Getting error only when *not* running in debug mode....

Alan DeKok aland at
Thu Jun 17 13:01:58 CEST 2021

On Jun 16, 2021, at 7:13 PM, Mark J. Bobak <mark at> wrote:
> So, my new server is running Ubuntu 20.04 and using the NetworkRadius
> packages to install freeradius 3.0.23.  I have also installed
> libpam-google-authenticatior, and integrated it according to these steps:

  3.0.23 includes a TOTP module.  Which means you can out the TOTP secrets into a database, or pretty much anywhere else you want.  And you don't need to use PAM.  And, that users don't need to have login accounts.

> This seems to have worked fine.  I was running freeradius manually, with
> debug (-X) enabled, and everything seemed to be working fine.
> sudo /usr/sbin/freeradius -X

  i.e. as root.

> So, I killed freeradius (CTRL-C), and tried:
> sudo service freeradius start
> It started up fine.

  And runs as user "radiusd".

> But, now when I try authenticating (using radtest):
> radtest mbobak redacted123456 localhost:1812 0 'redacted'
> I get Access-Rejected
> Looking at the log file, /var/log/freeradius/radius.log, I see:
> Wed Jun 16 22:42:54 2021 : Info: Ready to process requests
> Wed Jun 16 22:43:27 2021 : ERROR: (0) pam: ERROR: PAM conversation failed
> Wed Jun 16 22:43:27 2021 : ERROR: (0) pam: ERROR: Error "Read-only file
> system" while writing config

  That seems rather crazy, TBH.  PAM shouldn't be writing *anything* during the normal course of operations.

> But, even though it's reporting a read-only filesystem error, I'm thinking
> it could be a permission problem on some file?

  Yes.  User "radiusd" doesn't have permission to write the files.

> But, I'm really baffled by the system working when I run freeradius
> manually, but only errors when I run it from the service.

  User "root" has permission to write the files.

  You'll have to find out which file / directory is the problem, and then change the permissions.  I'm sure that information is buried somewhere in the PAM documentation.  It's outside of the scope of FreeRADIUS.

  Alan DeKok.

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