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IPAv3 Architecture

IPAv3 Goals

The IPA v3 goal is to be able to set up trust relationships with AD Forests.

This will allow AD Admins to see IPA as a Resource Domain where all Linux machines are handled by the Linux Admins.

Ad users will be able to freely access Linux (Unix) machines with their AD credentials.

Required Features to reach the Goal

In order to reach the stated goal, IPA needs to be able to interoperate with Windows domain controllers of a Trusted Forest. For most operations all is needed is access to the KDC. But to setup the actual trusts, manage them and do some name resolution it is necessary to provide Windows domain controllers with at least access to MS-RPC services. The MS-RPC services needed are named NETLOGON, LSARPC and SAMR. These services can be reached over the SMB (or SMB2) transport (port 445) and directly over TCP/IP through the help of the EPM (End Point Mapper) RPC service (port 135) that allows a remote server to discover on which ports the services are listening. The LDAP port MUST be filtered, as our LDAP schema and DIT are not compatible with what AD clients expect and may confuse them.

Required Components

MS-RPC services are implemented by Samba, as well as the EPM and SMBD daemons. These services need to be made available both via the SMB/SMB2 protocols, that are handled via SMBD) and via TCP/IP by running additional daemon(s) that can listen to ports above 1024. These services need to be able to access the IPA database in order to access and translate information in the format Windows Servers find suitable.

The KDC also needs to be able to handle some of the information Windows clients/servers need, in form of an Authorization structure called MS-PAC (Privileged Access Certificate) embedded in Kerberos Tickets.

IPAv3 Layout

The following image shows a high level view of the principal components we need to integrate/develop in order to achieve the goal.


As you can see in this drawing there are 2 new components compared to a v2 server. Samba components (in blue) are quite evident. But there is also a new KDC related component called IPA-KDB. This is an IPA specific DAL backend, and replaces the original MIT kldap DAL backend used in v2.

Setting up trust relationships

As mentioned, MS-RPC services are necessary in order to setup a trust relationship with an AD Forest. The MS-RPC services are also used to perform some sid2name name2sid lookups and Netlogon related functions for working trusts.



When a AD DC server needs to perform a MS-RPC operation against IPA, two possible routes can be taken. It can try a direct TCP/IP connection (1) against the service, possibly contacting the EPM Service (1.b) in advance to know which ports the service is listening (the service pre-registers (1.a) to the EPM so that the information is available there). Alternatively the server can try to use SMB/SMB2 (2) to connect to the server and open a named pipe (2.a) with the name of the service.

The authentication is performed using the DCE-Style GSSAPI-Krb5 method or, as a fallback, NTLMSSP. The credentials used will depend on the operation being performed. During the trust setup operation, administrative credentials are used in order to establish a trust secret. Generally for normal operations the trust secret is used. In case Kerberos authentication is used, the PAC will contain the credentials and is decoded by libndr_krb5 (4), otherwise the user will be searched through IPASAM (3) on the LDAP server.

Once connected, the service will either request data or request modification to the data. In all cases this will be performed through the IPASAM backend (3) which contains the code used to properly format/fetch (3.a) data from the LDAP server. The RPC Service is responsible for performing authorization checks and permit/deny the requested operation.


In the picture we can see 5 major components of Samba we are currently interested in:

  • SMBD
  • EPMD
  • The Netlogon/LSA/SAMR daemon(s)
  • libndr_krb5


The SMBD daemon is useful basically only as a transport for MS-RPC over named pipes. The default configuration should be limited to exposing named pipes only, and possibly it should disable all named pipes that are not necessary for setting up the trust relationships and serving the data necessary to keep them working.


The EPM Daemon is a very tiny and simple yet fundamental daemon that allow Windows machines to connect directly to MS-RPC Services over TCP/IP. This will be either a separate binary or a process forked out by SMBD at startup.


