[slurm-users] pam_slurm_adopt not working for all users

Michael Jennings mej at lanl.gov
Tue May 25 18:09:06 UTC 2021

On Tuesday, 25 May 2021, at 14:09:54 (+0200),
Loris Bennett wrote:

> I think my main problem is that I expect logging in to a node with a job
> to work with pam_slurm_adopt but without any SSH keys.  My assumption
> was that MUNGE takes care of the authentication, since users' jobs start
> on nodes with the need for keys.
> Can someone confirm that this expectation is wrong and, if possible, why
> the analogy with jobs is incorrect?

Yes, that expectation is incorrect.  When Slurm launches jobs, even
interactive ones, it is Slurm itself that handles connecting all the
right sockets to all the right places, and MUNGE handles the
authentication for that action.

SSHing into cluster node isn't done through Slurm; thus, sshd handles
the authentication piece by calling out to your PAM stack (by
default).  And you should think of pam_slurm_adopt as adding a
"required but not sufficient" step in your auth process for SSH; that
is, if it fails, the user can't get in, but if it succeeds, PAM just
moves on to the next module in the stack.

(Technically speaking, it's PAM, so the above is only the default
configuration.  It's theoretically possible to set up PAM in a
different way...but that's very much a not-good idea.)

> I have a vague memory that this used work on our old cluster with an
> older version of Slurm, but I could be thinking of a time before we set
> up pam_slurm_adopt.

Some cluster tools, such as Warewulf and PERCEUS, come with built-in
scripts to create SSH key pairs (with unencrypted private keys) that
had special names for any (non-system) user who didn't already have a
pair.  Maybe the prior cluster was doing something like that?  Or
could it have been using Host-based Auth?

> I have discovered that the users whose /home directories were migrated
> from our previous cluster all seem to have a pair of keys which were
> created along with files like '~/.bash_profile'.  Users who have been
> set up on the new cluster don't have these files.
> Is there some /etc/skel-like mechanism which will create passwordless
> SSH keys when a user logs into the system for the first time?  It looks
> increasingly to me that such a mechanism must have existed on our old
> cluster.

That tends to point toward the "something was doing it for you before
that is no longer present" theory.

You do NOT want to use /etc/skel for this, though.  That would cause
all your users to have the same unencrypted private key providing
access to their user account, which means they'd be able to SSH around
as each other.  That's...problematic. ;-)

> I was just getting round to the idea that /etc/profile.d might be
> the way to go, so your script looks like exactly the sort of thing I
> need.

You can definitely do it that way, and a lot of sites do.  But
honestly, you're better served by setting up Host-based Auth for SSH.
It uses the same public/private keypair KEX to authenticate each other
that is normally used for users, so as long as your hosts are secure,
you can rely on the security of HostbasedAuthentication.

With unencrypted private keys (that's what "passphraseless" really
means), you definitely can be opening the door to abuse.  If you want
to go that route, you'd likely want to set up something that users
couldn't abuse, e.g. via AuthorizedKeysCommand, rather than the
traditional in-homedir key pairs.

We use host-based for all of our clusters here at LANL, and it
simplifies a *lot* for us.  If you want to give it a try, there's a
good cookbook here:


Michael E. Jennings <mej at lanl.gov> - [PGPH: he/him/his/Mr]  --  hpc.lanl.gov
HPC Systems Engineer   --   Platforms Team   --  HPC Systems Group (HPC-SYS)
Strategic Computing Complex, Bldg. 03-2327, Rm. 2341    W: +1 (505) 606-0605
Los Alamos National Laboratory,  P.O. Box 1663,  Los Alamos, NM   87545-0001

More information about the slurm-users mailing list