Authorization/Authentication Authority

LD Landis (
Fri, 13 Dec 1996 11:10:26 -0600 (CST)


In a recent issue of UNIX Review (which I can't find right now, grrr, but
it was this fall, I think), there was an article about what it would take
to make UNIX a "well behaved" entity relative to security, etc. The
model with which the conventional "UNIX Security Model" was contrasted
was, of course, that of IBM MVS (where access questions are answered by
a separate autonomous entity).

Now, having hacked kernel stuff from time to time, and also having to be
sure to "do the right thing" (relative to security)... and given the
current state of Linux (very good, IMO)... I've been thinking lately...

What is the likelihood of separating out the authentication/authorization,
security, etc, etc, etc according to such a scheme? It seems to me that
this would be relatively straight forward, given the current facilities
in Linux, and would be a real win for those needing "advanced" features.

With such a partioning, if someone needed some special "ACL - Access
Control List" or even a non-generalizable security measure (or something
that no one else would want), there would be a central place through
which such requests would go. This would allow easier customization,
etc, as well.

For example (using 2.0.22 sources), logic such as namei.c:permission()
and others would be placed "outside" the kernel. I know that this is not
a trivial change, and there are scads of similar tests embedded throughout
the kernel sources... But am curious if articles like that have encouraged
some of the key developers to be thinking in these directions, or is it
just to wrenching to consider?

LD Landis ldl@HealthPartners.Com N0YRQ    Voice 612/883-5511 Fax 612/883-6363
HealthPartners, 8100 34th Avenue So, PO Box 1309, Minneapolis, MN  55440-1309
Shape your life not from your memories, but from your hopes.       (Borrowed)