This is the core component of Samba that allows IPA to be configured as a trusted Forest by Windows. The implementation may comprise separate daemons or a set of process forked by SMBD at startup. These services will work in concert to provide access to information and set information in the LDAP directory through the IPASAM interface. The LDAP directory is responsible for storing all the long term data. ... These 3 services provide the following functionality:


The Netlogon service deals with Secure Channel setup, pass-through authentication and domain trusts related functions among other things.

This service is use both at trust set up time and during normal usage to handle authentication related operations.


This is the most important interface for setting up trusts and managing trusts information. At the same time it also implements methods to perform name translation services like name2sid, sid2name and others. So it will be used both for setup operations and as day to day translation of SIDs and names.


The SAMR (System Account Management RPC) service handles user group and domain data (query, add, remove, modify of accounts). This interface is generally exposed together with the LSA interface and complements it in some places.


... Finally the libndr_krb5 library provides the means for packing and unpacking authorization structures used by Windows, including the MS-PAC structure embedded in Kerberos Tickets.

IPA - AD trust relationships at work

During normal operations the most important piece, in order to allow authentication and SSO is the Kerberos infrastructure. It is especially important for trust relationships as kerberos is used not only to perform authentication but also to convey authorization data via the MS-PAC.


The picture summarizes the set of operations involving the IPA and AD KDCs from the perspective of both Windows and IPA clients and servers. It is assumed that a trust relationship is already in place. It is also assumed the clients already have a valid TGT.

AD client needs services from IPA server

The AD client performs a TGS Request for the service to the AD KDC (a.1), the KDC recognizes that the service belongs to a trusted domain and send sback to the client a cross-realm TGT and a referral to go ask the trusted KDC.

The AD client uses the cross-realm TGT to request a ticket to the IPA KDC (a.2).

At this point the IPA KDC needs to validate the MS-PAC being transmitted with the cross-realm TGT. The IPA-KDB may, optionally, check the LDAP directory (c.1) to see if foreign principals are allowed to get tickets for the requested service. The IPA-KDB plugin then decodes the MS-PAC using the libndr_krb5 library (c.2) and verify and eventually filters the data. It perform lookups (c.1) in the LDAP server to check if it needs to augment the MS-PAC with additional information (local groups for example), then uses the libndr_krb5 library (c.2) to encoded the PAC again, sign it and send it back attached to the service ticket.

The AD client can now contact the IPA service (a.3).

IPA client needs services from AD server

The IPA client performs a TGT Request for the service it wants to contact to the IPA KDC (b.1). The KDC recognizes the service belongs to another realm, checks the realm is known and trusted, and, eventually, that the client is allowed to request services from foreign realms.

The KDC checks if the client's TGT has a MS-PAC attached to it. If it doesn't (or it contains a PAD instead) the KDC does a lookup in the directory (c.1) to get the principal data. With this data (or using the data from the PAD) it creates a MS-PAC and encodes it using libndr_krb5 (c.2). Then the KDC sends back a cross-realm TGT to the IPA client.

The IPA client contacts the AD KDC (b.2) to request a ticket for the AD service, presenting the cross-realm TGT containing the MS-PAC provided by the IPA KDC.

The AD server validates and filters the PAC and returns a ticket for the AD server.

The IPA client can now contact the Ad service (b.3).

IPA managed server and MS-PAC

In a domain with AD trusts an IPA managed servers need to handle identity/authorization data conveyed in the form of a MS-PAC structure.


When a client connects (1) to the server and uses GSSAPI-Krb5 to authenticate it can provide a MS-PAC structure with the service ticket it presents to the login application. This application is linked (2) against the libgssapi library which can extract(*) the MS-PAC data and pass it (3) to SSSD through a local Unix socket or equivalent mechanism. The SSSD validates the MS-PAC data by checking signatures(*) and then use libndr_krb5 (4) to decode the MS-PAC. Once the MS-PAC is decoded, SSSD will update the cache with the information contained so that following getent requests can be properly fulfilled(**).

If the user space application requires more information than is available in the PAC (for example various group names) then SSSD may contact (5) the IPA Identity Server to get the information it needs(***). The IPA server may need eventually to contact the AD Domain to resolve Names to SIDs or SIDs to Name to reply to the client's request. IPA will use a LSARPC call, eventually on a Secure Channel, to contact (6) the AD domain controller and perform queries.

