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man pages section 4: File Formats

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Updated: July 2017



auth_attr - authorization description database




/etc/security/auth_attr is a local source for authorization names and descriptions. The auth_attr file can be used with other authorization sources, including the auth_attr NIS map. Programs use the getauthattr(3C) routines to access this information.

The search order for multiple authorization sources is specified in the /etc/nsswitch.conf file, as described in the nsswitch.conf(4) man page.

An authorization is a right assigned to users that is checked by certain privileged programs to determine whether users can execute restricted functionality. Each entry in the auth_attr database consists of one line of text containing six fields separated by colons ( :). Line continuations using the backslash (\) character are permitted. The format of each entry is:


The name of the authorization. Authorization names are unique strings. Construct authorization names using the following convention:

prefix. or prefix.suffix


Everything in the name field up to the final dot (.). Authorizations from Oracle Solaris use solaris as a prefix. To avoid name conflicts, all other authorizations should use a prefix that begins with the reverse–order Internet domain name of the organization that creates the authorization (for example, com.xyzcompany). Prefixes can have additional arbitrary components chosen by the authorization's developer, with components separated by dots.


The final component in the name field. Specifies what is being authorized.

When there is no suffix, the name is defined as a heading. Headings are not assigned to users but are constructed for use by applications in their GUIs.

To assign an authorization, the user needs to have both the authorization itself and the solaris.auth.delegate authorization.


The characters RO in this field indicate it is read only and not modifiable by the tools that update this database.


Reserved for future use.


A short description or terse name for the authorization. This name should be suitable for displaying in user interfaces, such as in a scrolling list in a GUI.


A long description. This field can explain the precise purpose of the authorization, the applications in which it is used, and the type of user that would be interested in using it. The long description can be displayed in the help text of an application.


An optional list of semicolon-separated (;) key-value pairs that describe the attributes of an authorization. Zero or more keys can be specified. The keyword help identifies a help file in HTML.


Example 1 Constructing a Name

In the following example, the name has a prefix (solaris.admin.usermgr) followed by a suffix (read):

Example 2 Defining a Heading

Because the name field ends with a dot, the following entry defines a heading:

solaris.user.:::User Accounts::help=AuthUsermgrHeader.html

Example 3 Assigning Separate Authorizations to Set User Attributes

In this example, a heading entry is followed by other associated authorization entries. The entries below the heading provide separate authorizations for setting user attributes. The attr field for each entry, including the heading entry, assigns a help file. The application that uses the help key requires the value to equal the name of a file ending in .htm or .html:

solaris.role.:::Role Accounts::help=AuthRoleManageHeader.html
solaris.role.manage:::Manage Role Accounts::help=AuthRoleManage.html
solaris.role.delegate:::Delegate Role Accounts::help=AuthRoleDelegate.html

Example 4 Assigning a Grant Authorization

This example assigns to an administrator the following authorizations:


With the above authorizations, the administrator can assign to others the solaris.user.manage and solaris.role.manage authorizations, but not any other authorization. If the administrator has both the solaris.auth.delegate and the solaris.*.manage authorization, it would be equivalent to the above authorizations. See user_attr(4) for more information about how wildcards can be used to assign multiple authorizations whose names have the same components.

Example 5 Authorizing the Ability to Assign Other Authorizations

The following entry defines an authorization that grants the ability to assign any authorization.

solaris.auth.assign:::Grant All Solaris Authorizations::help=PriAdmin.html

Example 6 Consulting the Local Authorization File Ahead of the NIS Table

With the following entry from /etc/nsswitch.conf, the local auth_attr file is consulted before the LDAP name service:

auth_attr:files ldap





Locally added entries. Make sure that the shipped header remains intact.


Entries added by package installation.

See Also

auths(1), getauthattr(3C), getexecattr(3C), getprofattr(3C), getuserattr(3C), exec_attr(4), nsswitch.conf(4), user_attr(4)


Because the list of legal keys is likely to expand, any code that parses this database must be written to ignore unknown key-value pairs without error. When any new keywords are created, the names should be prefixed with a unique string, such as the company's stock symbol, to avoid potential naming conflicts.

Each application has its own requirements for whether the help value must be a relative pathname ending with a filename or the name of a file. The only known requirement is for the name of a file.

The following characters are used in describing the database format and must be escaped with a backslash if used as data: colon (:), semicolon (;), equals (=), and backslash (\).

The authorization required to add/modify/delete authorizations is solaris.auth.manage. The solaris.auth.assign authorization allows an authorized user to grant any authorization to a user. The solaris.auth.delegate allows an authorized user to grant only the user's authorizations to another user.