Re: A question about passwords and login/authentication

From: Glynn Clements (
Date: 03/12/05

  • Next message: Pavol Luptak: "Re: A question about passwords and login/authentication"
    Date: Sat, 12 Mar 2005 20:11:27 +0000
    To: "Roman L. Daszczyszak II" <>

    Roman L. Daszczyszak II wrote:

    > I have heard that many *nix flavors used to default to using DES as
    > their password storage algorithm, but recently many Linux flavors tend
    > to use MD5 hashes instead, which are more secure to brute force attacks.
    > What I'm wondering is how long can a Linux password be?

    Long enough. An MD5 hash is only 128 bits long, so there is no point
    having a password with more than 128 bits of entropy (equivalent to 16
    random bytes or 25 characters randomly selected from [a-z0-9]).

    > Can it use extended characters (like Windows Alt-# feature) in it's
    > passwords and if so, how do you use them (aka if they aren't on the
    > keyboard)?

    So far as the applicable library routines are concerned, a password
    can be any sequence of non-NUL bytes. However, if you use control
    codes or characters outside of the 7-bit range, you may have problems
    entering them.

    E.g. the library functions will allow you to have LF or CR characters
    in a password, but you may not be able to enter them at a terminal
    login prompt or in a GUI login dialog.

    Also, some terminals (or GUI login programs) may represent non-ASCII
    characters using ISO-8859-1 whereas others may use UTF-8. The library
    functions deal with the raw bytes, not their interpretations as
    characters, so if you set a password containing non-ASCII characters
    on a terminal which uses ISO-8859-1, you won't be able to log in on a
    terminal which uses UTF-8.

    > Additionally I have heard that an MD5 hash has no limit to the amount it
    > can hash (iow an unlimited length password) but somewhere in the Linux
    > authentication it is set to a length of 256. What imposes this length
    > of password?

    There is no point in having a 256-byte password; as the hash is only
    128 bits, there would be many shorter passwords with exactly the same

    Glynn Clements <>

  • Next message: Pavol Luptak: "Re: A question about passwords and login/authentication"

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