Bug 132608 - Have NSS auto-reload nsswitch.conf
Have NSS auto-reload nsswitch.conf
Product: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3
Classification: Red Hat
Component: glibc (Show other bugs)
All Linux
medium Severity medium
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Assigned To: Jakub Jelinek
Brian Brock
: FutureFeature
Depends On:
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Reported: 2004-09-14 21:40 EDT by Craig Lawson
Modified: 2007-11-30 17:07 EST (History)
0 users

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Doc Type: Enhancement
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Last Closed: 2004-09-27 20:47:31 EDT
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Description Craig Lawson 2004-09-14 21:40:14 EDT
Version: glibc-2.3.2-95.27

When the NSS subsystem parses the contents of /etc/nsswitch.conf, it 
does so only once. While sufficient for short-lived processes, this 
strategy is not appropriate for daemons. If the file has changed, 
each daemon using the file must be either restarted, SIGHUP'ed, or 
who knows what else -- because man pages typically do not document 
how to force nsswitch.conf to reload. Apparently, /etc/nsswitch.conf 
was deemed constant enough that it was not worth mentioning. Yet 
occasionally it does change -- should the user be forced to reboot at 
those times? (PAM faces the same issue, and re-reads its 
configuration file each time.)

RedHat's own authconfig handles this issue by maintaining a built-in 
list of daemons to restart, and when nsswitch.conf is modified, 
restarts them. There is no public interface for additional daemons to 
gain membership to this list, nor for other services which modify 
nsswitch.conf to access the list. The drawback to authconfig's 
approach is that the maintainer must be concerned about proper start-
up dependencies between daemons, new daemons, and the small time 
interval when the daemon is off-line.

The enhancement I propose is that the NSS subsystem reload its 
service_table if the nsswitch.conf has been modified since the last 
time it was read. Optimization: to avoid frequent requests for the 
file's last modification time, which is entirely unnecessary for 
short-lived processes, I suggest omitting file system checks sooner 
than 10 minutes since the last check.

The proposed change simplifies every daemon that uses NSS, makes 
daemon restarts less necessary, simplifies authconfig, and simplifies 
the issues for every sys admin who modifies nsswitch.conf.
Comment 1 Suzanne Hillman 2004-09-15 14:38:55 EDT
Internal RFE bug #132670 entered; will be considered for future releases.
Comment 2 Ulrich Drepper 2004-09-27 20:47:31 EDT
That file will never be automatically reloaded.  The file is not
supposed to be changed after the initial configuration and if it does,
better reboot and restart all relevant programs.  I will not add any
code which penalizes normal operations.

All this can in general be avoided by using nscd.  If nscd is used
only this one program needs to be restarted for the new setting to be
used.  If you need to use change the nsswitch.conf setting for
services other than passwd, group, and hosts then this is something
else.  The solution then might be to add support for these other
services to nscd.

So in summary, us nscd and never let programs directly use NSS services.

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