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An interface to the Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM) library on linux, written in pure python (using ctypes)

Project Description

An interface to the Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM) library on linux, written in pure python (using ctypes)


This module provides an authenticate function that allows the caller to authenticate a given username / password against the PAM system on Linux.


Run python3 install as root to install the module, then import the authenticate function, and use it as follows:

from simplepam import authenticate
authenticate(username, password, service)

The full function signature is as follows:

authenticate(username, password, service='login', encoding='utf-8',

The service argument specifies the PAM service to authenticate against. Defaults to login.

username, password and service can be given as strings or bytes. If they are strings, they will be encoded using the encoding given by the encoding parameter, or, if omitted, as UTF-8.

The function returns True if the authentication succeeds and returns False if authentication fails (or if PAM returns an error (FIXME)).

Python versions

This module works with both Python 2 and Python 3.


The original python-pam module was written by Chris AtLee, see the original copyright notice:

Copyright (C) 2007-2009 Chris AtLee <>.
Licensed under the MIT license.

Modifications 2013-2014 by Leon Weber

  • Ported to Python3
  • Add call to pam_end()
  • Use ctypes.byref() instead of ctypes.pointer() to pass arguments by reference
  • Properly handle encoding of password, username and service (Patch by Sebastian Riese)
  • Add call to pam_reset() (Patch by Lertsenem)
  • Re-add Python2 support (Patch by Victor Stinner of eNovance)

This module is licensed under the MIT license.

Release History

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