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    1.0.0 • Public • Published


    A linux password hash value (for the password field in /etc/passwd or /etc/shadow) that is invalid (i.e. there is no correct input that could match this hash) but can be used with ansible without fuss.


    This module exports one string.

    Why make a package for a static string?

    • To have a place for the documentation, to describe the idea behind it.
    • To have a place for distributing updates, in case it turns out later versions of ansible will have other criteria.
    • To have an issue tracker.

    The problem

    I encountered a scenario where I want to configure a desktop user account that can not be used to login interactively or via SSH. (The login manager is configured to start a session for that user when appropriate, without password prompt.)

    Inside that session, xscreensaver shall be able to lock the screen, and a custom event mechanism is set up to stop xscreensaver when appropriate. Unfortunately, when no password was set, xscreensaver would exit on any activity, with no password asked at all. I want the opposite effect: It asks for a password but no possible input can be correct.

    Solution for Ubuntu

    So I attempted a fake SHA-512 password hash: $6$fakesalt$bogus Any real password hash will be much longer, so there cannot be a password whose hash is literally bogus. This seems to work very well in Ubuntu, as expected.

    Solution for Ubuntu and ansible

    However, when using ansible 2.9.9, the user task to update that hash fails with

    [WARNING]: The input password appears not to have been hashed. The 'password' argument must be encrypted for this module to work properly.

    when the hash is not exactly 86 characters long. So how about we use 86 characters, but include some that are not in the usual charset?

    According to wikipedia, the charset used by crypt (CLI frontend: mkpasswd) is ., /, 0-9, A-Z, a-z, with no padding. Let's check:

    $ mkpasswd --method=sha-512 qux fakesalt | tr 0-9A-Za-z ' '
    $ $        $                                  /             /     /             .        .       .

    Looks like WP is correct on that. Thus, no real password hash can contain =. Also = is a good candidate for the first character of the hash, because a hash based on the idea of Base64 probably won't use the Base64 padding character in its data charset.

    Known issues

    • Needs more/better tests and docs.





    npm i ansible-bogus-linux-pwhash

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