How to Disable PAM Authentication

By Eric Love

Updated September 28, 2017

PAM, which stands for Pluggable Authentication Model, was developed by Sun Microsystems. PAM checks to see whether an application has permission to run based upon its name or the authentication credentials, such as user name and password, that it has supplied. PAM will reject or authorize the program based upon its configuration files. Although this centralizes security on the system, you may wish to disable PAM. You can do so by skipping PAM's authentication service in its configuration file.

Log into your Linux or UNIX system. Provide a user name and password that has the ability to obtain access to the file system, such as the root account or one that has permission to obtain administrative powers.

Open a new terminal window. This is different for each operating system but you can usually open a new terminal from an "Application" menu or by running the command "xterm."

Open the PAM configuration file in your preferred text editor. On most systems you can do this in the built-in "nano" editor by typing "nano /etc/pam.conf."

Press "Enter" and on the very top line write "skip-authentication". Save the document. PAM will no longer attempt to authenticate applications and will allow all requested services to run.