Cumulus Linux implements TACACS+ client AAA (Accounting, Authentication, and Authorization) in a transparent way with minimal configuration. There is no need to create accounts or directories on the switch. Authentication is handled via PAM, and includes
su. Accounting records are sent to all configuredTACACS+ servers by default. Use of per-command authorization requires additional setup on the switch.
By default, TACACS+ privilege 15 users are allowed to run any command with sudo via the
/etc/sudoers.d/tacplus file that is installed by the
Installing the TACACS+ Client Packages
TACACS+ requires the following packages to be installed on Cumulus Linux. They are not part of the base Cumulus Linux image installation. All required packages can be installed easily with these commands:
Configuring the TACACS+ Client
Post-installation TACACS+ configuration requires (at minimum) editting only one file, /etc/tacplus_servers. It is necessary add at least one server, and usually one shared secret (key). The
server and secret parameters can be given in any order, and must not include any whitespace (spaces or tabs), and can be added anywhere in the file. For example, if your TACACS+ server IP address is
192.168.0.30, and your shared secret is
tacacskey then you would add these parameters to
Up to 7 TACACS+ servers are supported. Connections are made in the order in which they are listed in this file. In most cases, no other parameters need to be changed. All parameters used by any of the packages can be added to this file, and will affect all the TACACS+ client software. It is also possible to configure some of the packages through individual configuration files. For example, the timeout value (see description below) is set to 5 seconds by default for NSS lookups in
/etc/tacplus_nss.conf, while other packages use a value of 10 seconds, set in /
When TACACS+ servers or secrets are added or removed,
auditd must be restarted (with
systemctl restart auditd) or a signal must be sent (with
killall -HUP audisp-tacplus) before
audisp-tacplus will reread the configuration to see the changed server list. Usually this is an issue only at first change to the configuration.
At this point, the Cumulus Linux switch should be able to query the TACACS server.
This is the complete list of the TACACS+ client configuration files, and their use. The full list of TACACS+ parameters is below at TACACS Parameters below.
|/etc/tacplus_servers||This is the primary file that requires configuration post-installation, and is used by all packages via |
|/etc/nsswitch.conf||When the |
|/etc/tacplus_nss.conf||This file sets the basic parameters for |
|/usr/share/pam-configs/tacplus||Configuration file for |
|/etc/sudoers.d/tacplus||This file allows TACACS+ privilege level 15 users to run commands with |
|/etc/audisp/audisp-tac_plus.conf||TACACS+ server configuration file for accounting. In general, no modifications are required. It may be useful to use this configuration file when you only want to debug TACACS+ accounting issues, not all TACACS+ users.|
|/etc/audit/audit.rules||Audit rules file generated during |
/etc/pam.d/common-* files can be edited manually. However, if
pam-auth-update is run again after the changes are made, the update will fail. Configuration should be done in
/usr/share/pam-configs/tacplus instead, followed by running
TACACS+ Authentication (login)
The initial authentication configuration is done through the PAM modules, and an updated version of the
libpam-tacplus package. When the package is installed, the PAM configuration is updated in
/etc/pam.d with the
pam-auth-update command. If you have made changes to your PAM configuration, you may need to integrate these changes yourself. If you are also using LDAP with the
libpam-ldap package, you will need to edit the PAM configuration to ensure the LDAP and TACACS ordering that you prefer. The
libpam-tacplus are configured to skip over rules, and the values in the
success=2 may require adjustments to skip over LDAP rules.
TACACS+ users at privilege levels other than 15 are not allowed to run
sudo commands by default, and are limited to commands that can be run with standard Linux user permissions.
TACACS+ accounting is implemented with the
audisp module, with an additional plugin for
audisp. The plugin maps the auid in the accounting record to a TACACS login, based on the auid and sessionid. The
audisp module requires
libnss_tacplus, and uses the
libtacplus_map.so library interfaces as part of the modified
Communication with the TACACS+ servers is done via the
libsimple-tacact1 library, through
dlopen(). A maximum of 240 bytes of command name and arguments are sent in the accounting record, due to the TACACS+ field length limitation of 255 bytes.
All Linux commands result in an accounting record, including commands run as part of the login process or as a sub-processes of other commands. This can sometimes generate a large number of accounting records.
The IP address and encryption key of the server should be configured in the
/etc/tacplus_servers file. Minimal configuration to
audisp is necessary to enable the audit records necessary for accounting. These records are installed as part of the package.
audisp-tacplus installs the audit rules for command accounting. Modifying the configuration files is not usually necessary. However, when a management VRF is configured, the accounting configuration does need special modification, because the
auditd service starts prior to networking. It is necessary add the vrf parameter, and to signal the
audisp-tacplus process to reread the configuration. The example below shows that the management VRF is named mgmt. The vrf parameter can be placed in either
/etc/tacplus_servers or in
After editing the configuration file, notify the accounting process to reread it by sending the HUP signal:
killall -HUP audisp-tacplus.
sudo commands run by TACACS+ users generate accounting records against the original TACACS+ login name.
