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CompTIA Linux+ XK0-005 - 2.2 - Account Management: pam_tally2

Identity management is an important aspect of Linux system administration. It involves managing user accounts, passwords, and access privileges. In this guide, we will focus on using pam_tally2 as a tool for account management. pam_tally2 is a Pluggable Authentication Module (PAM) that keeps track of login attempts and enforces account lockouts.


The configuration for pam_tally2 is done in the PAM configuration files located in the /etc/pam.d/ directory. Here's how you can configure pam_tally2:

  • Open the PAM configuration file for the desired service. For example, to configure pam_tally2 for the sshd service, open the /etc/pam.d/sshd file using a text editor.

  • Add the following line at the beginning of the file to enable pam_tally2:

    auth required
  • Optionally, you can add additional parameters to customize the behavior of pam_tally2. Some commonly used options include:

    • deny=5: Specifies the number of failed login attempts before locking the account.
    • unlock_time=300: Sets the lockout duration in seconds (default is 300 seconds or 5 minutes).
    • audit: Enables logging of failed login attempts.

    An example configuration line with these options would look like:

    auth required deny=5 unlock_time=300 audit

pam_tally2 Command

With pam_tally2 configured, it will start keeping track of failed login attempts for each user. You can use the pam_tally2 command to view and manage the login attempts. Here are some useful commands:

  • Display the current status of user login attempts:

    sudo pam_tally2 --user=username

    Replace username with the actual username you want to check.

  • Reset the login attempts counter for a user:

    sudo pam_tally2 --user=username --reset
  • Reset the login attempts counter for all users:

    sudo pam_tally2 --reset-all


Implementing identity management is crucial for maintaining the security and integrity of a Linux system. With pam_tally2, you can effectively track and manage failed login attempts, enforce account lockouts, and enhance the overall security of user accounts. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully configure and utilize pam_tally2 for identity management in your Linux environment.

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