Unable to login as a user on a 4.1 ESX server

By default, a 4.1 ESX server denies logins of standard users, while root access via ssh is enabled without problems. This has changed from 4.0 and has caused many headaches for those systems upgraded to 4.1.

Obviously, this is a security problem and something we do not want.

To protect your ESX server and restore standard user access, you have to replace the system-auth config file. In this event, an older 4.0 version of the file will do the job. Always remember to make a backup just in case something goes wrong (if it does and you don’t notice..you’re screwed, so pay attention)

#vi /etc/pam.d/system-auth

paste this content inside the file:

# Autogenerated by esxcfg-auth

account    required    /lib/security/$ISA/pam_unix.so

auth          required    /lib/security/$ISA/pam_env.so
auth          sufficient           /lib/security/$ISA/pam_unix.so        likeauth nullok
auth          required    /lib/security/$ISA/pam_deny.so

password    requisite     pam_cracklib.so try_first_pass retry=3 dcredit=-1 ucredit=0  ocredit=-1 lcredit=-1 minlen=8
password           required    /lib/security/$ISA/pam_cracklib.so            retry=3
password           sufficient           /lib/security/$ISA/pam_unix.so        nullok use_authtok md5 shadow
password           required    /lib/security/$ISA/pam_deny.so

session      required    /lib/security/$ISA/pam_limits.so
session      required    /lib/security/$ISA/pam_unix.so

You can now login to your 4.1 ESX server using standard login. Now go and harden your server!

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