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OpenVMS System Manager's Manual

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Chapter 7
Managing User Accounts

This chapter describes how to grant access to users on your system. It tells you how to add and maintain user accounts, and it describes the privileges that you can give and the resources that you can allocate to the users on your system. It also describes the system management features of the OpenVMS Mail utility (MAIL).

Information Provided in This Chapter

This chapter describes the following tasks:

Task Section
Managing system-supplied UAF accounts Section 7.4
Preparing to add user accounts Section 7.5
Adding user accounts Section 7.6
Using command procedures for interactive accounts Section 7.7.1
Modifying a user account Section 7.7.2
Listing user accounts Section 7.7.3
Maintaining the user environment Section 7.7.4
Deleting a user account Section 7.7.5
Restricting the use of accounts Section 7.8
Using login procedures for restricted accounts Section 7.8.5
Setting up special accounts Section 7.9
Managing Mail Section 7.10
Managing system resources Section 7.11

This chapter explains the following concepts:

Concept Section
Understanding the user authorization file Section 7.1
Understanding the protection of authorization files Section 7.2
Understanding UAF login checks Section 7.3
Understanding system-supplied UAF accounts Section 7.4.1
Understanding account security Section 7.5.3
Understanding network proxy accounts Section 7.9.3
Understanding pages and pagelets Section 7.11.1

7.1 Understanding the User Authorization File

The system user authorization file (UAF), SYS$SYSTEM:SYSUAF.DAT, contains user account records. Each record consists of fields that provide information about the account's user name, login characteristics, login restrictions, and resource control attributes. You specify the account user name as a parameter to AUTHORIZE commands; the other fields are specified as qualifiers to AUTHORIZE commands.

The system uses the UAF to validate login requests and to set up processes for users who successfully log in. You create, examine, and modify UAF records with the Authorize utility (AUTHORIZE).

You can assign the following resource control attributes in the UAF record:

  • Priority
  • Limits and quotas
  • Privileges

The following sections briefly discuss these resource control attributes.

7.1.1 Priority

A user's priority is the base process priority that the system uses to schedule computer time for the process associated with the user's account.

On VAX systems, priorities range in value from a low of 0 to a high of 31. 0 through 15 are timesharing priorities; 16 through 31 are real-time priorities.

On Alpha systems, priorities range in value from a low of 0 to a high of 63. 0 through 15 are timesharing priorities; 16 through 63 are real-time priorities.

The system schedules processes with real-time priorities strictly according to base priority---the executable real-time process with the highest base priority executes first. Processes with timesharing priorities are scheduled according to a slightly different principle, to promote equitable service to all users.

Leave the base priority at the default of 4 for timesharing accounts.

7.1.2 Limits and Quotas

Limits are set on system resources that can be reused; for example, the amount of memory that a process can use for I/O requests. Most limits restrict the use of physical memory. You set limits for processes associated with accounts through the appropriate UAF fields. You can change some of these limits later with DCL commands or by calling system services from programs.

A process passes on its resources to a subprocess (for example, when you create a subprocess with the SPAWN command) in one of several ways, depending on the resource type. Table 7-1 lists the different resource types.

Table 7-1 Resource Type Limits
Resource Type Description of Limit
Pooled A process and its subprocesses share the resource on a first-come, first-served basis until the limit is reached.
Nondeductible A subprocess receives the same limit on the resource as the creator receives. The creator's limit is not affected.
Deductible A subprocess receives a portion of the creator's resource. That portion is deducted from the creator's limit.
Systemwide A process and all created subprocesses with the same user name or account share the total limit on a first-come, first-served basis.

Normally, leave limits at their default values. For the default values for the system and user accounts, see the sample SYSTEM and DEFAULT user authorization file records supplied with the Authorize utility on your distribution kit. Also see Section 7.11 for a full description of limits and quotas.

7.1.3 Privileges

Privileges determine what functions users are authorized to perform on the system. System manager functions require privileges that are denied to most users. Because the SYSTEM account has full privileges by default, exercise caution in using it. For example, if you log in to the SYSTEM account, you can modify and delete any file regardless of its protection.

Table 7-2 categorizes system privileges and includes a brief definition of the activity permitted with each privilege. See the OpenVMS Guide to System Security for a full description of privileges.

