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This chapter is from the book

Login Process

The process of logging into a Windows NT computer is similar to logging into a Solaris computer. Similar steps are performed, although the underlying system functions are different. The following steps describe the login process at a high level.

  1. User types username and password

  2. The computer checks to see if the user name exists in the directory service and, if so, verifies the password.

  3. A local shell is started that reads and executes specified start up scripts.

  4. The desktop environment is started.

Solaris Login Process

FIGURE 2-5 shows the Solaris user login process.

FIGURE 2-5 Solaris User Login Process

Solaris Name Service Switch

One of the unique features of Solaris software is the ability to specify where to look for a user's account information. This allows local accounts in /etc/passwd to be created, but at the same time use NIS to find non-local account information. The file /etc/nsswitch.conf specifies a search path for locating the user's account information. The default behavior is to first check to see if the user name matches one in /etc/passwd and, if so, use that information. If the user name is not in /etc/passwd, then NIS is checked to see if it contains that name.

Windows NT Login Process

FIGURE 2-6 shows the Windows NT login process.

FIGURE 2-6 Windows NT Login Process

Two differences between the Solaris and Windows NT login process should be noted:

  • If trusted domains are implemented, then the user will have a choice of Windows NT domains to verify the login

  • If a Windows computer belongs to a Windows NT domain, then no accounts on the local computer exists. The PDC/BDC is always consulted in this case. The exception is when Windows NT is deployed as a member server, which can contain local accounts.


If a Solaris user account in /etc/passwd has the same UID as an account in NIS, the user logging in using the /etc/passwd account will have the same permissions as the NIS account. Therefore, it is advisable to restrict the use of local root accounts so /etc/passwd accounts can only be created by system administrators.

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