NOTE: In many cases the IPA KDC will have filtered all foreign groups from the MS-PAC and augmented it with local groups, so that this last step is rarely necessary.

(*) The method to be used is not completely finalised yet. One option assumes libgssapi will be modified to use a mechglue-proxy so that SSSD does the actual acceptor exchange and gives back the application only the session keys. Another option assumes that we have to trust all applications that have access to kerberos keys and the only thing being passed to SSSD is the actual MS-PAC. A third option is about not trusting applications but still only getting the MS-PAC blob, this means SSSD will need to validate the MS-PAC by asking one of the IPA KDCs to verify the KDC signature.

(**) An Ms-PAC contains only SIDs to represent group memberships, SSSD will be able to translate SIDs directly into GIDs, but will not have direct access to the group names (unless these groups have been previously cached). In this case only the initgroups() call can be successfully replied to w/o additional name resolution work.

(***) The protocol that will be used to resolve "foreign" users and groups from SSSD is not yet defined. It may involve using LSARPC calls against the IPA's Samba instance, or perhaps a special LDAP extended operation. This protocol will be better defined later on and this page will be corrected to reflect the decision.

IPA managed server and Password based Login

In a domain with AD trusts an IPA managed servers need to handle password based authentication too.


In this case a client wishes to connect (1) but the protocol being used or other reasons (no kerberos support on client, etc..) requires the Login application to accept a user/password pair. In this case during (1) User names will have to be fully qualified. If the AD domain name is ad.example.com with a short name of AD, Ideally we will accept at least the 2 following forms for a username:

  • AD\username
  • username@ad.example.com

These 2 forms allow SSSD to understand that we are trying to log into the system as a user from a specific domain (as opposed to the default which is IPA's). SSSD will query IPA (3) or used cached knowledge to check if this domain is known and trusted and to get back indication on how to reach the other domain KDC. Then SSSD proceeds (4) to contact the AD KDC to ask for a TGT for the user using the user's password as the shared secret.

AD will reply back with a TGT containing the MS-PAC. At this point SSSD will perform validation by first asking the AD server (5) for a cross-realm TGT for the IPA domain and then using this TGT to get a host/ ticket (6) against itself. At this point he IPA KDC will perform the usual filtering and signing of the MS-PAC (*) and attach it to the service ticket for the host.

Once the service ticket is obtained SSSD can validate that the user's TGT is correct, and can check the signatures on the MS-PAC sent back by the IPA KDC, and can decode (7) it. The resulting structure is used to populate SSSD caches and authentication and operations proceed in the same way as in the previous scenario.

(*) In a not too distant future, the IPA KDC may even decide to translate the MS-PAC into a PAD (Principal Authorization Data) which is similar but contains information in a way that is more complete for Posix machines. We are currently working on a draft proposal within IETF to have the PAD standardized so that we can soon start to use it in IPA.

Finding a name for a SID

For groups memberships the PAC only contains SIDs and no groups names. In order to use group name for access control or other kind of permission checking the SIDs have to be resolved to groups names. This can either be a name of a group of the IPA domain which has a mapping to a SID or the name of a group in the AD domain.


Once the Kerberos ticket is received, e.g. via a GSSAPI login (1), the PAC is extracted (2) and send to SSSD (3). SSSD splits the PAC into its components (4). If SSSD cannot find the name of a group related to a SID in its local cache it uses an LDAP extended operation (5) to ask the IPA server to return the names of group objects given by a list of SIDs.

For every SID in the list the IPA server will first check if a mapping to a local group is available (6) or if the SID can be found in a cache (7). If there are still unresolved SIDs the IPA server will open a RPC connection to a domain controller of the AD domain with the help of the trust credentials and sends a request to resolve the SIDs to names (8). This RPC call is preferably done directly from the extended operation plugin of the directory server. But if it is easier an external program like rpcclient or winbind can be used for a first step. The returned names are stored together with the corresponding SID in the cache and returned to the client.