Table 7-2 System Privileges
Category Privilege Activity Permitted
None None None requiring privileges
Create network connections
Create temporary mailbox
Control processes in the same group
Group access through system protection field
Devour ACNT
Disable accounting
Allocate spooled devices
Make machine check error log entries
Exceed disk quotas
Insert group logical names in the name table
Create/delete permanent common event flag clusters
Create permanent global sections
Create permanent mailboxes
Create/delete structures in shared memory
Set base priority higher than allotment
Generate audit records
Perform operator functions
Change process swap mode
Control any process
Perform security-related functions
Lock systemwide resources
Diagnose devices
Mount a nonlabeled tape volume
Execute mount volume QIO
Create systemwide global sections
Override volume protection
Bypass existing restrictions to read an object
Disregard protection
Change to executive mode
Change to kernel mode
Create detached processes of arbitrary UIC
Write to a lower secrecy object or lower an object's classification
Issue logical I/O requests
Map to specific physical pages
Issue physical I/O requests
Possess read access to all system objects
Enable any privilege
Access devices allocated to other users
Insert system logical names in the name table
Access objects through system protection field
Write to a higher integrity object or raise an object's integrity level

Because certain images (such as SET.EXE) require access to the system UAF and are normally installed with the SYSPRV privilege, make sure you always grant system access to SYSUAF.DAT.

7.2 Understanding the Protection of Authorization Files

To display the protection codes for any file, use the DCL command DIRECTORY/PROTECTION.

Authorization files are created with the following default protections:

  • User authorization file, SYSUAF.DAT
    The user authorization file, SYSUAF.DAT, is created with the following default protection:

  • Proxy authorization files, NETPROXY.DAT and NET$PROXY.DAT
    Two proxy authorization files, NETPROXY.DAT and NET$PROXY.DAT, are created with the following default protections:

    NET$PROXY.DAT   S, O, G, W

    The primary proxy database that the system uses is the NET$PROXY.DAT file. NETPROXY.DAT is maintained:
    • For use by DECnet for OpenVMS
    • For backward compatibility

    See Section 7.9.3 for more details about network proxy accounts.
  • Rights database file, RIGHTSLIST.DAT
    The RIGHTSLIST.DAT authorization file is created with the following default protection:


The procedures for adding a user account are discussed in detail in Section 7.6. Because the UAF is the prime repository for storing information about user accounts, it is important to understand its components before you add accounts.

7.3 Understanding UAF Login Checks

This section describes the system checks the login fields of the UAF when a user attempts to log in.

When a user activates a terminal (by turning it on and pressing Return if directly connected, by dialing in to a system and observing the remote connect protocol, or by connecting via a LAT), and that terminal is not allocated by a user process, the system prompts for a name and password. The user must enter a name and password combination that exists in a UAF record, or the system denies the user further access. If the name and password are accepted, the system performs the operations in Table 7-3.

Table 7-3 System Login Flow
Step Action Result
1. System examines the login flags. The system begins with DISUSER. If the DISUSER flag is set, the login attempt fails.

Note that setting this flag for powerful, infrequently used accounts (such as Field Service accounts) eliminates the risk of guessed passwords for those accounts.

2. System verifies primary or secondary day restrictions. After checking the current day type, the system determines whether hourly login restrictions are in effect (as defined by the /ACCESS, /DIALUP, /INTERACTIVE, /LOCAL, and /REMOTE qualifiers). If the current hour is restricted, the login fails immediately. Compaq recommends that you limit nonbatch access of the SYSTEM account by using access times and day types. See Section 7.8.1 and Section 7.8.2.
3. System passes control to the command interpreter. The command interpreter is named in the user's UAF record; for example, DCL.
4. System checks whether SYS$LOGIN is defined. If SYS$LOGIN is defined, the logical name is translated (in the case of DCL, to SYS$MANAGER:SYLOGIN.COM) and that procedure executes.

If SYS$SYLOGIN is not defined, no system login is run.

If a command procedure is specified in the LGICMD field and that procedure exists, it executes. Otherwise, if the LGICMD field is blank, the user's command file (named LOGIN.COM if the CLI is DCL), which is located in the SYS$LOGIN directory, executes automatically (if it exists).

The system will not execute both a command procedure specified in the LGICMD field and a user's LOGIN file; if a procedure is specified in the LGICMD field, the system uses that procedure by default. You can, however, instruct the system to execute a user's LOGIN by calling it from within the procedure specified in LGICMD.

After a successful login, the command interpreter prompts for user input (DCL usually displays a dollar sign), and the user responds with commands acceptable to the command interpreter. (DCL accepts those commands documented in the OpenVMS DCL Dictionary.) However, the system prohibits activities that violate the user's privilege allowance or exceed resource quotas.

7.4 Managing System-Supplied UAF Accounts

Typically, you use the UAF supplied with the distribution kit. (You can, however, rename the UAF with the DCL command RENAME, and then create a new UAF with AUTHORIZE.) Allow access to this file only to those with SYSTEM privileges. See the AUTHORIZE section in the OpenVMS System Management Utilities Reference Manual for guidelines on protecting system files.

