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
and NIS+ table. Programs use the getauthattr(3SECDB) rou-
tines 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 contain-
ing six fields separated by colons (:). Line continuations
using the backslash (\) character are permitted. The format
of each entry is:
name 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 Sun Microsystems, Inc.
use solaris as a prefix. To avoid name con-
flicts, all other authorizations should use a
prefix that begins with the reverse-order Inter-
net domain name of the organization that creates
the authorization (for example, com.xyzcompany).
Prefixes can have additional arbitrary com-
ponents 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
When a name ends with the word grant, the entry
defines a grant authorization. Grant authorizations
are used to support fine-grained delegation. Users
with appropriate grant authorizations can delegate
some of their authorizations to others. To assign an
authorization, the user needs to have both the author-
ization itself and the appropriate grant authoriza-
res1 Reserved for future use.
res2 Reserved for future use.
A short description or terse name for the authoriza-
tion. 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.
attr An optional list of semicolon-separated (;) key-value
pairs that describe the attributes of an authoriza-
tion. Zero or more keys may 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:
Example 3: Assigning Separate Authorizations to Set User
In this example, a heading entry is followed by other asso-
ciated 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:
Example 4: Assigning a Grant Authorization
This example assigns to an administrator the following
With the above authorizations, the administrator can assign
to others the solaris.admin.printer.delete,
solaris.admin.printer.modify, and solaris.admin.printer.read
authorizations, but not the solaris.login.enable authoriza-
tion. If the administrator has both the grant authoriza-
tion, solaris.admin.printmgr.grant, and the wildcard author-
ization, solaris.admin.printmgr.*, the administrator can
grant to others any of the printer authorizations. See
user_attr(4) for more information about how wildcards can be
used to assign multiple authorizations whose names begin
with the same components.
Example 5: Authorizing the Ability to Assign Other Authori-
The following entry defines an authorization that grants the
ability to assign any authorization created with a solaris
prefix, when the administrator also has either the specific
authorization being granted or a matching wildcard entry:
solaris.grant:::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 NIS table:
getprofattr(3SECDB), getuserattr(3SECDB), exec_attr(4),
When deciding which authorization source to use , keep in
mind that NIS+ provides stronger authentication than NIS.
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 nam-
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 (\).
Man(1) output converted with