For more information, refer to the
auditd.8 man pages.
Configuring NCLU for TACACS+ Users
NCLU has its own configuration file to enable TACACS+ privilege level 0 users to run the
net command. Edit the
/etc/netd.conf file, then:
- To give a TACACS+ user access to the show commands, add that user to the
users_with_showline, then add the tacacs group to the
- To give a TACACS+ user access to the edit commands (for all the NCLU write commands and to restart services with NCLU), add that user to the
Do not add the tacacs group to the
groups_with_edit line, as this is dangerous and can potentially enable any user to log into the switch as the root user.
If the user/command combination is not authorized by the TACACS+ server, a message similar to the following gets displayed:
TACACS+ Per-command Authorization
Per-command authorization is handled with the
tacplus-auth command. To make this an enforced authorization, the TACACS+ login must be changed to use a restricted shell, with a very limited executable search path. Otherwise, the user can bypass the authorization. The
tacplus-restrict utility simplifies the setup of the restricted environment. The example below initializes the environment for the tacacs0 user account. This is the account used for TACACS+ users at privilege level
|-i||Initializes the environment. It only needs to be issued once per username.|
|-a||The utility can be invoked with the |
Re-initializes the environment. If you need to start over, issue the
As a full example, if you want to allow the user to be able to run the
ip commands (potentially, if the TACACS+ server authorizes), use the command:
After running this command, examining the
tacacs0 directory should show something similar to the following:
Other than shell built-ins, the only two commands the privilege level 0 TACACS users can run are the
If you mistakenly add potential commands with the
-a option, you can remove the commands that you don't want (the example below shows the
Or you can remove all the commands with:
man command on the switch for more information on
When used with
pam_tacplus, TACACS+ authenticated users are able to log in without a local account on the system via the NSS plugin that comes with the
tacplus_nss package. The plugin uses the mapped
tacplus information if the user is not found in the local password file, provides the
getpwuid()entry point,s and uses the TACACS+ authentication functions.
The plugin asks the TACACS+ server if the user is known, and then for relevant attributes to determine the user’s privilege level. When the
libnss_tacplus package is installed,
nsswitch.conf is be modified to set
tacplus as the first lookup method for
passwd. If the order is changed, lookups will return the local accounts such as
If the user is not found, a mapped lookup is performed using the
libtacplus_map.so exported functions. The privilege level is appended to “tacacs”, and the lookup searches for the name in the local password file. For example, privilege level 15 will search for the tacacs15 user. If the user is found, the password structure is filled in with the user’s information.
If it is not found, the privilege level is decremented and checked again, until privilege level 0 (user t
acacs0) is reached. This allows use of only the two local users
tacacs15, if minimal configuration is desired.
TACACS Configuration Parameters
The recognized configuration options are the same as the
libpam_tacplus command line arguments; not all
pam_tacplus options are supported, however. These configuration parameters are documented in the
tacplus_servers.5 man page, which is part of the
The table below describes the configuration options available:
Output debugging information via
Debugging is heavy, including passwords. Do not leave debugging enabled on a production switch once you have completed troubleshooting.
|secret=STRING||Secret key used to encrypt/decrypt packets sent to/received from the server. Can be specified more than once, and can be in any order with respect to the server= parameter. When fewer secret= parameters are specified, the last secret given is used for the remaining servers. This parameter should only be put into files such as /etc/tacplus_servers that are not world readable.|
Adds a TACACS+ server to the servers list. Servers will be queried in turn until a match is found, or no servers remain in the list. Can be specified up to 7 times. When the IP_ADDR form is used, it can be optionally followed by a port number, preceded by a ":". The default port is 49.
When sending accounting records, the record is sent to all servers in the list if
|timeout=SECONDS||TACACS+ server(s) communication timeout. The default value is 5 seconds.|
TACACS+ authentication service (pap, chap, or login). The default value is pap.
This is not enabled by default. When enabled, a separate home directory for each TACACS+ user is created when the TACACS+ user first logs in. By default, the home directory in the mapping accounts in
This option is not honored for accounts with restricted shells when per-command authorization is enabled.
Configuration option for
|timeout=SECS||Sets the timeout in seconds for connections to each TACACS+ server. The default is 10 seconds for all lookups except that NSS lookups use a 5 second timeout.|
If the management network is in a VRF, set this variable to the VRF name. This would usually be "mgmt". When this variable is set, the connection to the TACACS+ accounting servers is made through the named VRF.
