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A Puppet module to manage users and their secrets.


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Version information

  • 0.2.5 (latest)
  • 0.2.4
  • 0.2.3
  • 0.2.1
  • 0.2.0 (deleted)
released Jun 8th 2016
This version is compatible with:
  • Puppet Enterprise 2017.2.x, 2017.1.x, 2016.5.x, 2016.4.x
  • Puppet >=4.0.0 <5.0.0

Start using this module

  • r10k or Code Manager
  • Bolt
  • Manual installation
  • Direct download

Add this module to your Puppetfile:

mod 'lostinmalloc-users', '0.2.5'
Learn more about managing modules with a Puppetfile

Add this module to your Bolt project:

bolt module add lostinmalloc-users
Learn more about using this module with an existing project

Manually install this module globally with Puppet module tool:

puppet module install lostinmalloc-users --version 0.2.5

Direct download is not typically how you would use a Puppet module to manage your infrastructure, but you may want to download the module in order to inspect the code.



lostinmalloc/users — version 0.2.5 Jun 8th 2016


Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Module Description
  3. Setup
  4. Usage
  5. Reference
  6. Limitations
  7. Development


The lostinmalloc-users module manages users and their secrets. It is distributed through the Apache License 2.0. Please do refer to the LICENSE for details.

Module Description

The lostinmalloc-users module allows to manage users. It's main feature is to define whether a user is present or absent on a specific node.

If the user is present, it allows the client to define:

  • If he has a /home.
  • The groups he belongs to.
  • If he is a sudoer.
  • His secrets:
    • System password.
    • His public and/or private SSH key(s).
    • SSH key(s) that are allowed to log into the system as him.

If the user is not present:

  • His /home, if it does exist, is wiped out.

SSH Keys

lostinmalloc-users is able to deploy both the public and the private SSH keys of an user into his $HOME/.ssh directory. Providing the private SSH key is not mandatory. If given, being it sensitive data, it is encrypted through hiera-eyaml. The end user is expected to properly install and configure Puppet so that is has both the yaml and the eyaml backends.

lostinmalloc-users also allows to generate, for each user it manages, the authorized_keys file, whose content are the public SSH keys of those users that can log into the system as one. This has some limitations:

  • Only users directly managed through lostinmalloc-users can be used to state who can log into the system as who through SSH keys, since the module generates the authorized_keys fetching data from that provided through Hiera.
  • For a user to log into the system as himself he must provide his key and list himself among in the authorized_keys entries.


In order to install lostinmalloc-users, run the following command:

$ sudo puppet module install lostinmalloc-users

Once installed, managing users on a node through lostinmalloc-users is a simple as:

node '' {
  class { 'users': }

The module does expect all the data to be provided through 'Hiera'. See Usage for examples on how to configure it.

What lostinmalloc-users affects

By managing users, lostinmalloc-users affects several critical aspects of a node:

  • It manages a user's existence. As such, if used on already existing users, it can potentially wipe out his $HOME.
  • It manages how a user can log in and out, so that it can lock someone out of the system.

Users that are not managed through lostinmalloc-users are left untouched.


In terms of requirements lostinmalloc-users demands:

  • puppet >=4.0.0
  • hiera-eyaml >= 2.0.8

In terms of dependencies, lostinmalloc-users defines two kinds of dependencies:

  • puppetlabs-stdlib >= 2.2.1

In order for lostinmalloc-users to work, several packages, which can be installed either through apt or as a gem.

  • Mandatory* dependencies are hardcoded into manifest/params.pp as mandatory_dependencies.
  • Optional can be provided by the client through Hiera using the key users::params::extra_dependencies. For example, to get cmatrix installed as an optional dependency, we define it like this in Hiera:
  cmatrix: 'apt'

All of these extra dependencies must be supplied as a hash:

  • The key represents the name of the package.
  • The value represents the provider that Puppet must use to install it.

Managing Passwords

Managing a user's password requires libshadow to be already installed on the system. This is clearly explained by the useradd provider itself in the documentation that comes with the code. This library is essential since it allows Puppet to manage shadows. If the library is not installed when lostinmalloc-users is executed and told to add the password of a user, this is what happens:

  • The user will be created and properly configured, but his password will not be set. Puppet, if run in verbose mode, will warn about not being able to manage shadows.
  • The libshadow package is installed through gem since it is part of the mandatory dependencies. Starting from the next execution, the user will be updated and his password will be properly set in the shadows.

If Puppet is installed through APT (puppetlabs-release), libshadow is automatically installed into the system. If otherwise Puppet is manually installed through gems, it is not ans it is duty of the administrator(s) of the system to either install it or notify everyone that the users' passwords will not be set on the first run.