The UAF is accessed as a shared file. Updates to the UAF are made on a per-record basis, which eliminates the need for both a temporary UAF and a new version of the UAF after each AUTHORIZE session. Updates become effective as soon as you enter AUTHORIZE commands, not after the termination of AUTHORIZE. (For this reason, do not enter temporary values with the intent of fixing them later in the session.)

The Authorize utility (AUTHORIZE) provides a set of commands and qualifiers to assign values to any field in a UAF record. See the Authorize utility section in the OpenVMS System Management Utilities Reference Manual for complete information about UAF record fields and the commands and qualifiers used to assign attributes to these fields.

7.4.1 Understanding System-Supplied UAF Accounts

On VAX systems, the UAF on software distribution kits contains five accounts: DEFAULT, FIELD, SYSTEM, SYSTEST, and SYSTEST_CLIG.

On Alpha systems, DEFAULT and SYSTEM accounts are created for you. You can use SYS$MANAGER:CREATE_SPECIAL_ACCOUNTS.COM to create SYSTEST, SYSTEST_CLIG, and Field Service accounts, as explained in Section 7.4.2.

Table 7-4 describes system-supplied UAF accounts.

Table 7-4 System-Supplied UAF Accounts
UAF Record Description
DEFAULT Serves as a template for creating new user accounts. A new user account is assigned the values of the DEFAULT account except where you explicitly override those values. Thus, whenever you add a new account, you need only specify values for fields that you want to be different. You cannot rename or delete the DEFAULT account from the UAF.

The following AUTHORIZE command creates a new account having the same values as the DEFAULT account, except that the password, UIC, and default directory fields are changed:


Section 7.6 gives an example of how to use AUTHORIZE to add a user account. Section 7.7.4 explains how to create and use additional default templates.

FIELD Permits Compaq support representatives to test a new system.

+ On VAX systems, the default Field Service account has the user name FIELD.

++ On Alpha systems, you name Field Service accounts for specific Compaq support representatives; for example, Mary_Smith or John_Jones.

SYSTEM Provides a means for you to log in with full privileges. You can modify the record for the system manager's account but you cannot rename it or delete it from the UAF.


Do not change the SYSTEM account UAF record fields for the default device, directory, and privileges. Installation of maintenance releases of the operating system and optional software products depends on certain values in these fields.

Note any hourly or daily restrictions that you have implemented on the SYSTEM account when performing upgrades from the SYSTEM account.

SYSTEST Provides an appropriate environment for running UETP, a User Environment Test Package, on standalone systems. (See Chapter 19.)
SYSTEST_CLIG Provides an appropriate environment for running UETP in an OpenVMS Cluster environment. SYSTEST_CLIG accounts have no passwords associated with them. (See Chapter 19.)

+VAX specific
++Alpha specific

7.4.2 Creating Accounts on Alpha Systems (Alpha Only)

On Alpha systems, you can use the SYS$MANAGER:CREATE_SPECIAL_ACCOUNTS.COM command procedure to create SYSTEST, SYSTEST_CLIG, and multiple Field Service accounts. Creating Field Service Accounts (Alpha Only)

On Alpha systems, you can use CREATE_SPECIAL_ACCOUNTS.COM to create accounts for Compaq support representatives. In creating these accounts, follow these guidelines:

  • Create an account for each Compaq support (Field Service) representative rather than just one account called FIELD for all the representatives. Note that you must use the command procedure for each account you want to create.
  • Use account names that represent the actual names of support representatives, not a generic name such as FIELD.

The following example shows typical dialogue with CREATE_SPECIAL_ACCOUNTS.COM when it is used to create a Compaq Field Service account:


    This procedure creates accounts.

    Passwords may be needed for the following accounts:

        SYSTEST, Field Service

    Passwords must be a minimum of 8 characters in length.  All passwords
    will be checked and verified.  Any passwords that can be guessed easily
    will not be accepted.

* Do you want to create an account for SYSTEST (Y/N): N [Return]

* Do you want to create an account for SYSTEST_CLIG (Y/N): N [Return]

* Do you want to create an account for Field Service (Y/N): Y [Return]
* Enter username for Field Service account: john_jones [Return]
* Enter password for JOHN_JONES:
* Re-enter for verification:


Note that the system does not display the password or password verification that you enter.

Disabling Field Service Accounts (Alpha Only)

You can use the Authorize utility (AUTHORIZE) to disable Compaq support representative accounts when these accounts are not in use and enable them again when they are needed.

To disable an account, use the AUTHORIZE command in the following format:


For example:


The login flag DISUSER disables the account and prevents anyone from logging in to the account.

Reenabling Field Service Accounts (Alpha Only)

To reenable an account when it is needed again, run AUTHORIZE and enter the command in the following format:


For example:


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