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SUDO Integration for AIX


First a little background information regarding sudo on AIX:
As you might or might not know, sudo can be installed on AIX from various packages coming from various sources. IBM provides its own version of the sudo package through the AIX toobox for Linux applications initiative, but there are several [newer/better] packages out there.

The problem with integrating sudo on AIX with freeIPA is that most sudo packages compiled for AIX are NOT compiled with LDAP support. Although sudo’s documentation states that sudo supports different LDAP implementations, other than OpenLDAP, I suppose it doesn’t work well with AIX’s LDAP filesets. That’s just my guess why most sudo packages for AIX aren’t compiled with LDAP support.

The good news is that Michel Perzl, has successfully compiled a sudo package with LDAP support, however it is compiled against OpenLdap and not AIX’s LDAP fileset. This means that you'll have to install OpenLdap as a dependency on you AIX LPAR.

Important Notices

I cannot assure you that the procedures described on this article will work 100% of the time across all the AIX installations out there.
Please proceed with caution and preferably try this out in a non-production environment before doing this in your production AIX environment.

What I can assure you: None of my LPARs have presented LDAP/Kerberos authentication or SSH issues (performed with IBM's filesets) after the execution of this procedure. So from my perspective its safe to say that:

  1. The OpenLDAP package being installed with the following RPM package will not interfere with other LDAP packages, such as the IBM LDAP fileset, you might have installed on yout AIX LPAR.
  2. The OpenSSL package being installed with the following RPM pacakge will not interfere with OpenSSL packages, such as the IBM OpenSSL fileset, you might have installed on yout AIX LPAR.


I have successfully implemented the procedures described on this article on AIX LPARs runnning the following versions of AIX:

  • 5.3
  • 6.1
  • 7.1

I have not tested the procedures described on this article on VIO LPARs and I advise you all against it as it might void IBM's warranty. However, technically speaking, it should work just fine on the oem_setup_env environment level.

Getting started

This section describes the things you need to check, download and setup before you can continue.

Check your current sudo setup

If you are interested in this article its very likely that you already have sudo installed on you AIX LPAR and perhaps you inadvertently, or luckly, might already be running a LDAP ready sudo binary. If you don't have sudo installed on your LPAR yet, you should disregard the following check.

Before you go any further, removing and installing a different sudo packages, check if your current sudo binary was compiled with LDAP support. Unless you got your sudo package from Michale's repository its most likely your sudo won't have LDAP support, however, just to be sure, check it by running the following command as root:

sudo -V | grep -i ldap

If your output does not present the highlighted information bellow, your sudo is not LDAP ready:

Configure options: --prefix=/opt/freeware --sbindir=/opt/freeware/sbin --libdir=/opt/freeware/lib --mandir=/opt/freeware/man --with-logging=syslog --with-logfac=auth --without-pam --with-editor=/usr/bin/vi --with-env-editor --with-ignore-dot --with-aixauth --with-ldap --with-passprompt=[sudo] password for %p:  --with-tty-tickets
ldap.conf path: /etc/ldap.conf
ldap.secret path: /etc/ldap.secret

Create directories

Create one temporary directory to hold the rpm packages you are going to download. I'll use /tmp/sudo for such purpose.
Create one directory to hold your ca certificate. I'll use /etc/ipa for such purpose.

Download packages

Head to Michael's website and download the following RPM packages on their latest versions:

Head to the AIX Toolbox for Linux Applications website and download the gettext RPM on its latest version. No IBM login is required to download packages from the AIX Toolbox.

The reason you should download the gettext RPM package from the AIX Toolbox for Linux Applications website and not from Michael's website is because whenever the RPM binary, which is provided by the rpm.rte fileset, gets updated on AIX (by an TL update for instance) the gettext libs get overwritten by the fileset, thus breaking rpm on your LPAR. Michael provides a much better explanation on this issue on his FAQ page.

Once all RPM packages are downloaded, upload them all to /tmp/sudo on your AIX LPAR.

Packages Installation

It should go without saying that if you already have sudo installed on your AIX LPAR you should remove it before installing the RPM packages you have just downloaded.

