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11.6. Using PAM

Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM) is a flexible mechanism for authenticating users. Many Unix-like systems support PAM, including Solaris, nearly all Linux distributions (e.g., Red Hat Linux, Caldera, and Debian as of version 2.2), and FreeBSD as of version 3.1. By using PAM, your program can be independent of the authentication scheme (passwords, SmartCards, etc.). Basically, your program calls PAM, which at run-time determines which ``authentication modules'' are required by checking the configuration set by the local system administrator. If you're writing a program that requires authentication (e.g., entering a password), you should include support for PAM. You can find out more about the Linux-PAM project at http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/libs/pam/index.html.