GSSAPI Proxy initiative

Simo Sorce simo at
Thu Nov 3 17:30:18 EDT 2011

On Thu, 2011-11-03 at 15:53 -0500, Nico Williams wrote:
> On Thu, Nov 3, 2011 at 3:39 PM, Trond Myklebust
> <Trond.Myklebust at> wrote:
> >> What I had in mind was something like PAGs or keyrings.  Or, to be
> >> much more specific, search for my name and the string "credentials
> >> process groups" -- a PAG on steroids.
> >>
> >> The idea is that the IPC peer can observe the other's
> >> PAG/keyring/CPG/whatever and use that to find the correct credentials
> >> (authorization is still required though).
> >
> > Linux already has per-user, per-process and per-thread keyrings which
> > offer a high security storage solution for keys. The problem with those
> > is that they are difficult to use in an asynchronous context when the
> > original user's process/thread context is no longer available to us.
> For async IPC methods you'd want something like SCM_CREDENTIALS to
> give you the keyring/PAG/whatever information you need abou thte peer.
>  The ancillary data should be complete enough that you can past the
> client process/thread being dead, although it's nice to not have to
> process a request from a dead entity...
> For sync IPC you need something like door_ucred().  And for sync IPC
> you can make sure to get SIGCANCEL or equivalent when the client gets
> canceled (this is the default in doors).
> > Ideally, though, that's what we'd like to see used.
> Agreed!

I have discussed use of the keyring in a private discussion before
starting the thread, and it turns out the keyring has a number of
limitations that makes it probably unsuitable for this project.

As an upcall mechanism it has some limitations on the size of the
payloads, IIRC limited to a page, and that means that you cannot pass
blobs carrying big kerberos tickets.

As a storage mechanism for credential caches it also has size limits.
Currently the limit is 20k per user which is not even enough to hold a
single ticket in some cases. This limit can be increased of course, but
then you end keeping around a huge amount of unswappable ram depending
on the number of users.

So for long term storage of credentials we will probably not rely on
kernel keyrings, nor as an upcall mechanism.


Simo Sorce * Red Hat, Inc * New York

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