TACACS+ accounting and authorization service. Examples include shell, pap, raccess, ppp, and slip.
The default value is shell.
TACACS+ protocol field. This option is use dependent.
PAM uses the SSH protocol.
Removing the TACACS+ Client Packages
To remove all of the TACACS+ client packages, use the following commands:
To remove the TACACS+ client configuration files as well as the packages (recommended), use this command:
Debugging Basic Server Connectivity or NSS Issues
getent command can be used to determine whether TACACS+ is configured correctly, and the local password is stored in the configuration files. In the example commands below, the cumulus user represents the local user, while cumulusTAC represents the TACACS user.
To look up the username within all NSS methods:
To look up the user within the local database only:
To look up the user within the TACACS+ database only:
If TACACS does not appear to be working correctly, the following configuration files should be debugged by adding the debug=1 parameter to one or more of these files:
debug=1 can also be added to individual
pam_tacplus lines in
All log messages are stored in
Incorrect Shared Key
The TACACS client on the switch and the TACACS server should have the same shared secret key. If this key is incorrect, the following messages is printed to
Debugging Issues with Per-command Authorization
To debug TACACS user command authorization, have the TACACS+ user enter the following command at a shell prompt, and then try the command again:
When this debugging is enabled, additional information is shown for the command authorization conversation with the TACACS+ server:
To disable debugging:
Debug Issues with Accounting Records
If TACACS+ servers have been added or deleted from the configuration files, make sure you notify the audisp plugin with this command:
If accounting records still are not being sent, add debug=1 to the file
/etc/audisp/audisp-tac_plus.conf, and then issue the command above to notify the plugin. Then have the TACACS+ user run a command, and examine the end of
/var/log/syslog for messages from the plugin. You can also check the auditing log file
/var/log/audit/audit.log to be sure the auditing records are being written. If they are not, restart the audit daemon with:
TACACS Component Software Descriptions
These different pieces of software are involved with delivering TACACS. Provided below is a brief description of their functionalities.
|audisp-tacplus_1.0.0-1-cl3u3||This package uses auditing data from |
|libtac2_1.4.0-cl3u2||Basic TACACS+ server utility and communications routines.|
|libnss-tacplus_1.0.1-cl3u3||Provides an interface between |
|tacplus-auth-1.0.0-cl3u1||This package provides the ability to do per-command TACACS+ authorization, and a setup utility tacplus-restrict to enable that. Per-command authorization is not done by default.|
|libpam-tacplus_1.4.0-1-cl3u2||A modified version of the standard Debian package.|
|libtacplus-map1_1.0.0-cl3u2||The mapping functionality between local and TACACS+ users on the server. Sets the immutable |
|libsimple-tacacct1_1.0.0-cl3u2||Provides an interface for programs to send accounting records to the TACACS+ server. Used by |
|Provides the “tacc” testing program and TACACS+ man page.|
TACACS+ Client Is only Supported through the Management Interface
The TACACS+ client is only supported through the switch's management interface, which could be eth0 or eth1, or even the VRF management interface. The TACACS+ client is not supported through bonds, switch virtual interfaces (SVIs) or switch port interfaces (swp).
Multiple TACACS+ Users
If two or more TACACS+ users are logged in simultaneously, with the same privilege level, while the accounting records are maintained correctly, a lookup on either name will match both users, while a UID lookup will only return the user that logged in first.
This means that any processes run by either user will be attributed to both, and all files created by either user will be attributed to the first name matched. This is similar to adding two local users to the password file with the same UID and GID, and is an inherent limitation of using the UID for the base user from the password file.
The current algorithm returns the first name matching the UID from the mapping file; this could be the first or second user that logged in.
To work around this issue, the switch’s audit log or the TACACS server accounting logs can be used to determine which processes and files were created by each user.
For commands that do not execute other commands (for example, changes to configurations in an editor, or actions with tools like
vtysh), no additional accounting is done.
Per-command authorization is not implemented in this release except at the most basic level (commands are permitted or denied based on the standard Linux user permissions for the local TACACS users, and only privilege level 15 users can run
sudocommands by default).
auditd system does not always generate audit events for processes when terminated with a signal (via the
kill system call or internal errors such as SIGSEGV). As a result, processes that exit on a signal that isn’t caught and handled may not generate a STOP accounting record.
Issues with deluser Command
TACACS+ and other non-local users that run the
deluser command with the
--remove-home option will see an error about not finding the user in
However, the command does remove the home directory. The user can still log in on that account, but will not have a valid home directory. This is a known upstream issue with the
deluser command for all non-local users.
--remove-home option should only be used when the
user_homedir=1 configuration command is in use.