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[Xen-API] Use of PAM for authentication & SSL comms

  • To: xen-api@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • From: "Daniel P. Berrange" <berrange@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2006 23:29:52 +0000
  • Delivery-date: Thu, 02 Nov 2006 13:44:11 -0800
  • List-id: Discussion of API issues surrounding Xen <xen-api.lists.xensource.com>

I'm not had much time to actually try the new Xen-API work yet, so have
merely been reading the commits as the come in to keep track of work.
I wanted to raise the question of authentication. Changeset 77 in
the xen-api.hg branch switched Xen-API over to use PAM for authentication
of the remote logins.


This is very nice in principle, but I've a couple of thoughts about
the particular impl.

 - The XML-RPC api is using a login method where you explicitly
   pass in a username & password as the two params. This doesn't
   really match up with the PAM model of conversation functions
   which request one or more pieces of auth info in sequence. It
   strikes me that since XML-RPC is a bi-directional protocol it
   would make alot more sense to allow the PAM conversation callbacks
   to go back & forth over the XML-RPC channel to collect data from
   the client as needed, rather than having the client provide 
   the username & password ahead of time.

   By removing the fixed user/passwd at the client end of the API
   it'll be possible to add in support for all the different types
   of auth people can configure with PAM. The obvious one being
   kerberos GSSAPI single sign on.

 - XenD should install its own PAM config file into /etc/pam.d
   rather than re-using the context from the 'login' program

 - If we're using PAM then we must switch all communications to use
   SSL by default - no network daemon should be using system
   passwords over a cleartext network channel anymore. If we want
   to keep a cleartext channel, then we should use a separate 
   password database & certainly not system logins

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