Kerberos Authentication

Do you want to authenticate users using Cobbler's Web UI against Kerberos? If so, this is for you.

You may also be interested in authenticating against LDAP instead -- see LDAP -- though if you have Kerberos you probably want to use Kerberos.

We assume you've already got the WebUI up and running and just want to kerberize it ... if not, see Cobbler web interface first, then come back here.


These steps also work for kerberizing Cobbler XMLRPC transactions provided those URLs are the Apache proxied versions as specified in /var/lib/cobbler/httpd.conf

Configure the Authentication and Authorization Modes

Edit /etc/cobbler/modules.conf:

module = authn_passthru

module = authz_allowall

Note that you may want to change the authorization later, see Web Authorization for more info.

A Note About Security

The authn_passthru mode is only as secure as your Apache configuraton. If you make the Apache configuration permit everyone now, everyone will have access. For this reason you may want to test your Apache config on a test path like /var/www/html/test first, before using those controls to replace your default cobbler controls.

Configure your /etc/krb5.conf

NOTE: This is based on my file which I created during testing. Your kerberos configuration could be rather different.

 default = FILE:/var/log/krb5libs.log
 kdc = FILE:/var/log/krb5kdc.log
 admin_server = FILE:/var/log/kadmind.log

 ticket_lifetime = 24000
 default_realm = EXAMPLE.COM
 dns_lookup_realm = false
 dns_lookup_kdc = false
 kdc_timesync = 0

  kdc =
  admin_server =
  default_domain =

[domain_realm] = EXAMPLE.COM = EXAMPLE.COM

 profile = /var/kerberos/krb5kdc/kdc.conf

 debug = false
 ticket_lifetime = 36000
 renew_lifetime = 36000
 forwardable = true
 krb4_convert = false

Modify your Apache configuration file

There's a section in /etc/httpd/conf.d/cobbler.conf that controls access to /var/www/cobbler/web. We are going to modify that section. Replace that specific "Directory" section with:

(Note that for Cobbler >= 2.0, the path is actually "/cobbler_web/")

LoadModule auth_kerb_module   modules/

<Directory "/var/www/cobbler/web/">
  SetHandler mod_python
  PythonHandler index
  PythonDebug on

  Order deny,allow
  Deny from all
  AuthType Kerberos
  AuthName "Kerberos Login"
  KrbMethodK5Passwd On
  KrbMethodNegotiate On
  KrbVerifyKDC Off
  KrbAuthRealms EXAMPLE.COM

  <Limit GET POST>
    require user \
      gooduser1@EXAMPLE.COM \
    Satisfy any


Note that the above example configuration can be tweaked any way you want, the idea is just that we are delegating Kerberos authentication bits to Apache, and Apache will do the hard work for us.

Also note that the above information lacks KeyTab and Service Principal info for usage with the GSS API (so you don't have to type passwords in). If you want to enable that, do so following whatever kerberos documentation you like -- Cobbler is just deferring to Apache for auth so you can do whatever you want. The above is just to get you started.

Restart Things And test

/sbin/service cobblerd restart
/sbin/service httpd restart

A Note About Usernames

If entering usernames and passwords into prompts, use "user@EXAMPLE.COM" not "user".

If you are using one of the authorization mechanisms that uses /etc/cobbler/users.conf, make sure these match and that you do not use just the short form.


You may be interested in the Web Authorization section to further control things. For instance you can decide to let in the users above, but only allow certain users to access certain things. The authorization module can be used independent of your choice of authentication modes.

A note about restarting cobblerd

Cobblerd regenerates an internal token on restart (for security reasons), so if you restart cobblerd, you'll have to close your browser to drop the session token and then try to login again. Generally you won't be restarting cobblerd except when restarting machines and on upgrades, so this shouldn't be a problem.

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