Go to the /tmp/sudo directory and test installing the RPM packages with the following commands:

cd /tmp/sudo
rpm -ivh *.rpm --test

In accordance with the POSIX spirit, if no output is given by the RPM command, your test went well and you may proceed with installation using the following command:

rpm -ivh *.rpm


Now that the packages have been installed some configuration is required to make it all work.

Name resolution order configuration

When Sudo is compiled with LDAP support it consults the Name Service Switch file to specify the sudoers search order. Sudo looks for a line beginning with sudoers and uses this to determine the search order. Typically this configuration is hosted on the /etc/nsswitch.conf configuration file on Linux and other Operating Systems that support/rely on that file.

On the AIX Operating System, however, the /etc/netsvc.conf configuration file is used to specify the ordering of name resolution for several commands. In a way it has a similar function to the /etc/nsswitch.conf configuration file on the Linux Operating System, although their syntaxes look nothing alike.

If you check IBM's netsvc documentation you will see that nowhere it mentions sudoers as a valid syntax option. The short and sweet answer to that is because its not a valid syntax entry.

In reality what happens is that the fine people from the Sudo project decided that, since AIX provides a functionality similar to /etc/nsswitch.conf through the /etc/netsvc.conf configuration file, it would be best to "teach" sudo to use /etc/netsvc.conf instead of having to implement /etc/nsswitch.conf on AIX. A very smart move I might add! More on this here.

In order tell sudo on your AIX LPAR to request its rules on LDAP if none are found on the /etc/sudoers file, is by adding the following line on the /etc/netsvc.conf configuration file:

sudoers = files, ldap

The idea behind doing this is that, if you want to have server specific sudo rules that bypass the rules on the IPA server, you can do so by adding them to /etc/sudoers as you normally would. This sort of surpasses the lack of HBAC support for AIX for this matter.

OpenLdap configuration

As you may see by running sudo -V | grep ldap, sudo expect to find its ldap configuration on the /etc/ldap.conf configuration file. This is not an AIX native configuration file and therefore you'll have to create it.

Create a file called /etc/ldap.conf and add the following content to it:

tls_cacert /etc/ipa/ca.crt
uri ldap://youripaserver.domain.com
binddn uid=sudo,cn=sysaccounts,cn=etc,dc=domain,dc=com
bindpw yourclientpassword
sudoers_base ou=sudoers,dc=domain,dc=com

Make sure to substitute "youripaserver.domain.com", "domain", "com" and "yourclientpassword" with the settings you have on your IPA environment.

This configuration file has nothing to do with the /etc/security/ldap/ldap.cfg file you use to configure AIX’s LDAP, this is OpenLdap’s config for sudo and so its only used by sudo. Don’t worry, this won’t conflict with AIX’s LDAP functionality.

CA Certificate

Upload your CA certificate to the directory you created called /etc/ipa. Make sure to permission the directory 755 and the ca.crt file 644.

If you have the proper firewall rules in place and the wget package installed on you AIX LPAR you can get this CA certificate by running the following command:

wget -O /etc/ipa/ca.crt http://youripaserver.domain.com/ipa/config/ca.crt

All done

If everything goes as planned your sudo will be working with IPA on your AIX LPAR. You may test this by logging into your AIX LPAR with an LDAP user and running the following command:

sudo -l

If it brings the sudo rules you set up on your IPA server, like the example bellow, you are all set.

[thisuser@thisserver]$ sudo -l
User this user may run the following commands on this server:
    (root) !/bin/cant_run_this_command
    (root) NOPASSWD: /bin/this_command_is_fine

One last thing: Before shouting Eureka, make sure that the sudo rules being presented by the sudo -l command are being retrieved from the IPA server and not from your local /etc/sudoers file as we set the resolution order for sudo on /etc/netsvc.conf to check for local sudo rules before checking for LDAP sudo rules.

About the author

If you have any questions fell free to contact me, luiz[dot]vianna[at]tivit[dot]com[dot]br on the free-ipa user mailling list at freeipa-users[at]redhat[dot]com. Removed the obvious signs to avoid unnecessary spam. ;)