User Account Setup

Introduction

A good place to put in notes about anything related to accounts in the CSCF context, whether they be user, system, groups, etc. Technical notes. It can also include proposed newer setups such as using Active Directory.

Definition: In a more general context the term account would tend imply the reckoning of a monetary balance, often with a history of credits and debits. In relation to computers, however, account is often used to refer to the login userid which works for some particular computer system whether or not any money is involved. To make things complicated, some software involved with login userid maintenance actually does allow for the use of related monetary accounts.

Account Management Methods

WatIAM Accounts

  • WatIAM Accounts - are required by, but not part of, other accounts maintenance.

Sponsors Data Accounts

Information about most accounts is maintained on the UNIX computer cscf.cs.uwaterloo.ca in the hierarchical text file data base under the directory /software/accounts-master/data/sponsors. Computer programs are used to update remote machines to reflect the information there. The software itself really only imposes a distinction between two different types of accounts maintenance.
  • Registrar Sponsored Accounts - driven primarily by data automatically received from the Registrar's Office (graduate and undergraduate are not fundamentally different)
  • Other Accounts - no automatic information is used to drive the creation of these accounts; updates must be manual

Any other distinctions arise because of how the users of the software decided to organize their data. Here is an attempted explanation of the organization.

Maintaining Specific Types of Accounts

Procedures are determined by a combination of the operating requirements of the sponsors data base software and previously agreed-upon conventions in the organization of the files it uses. Note that in some cases the conventions will have been agreed-upon by only a single person. Also sometimes constraints of other software helped determine the necessary procedures and conventions.

An Assertion of Generality (by AdrianPepper)

Here's another approach to presenting the same information TemplateSponsorDataAccountsCollapsed.

System-wide accounts, generally automated (maintained by AdrianPepper)

Administrative accounts (maintained by Wendy)

Research accounts (maintained by the Research Support Group)

Creating Truly New Users (Userids)

This has been glossed over. In many cases user names and identification numbers already exist, precreated in WatIAM. In other limited cases, the correct thing to do is create a userid which really should, for various reasons, not be put in WatIAM. And occasionally you need to do things to cause the WatIAM account creation. Perhaps see these notes.

The magic Userids file

But, in any case, before you can use the sponsors data software to create new accounts for a userid, that userid must be defined in the file /software/accounts-userids/data/Userids (on the UNIX computer cscf.cs.uwaterloo.ca). Often, but not always, that happens automatically. That's why it's magic.

The userinfo command will give no results for the userid if it is not present in this file. That is, if userinfo gives output, you can proceed. If not, more work is needed to get the userid into the file.

If you think you need to modify or create records in this file, see these notes or specifically these.

The old account configuration using the xhier packages setpw

How do restricted shells get put into a passwd file

Specifically how does a user's shell become equal to /software/setpw/servers/restricted.

The answer is provided by the setpw-config man page. The setup in the CS environment is described by setpw-config-old man page.

The users listed, one per line, in the file /software/setpw/data/config/non-restricted-users on a regional client for which the passwd file is built are the the users who will get a standard shell rather than /software/setpw/servers/restricted. Now, the reader should have noted the special emphasis on the word built. Specifically this means the setpw client hostname appears on a single line within a file on the setpw regional master (in the student xheir region this is student.cs and in the core region, core.cs) in the directory /software/setpw/data/config/hosts/ whose name has the form hosts.some-name.rebuild.restrict where some-name is usually chosen to be informative.

The management of the non-restricted-users file

The graphics lab in MC6055 and the Nortel Lab (room number escapes me?) are two labs in which access is restricted to specific users. Since both of these labs have uniform architectures it is not necessary to build the passwd on each of the host but only one of them and then use the rdist mode of passwd distribution, that is, copying the files over. As the build process can take valuable cpu power the build hosts are not machines in the lab.

On student.cs the non-restricted-users file are generated whenever accounts_client command is executed albeit the exact path to this end goal is quite twisty.

accounts-client dissection

Active Directory

Windows account information is stored in their version of LDAP, called ADS or active directory server, see CSCFActiveDirectory for some notes on how this is done in CSCF.

Using ADS to authenticate Unix hosts

There is a project to have the student region authenticate using Windows Active Directory managed directory services. Basic to this process is Kerberos version 5, see ADAddUbuntu for some notes on how to get Ubuntu Linux to authenticate the ADS in the CS-GENERAL domain which would equally apply to other domains. :
Topic revision: r38 - 2013-07-30 - DrewPilcher
Information in this area is meant for use by CSCF staff and is not official documentation, but anybody who is interested is welcome to use it if they find it useful.


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