install the libnginx-mod-http-auth-pam package you will get the auth_pam module.

So, you need to do the following:

sudo apt-get install libnginx-mod-http-auth-pam
sudo ln -s /usr/share/nginx/modules-available/mod-http-auth-pam.conf /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/50-mod-http-auth-pam.conf
# Add 'include /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/*.conf;' near the top of /etc/nginx/nginx.conf if it isn't there already
sudo systemctl restart nginx

That will install the module and configure it to be loaded when nginx starts.

  • FYI, if you’re using shadow file auth, you need root privileges to read /etc/shadow, I believe. If you use LDAP or AD or similar it should work assuming PAM works...
    – Rouben
    Dec 31, 2019 at 1:35
  • I think the package is nginx-extras these days. libnginx-mod-http-auth-pam didn't exist for me.
    – Herbert
    Apr 25, 2020 at 12:29

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