Gentoo, a three-headed dog, and me — Kerberos coming to PAM

I’ve been fighting the past few days with finding a solution to strengthen the internal security of my network. I’m doing this for two main reasons; from one side, having working IPv6 on the network means that I have to either set up a front-end firewall on the router, or I have to add firewalls on all the devices, and that’s not really so nice to do; on the other side, I’d like to give access to either containers (such as the tinderbox) or other virtual machines to other people, developers for Gentoo or other projects.

I’m not ready to just give access to them as the network is because some of the containers and VMs have still password-login, and from there, well, there would be access to some stuff that is better kept private. Even though I might trust some of the people I’m thinking to give access to, I won’t trust anybody else’s security practice with accessing my system. And this is even more critical since I have/had NFS-writeable directories around the system, including the distfiles cache that the tinderbox works with.

Unfortunately, most of the alternatives I know for this only work with a single user ID, and that means among other things that I can’t use them with Portage. So I decided to give a try to using NFSv4 and Kerberos. I’m not sure if I’ll stick with that sincerely, since it makes the whole system a whole lot more complex and, as I’ll show in a moment, it’s also not really solving my problem at its root, so it’s of little use to me.

The first problem is that the NFSv4 client support in Gentoo seems to have been totally broken up to now, bug #293593 was causing one of the necessary services to simply kill itself rather than running properly, and it was fun to debug. There is a library (libgssglue) that is used to select one out of a series of GSS API providers (either Kerberos or others); interestingly enough, this is yet another workaround for Linux missing libmap.conf and the problem with multiple implementations of the same interface. This library provides symbols that are also provided by the MIT-KRB5 GSS API library (libkrb5_gssapi); when linking the GSS client daemon (rpc.gssd) it has to link both, explicitly causing symbol collisions, sigh. Unfortunately this failed for two reasons again: .la files for libtirpc (don’t ask) caused libtool to actually reorder the linking of libraries, getting the wrong symbols in (bad, and shows again why we should be dropping those damn files), plus there was a stupid typo in the configure.ac file for nfs-utils where instead of setting empty enable_nfsv41 variable they set enable_nfsv4, which in turn caused libgssglue from not being searched for.

The second problem is that right now, as I know way too well, we have no support for Kerberos in the PAM configuration for Gentoo, this is one of the reason why I was considering more complex PAM configurations — main problem is that most of the configurations you find in tutorials, and those that I was proposed, make use of pam_deny to allow using either pam_unix or pam_krb5 at the same time; this in turn breaks the proper login chain used by the GNOME Keyring for instance. So I actually spent some time to find a possible solution to this. Later today when I have some extra time I’ll be publishing a new pambase package with Kerberos support. Note: this, and probably a lot more features of pambase, will require Linux-PAM. This is because the OpenPAM syntax is just basic, while Linux-PAM allows much more flexibility. Somebody will have to make sure that it can work properly on FreeBSD!

There is also a request for pam_ccreds to cache the credentials when running offline, I’m curious about it but upstream does not seem to be working on it as much as it should, so I’m not sure if it’s a good solution.

Unfortunately, as I said, NFSv4 does not seem so much of a good solution; beside the still lack of IPv6 support (which would have been nice to have, but it’s not required for me), if I export the distfiles over NFSv4 (with or without Kerberos), the ebuild fetch operation remain stuck in D-state for the process (blocked on I/O wait). And if I try to force the unmount of the mounted, blocked filesystem, I get the laptop to kernel panic entirely. Now, to make the thing easier to me I’m re-using a Gentoo virtual machine (which I last used for writing a patch for the SCTP support in the kernel) to see if I can reproduce the problem there, and get to fix it, in one way or another.

Unfortunately I’ve spent the whole night working and trying to get this working, so now I’ll try to get some rest at least (it’s 9.30am, sigh!). All the other fixes will wait for tomorrow. On the other hand, I’d welcome thank yous if you find the help on Kerberos appreciated; organisations who would like to have even better Gentoo support for Kerberos are welcome to contact me as well…

3 thoughts on “Gentoo, a three-headed dog, and me — Kerberos coming to PAM

  1. Please, if not pam_ccreds, then *something* to address the “disconnected” problem. I’m not aware of a better solution that pam_ccreds/nss_updatedb off the top of my head (and it does seem like it could be done better), but for those of use using an authentication-server based environment (I use LDAP), the pain is acute. :)

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  2. I sincerely have no idea about the LDAP setup, and without having a clue I have no idea where to start.But if your organisation is interested in better Gentoo support for that, you might even “hire me”:https://www.flameeyes.eu/hi… and then I can tailor up your need…For what I have seen, @pam_ccreds@ is quiiiite messed up, and could use, if not a rewrite, a good hand-on review… it seems to not have been touched in so long…

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