Managing Groups

lostinmalloc-users allows the client to define, optionally, the groups each user belongs to. Note that each user, by default, belongs to a group named after himself. This is known as the primary group of the user, The primary group should not be listed among the groups the user belongs to.

Any other group a user belongs to either exists already or is created before the user itself is created.

Handling groups requires the libuser package to be installed. lostinmalloc-users defines it as a mandatory dependency, so that its presence is enforced.


All data must be provided through Hiera.

In the following example:

  • The user dave:
    • Is be created.
    • Owns his $HOME.
    • Is a sudoer.
    • Can login with username/password.
    • Has both a public and a private SSH keys.
    • Allows users dave, gru and stuart to log in as him through SSH. Note that gru does not exist, so it will be skipped.
  • The user stuart:
    • Is created.
    • Does not own a $HOME.
    • Cannot login with username/password.
    • Has a public SSH key only.
    • Does not allow anyone to log in as him through SSH.
  • The user www-data:
    • Is created.
    • Does not own a $HOME.
    • Cannot login with username/password.
    • Has no SSH key.
    • Does not allow anyone to log in as him through SSH.


      - 'dave'
      - 'gru'
      - 'stuart'
      - 'sudo'
      - 'foo'
    managehome: true
    password: '$6$3xG2CaJYHkmVQ$340oMY0S1YSEwhiPpTC3Qz/Gz3VR2KC4iQefhrc00w2PunFXpYCmTanJ4ORXzMjQGASPEA13IUmwTS82Uj85c1'
    present: true
      key: 'QWERTY'
      key_label: ''
      key_type: 'ssh-rsa'
      - 'foo'
    managehome: false
    password: ''
    present: true
      key: 'banana'
      key_label: ''
      key_type: 'ssh-rsa'
    managehome: false
    present: true


      private_key: |
        -----BEGIN RSA PRIVATE KEY-----
        -----END RSA PRIVATE KEY-----
$ id dave
uid=1004(dave) gid=1007(dave) groups=1007(dave),27(sudo),1004(foo)
$ id stuart
uid=1005(stuart) gid=1005(stuart) groups=1005(stuart),1004(foo)

$ ls -l /home/dave/.ssh
-rwx------ 1 dave dave 66 Dec 12 19:23 authorized_keys
-rw------- 1 dave dave 75 Dec 25 23:12 dave
-rw-r-xr-x 1 dave dave  6 Dec 25 23:01

$ cat /home/dave/.ssh/authorized_keys
ssh-rsa QWERTY
ssh-rsa banana

$ sudo cat /etc/shadow


All data must be provided through Hiera. A user is defined by many attributes, some of which, in italic, are optional:


  • authorized_keys: A list of strings representing users managed through lostinmalloc-users that can log into the system as him. The public keys of these users are stored into his $HOME/.ssh/authorized_keys. If this value is not given for the user, none can log in as him through SSH keys.
  • groups: the groups he belongs to. Note that the group named after himself, also known as his primary group, should not be listed here, since it is generated automatically by the system. The groups the user belongs to are generated before any user is created, if they don't exist already.
  • managehome: a boolean, which defaults to false. If true, it generates the user has a /home named after himself and owns it. This parameter needs to be set as true if we want people to log into the system as him through SSH keys, since the authorized_keys is stored in his $HOME/.ssh.
  • password: the password used to login into the system. If an empty string is given the user cannot login this way. Note that the password must not be passed as plain text but encrypted. On Debian systems, the hash can be generated through the following command: $ mkpasswd -m sha-512. The command is part of the makepasswd package.
  • present: a boolean that states whether the user must be present or not. it defaults to false. If false, no resources will be allocated for the given user. Note that setting a previously existing user to false will wipe his $HOME out.
  • ssh: a hash used to provide the public SSH key of the user. This allows lostinmalloc-users to add this key to the authorized_keys of any users it manages.


  • ssh
    • private_key: the private SSH key of the user.


lostinmalloc-users has been developed and tested on the following setup(s):

  • Operating Systems:
    • Debian 7 Wheezy (3.2.68-1+deb7u3 x86_64)
    • Debian 8 Jessie (3.16.7-ckt11-1+deb8u3 x86_64)
  • Puppet
    • 4.2.1
  • Hiera
    • 3.0.1
  • Facter
    • 2.4.4
  • Ruby
    • 2.1.6p336


You can contact me through the official page of this module: Please do report any bug and suggest new features/improvements.