Solaris Resource Manager 1.3 System Administration Guide

Delegated Administration

The primary responsibility for the administration of lnodes rests with the central administrator. While Solaris Resource Manager introduces several resource controls that may be assigned and managed, it also allows certain administrative privileges to be selectively assigned to non-root users, thereby distributing the task of user administration.

Administrative privileges may be assigned to appropriate users by setting the user's uselimadm or admin flag. A sub-administrator is a user with a set uselimadm flag who has the same limadm program administrative privilege as the superuser. A group header with a set admin flag is called a group administrator, and has privileges (as described below) over users within the same scheduling group.

The central administrator controls the overall division of the system's resources by creating and assigning limits to scheduling groups who have root as their parent. Group administrators typically perform the same types of resource control, but limited to users within their scheduling group. The division of resources by the group administrator is limited to the resources that have been allocated to the group (for example, those allocated to the group header lnode). Note that group administrators may assign an admin flag to any user in their scheduling group, further sub-dividing the administrative responsibilities.

Group administrators can do the following:

  1. Alter the resource limits of any user within their scheduling group.

    Note that even though a group administrator can set the limit of a resource to be greater than that of the limit for the group, resources consumed by group members are also considered to be consumed for group headers, and limits on individual users will be enforced when an attempt is made to exceed the group header limit.

  2. Alter any flag or attribute (except flag.uselimadm and cpu.usage) of any lnode within their scheduling group.

    Flag assignments by group administrators are further constrained in that a user cannot be given a privilege that is not already held by the group administrator. This restriction is applied to prevent a group administrator from circumventing the security within Solaris Resource Manager.

A group administrator's main tools are the limadm(1MSRM) and limreport(1SRM) commands. The limadm program performs operations on the limits, flags, and other Solaris Resource Manager attributes of one or more existing users. Combined with the report generator, limreport, these tools allow a scheduling group to be autonomously self-managed without disturbing the resource allocations or management of other, disjoint scheduling groups.

The superuser is exempt from all resource limits, always has full administrative privileges regardless of its flag settings, can add, delete, and change user accounts and is able to change any usage, limit, or flag value of any lnode by using the limadm command.


Solaris Resource Manager has a wide effect on the administration of a Solaris system, so it is important that it be installed and maintained in a manner that ensures the system is secure.

There are a number of ways in which the system administrator can ensure that the security of the Solaris Resource Manager system is maintained. The most important, as with any Solaris system, is to ensure the privacy of the root password. Anyone who knows the root user password has unrestricted access to the system's resources, the same as the central administrator.

A number of special administrative privileges can be granted to users within Solaris Resource Manager by setting certain system flags within their respective lnodes. These can help increase the security of a system because they allow delegated users to carry out the tasks that are required of them without giving them full superuser privileges.

Some of these privileges should not be granted lightly because they give the recipient user broad-ranging powers. The passwords of users possessing special privileges should be protected diligently, just as the superuser password should be protected.

There are several security precautions taken within Solaris Resource Manager to prevent misuse of the administrative privilege granted to sub-administrators: Refer to A Typical Application Server and Lnode Maintenance Programs.

There are circumstances in which the central administrator can leave the system open to security breaches if not careful with the manipulation of the structure of the scheduling tree. It is important for the central administrator to know how to correctly modify the scheduling tree and how to detect potential problems in the current structure. This is discussed in Scheduling Tree Structure.

Suggested Group Administrator Lnode Structure

A problem that group administrators might face is that they share group limits with their group members. For example, if the group header lnode has a process limit set on it, then that limit controls the number of processes that can be used by the entire group, including the group header. Unless further limited, any user within the scheduling group can prevent the group administrator from being able to create new processes simply by exceeding the process limit.

One way to prevent this is for the group administrator to set individual limits on each of the group members. However, to be effective, these limits might have to be overly restrictive. Also, forcing a group administrator to manage individual limits is at odds with the Solaris Resource Manager goal of hierarchical resource control.

An alternate way of solving this problem is for the central administrator to change the structure of the lnodes within the group. Rather than placing users directly beneath the group administrator's lnode, a "control" lnode is created below the group administrator's lnode as the only child lnode, and then users are made children of the control lnode. This results in the structure shown.

Figure 5-1 Group Administrator Lnode Structure

Diagram shows control lnode created below group administrator's lnode as only child. Users are then made children of the control lnode.

Referring to the previous figure, the UID of the group administrator's account would correspond to that of the lnode labelled "Actual," the parent of the tree. This is the lnode that would have the admin flag set. A dummy account would be created for the "Control" lnode. No login need be permitted on this account. The lnodes labelled "A," "B," and "C" correspond to users under the group administrator's control.

In this case, the process limit for the "Actual" lnode could be 100, while that of the "Control" lnode could be 90, with limits for individual users set to 0. This setup would ensure that even if users A, B, and C were using a total of 90 processes (all they are allowed), the sub-administrator can still create 10 processes.

However, it is still possible in this case for users to stop each other from creating processes. The only way to prevent this is to set individual limits on those users. In this example, those limits could be set to 40 each, still allowing flexibility while preventing a single user from completely shutting out the others.

Also note that in this example the central administrator could create extra lnodes for new users as children of the "Control" lnode without having to re-balance limits.