Spice and RHEV, a RHCE goes MCSE

I’m currently working in a project which includes some virtual Linux desktops. The desktop of choice is RHEL6.

How to bring a Linux desktop via WAN to a thin client? VNC -> are you nuts? Remote X11 over SSH -> WAN = no go. NX -> another vendor involved. SPICE -> Spicy! But: Spice over WAN? To be tested…

SPICE is the protocol used by RHEV (Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization). Some time ago I had the chance to test this stuff @Red Hat in Munich. The experience was nice, it is comparable to vSphere, but it only works with MS Internet explorer due to ActiveX and .Net stuff.

The management software needs to be installed on a Windows 2008R2 server. The database to be used is – you guess it – MS SQL. Users are authenticated either by Active Directory (Not generic LDAP!) or local Windows Users. Holy cow!

At first, when I got this product presented by Red Hat I was LOL. Now, it seems that I need to refresh my Windows knowledge because it seems to be the only product capable to provide enterprise ready Linux desktop virtualization. I’m crying 🙁

At least the hypervisor used is not MS HyperV, it is KVM based on RHEL5, to replaced with RHEL6 in the future.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel: Red Hat is working on a replacement of the Windows-bound stuff. It will be replaced with some JBOSS and Java stuff. The database will probably be PostgreSQL. It will take some time to develop it before it will be ready for production.

Since Red Hat is opensourcing all (or most) of its products, it would be great to get in touch with the upstream project (release early, release often).

In meantime I need to build up knowledge about Windows Server 2008R2, Active Directory, MS SQL Server and DotNet.

Having fun?

Set up a Red Hat Directory Server and Kerberos Part I

Kerberos and LDAP are today’s way of single sign on. It is platform independent and supported by a wide range of applications.

Together with the Red Hat Directory Server (also available as CentOS Directory Server and 389 Directory Server from Fedora) you can build a neat identity management infrastructure.

Setting up the Directory Server
However there are some pitfalls when installing such a integrated solution. Installing redhat-ds is quite easy, just ensure you define your planned LDAP Namespace and default LDAP Suffix before running setup-ds-admin.pl. If you plan to setup a replica, run the script with the -k parameter: setup-ds-admin.pl -k. The servers configuration will be saved as /tmp/setup*.inf and can be used to setup the replica after changing the FullMachineName and ServerIdentifier.

In my example I used the DN “cn=Directory Manager. As base I used dc=ldap,dc=example,dc=com. This is the Internet Domain Suffix style of naming an LDAP space. The older X500 style should not be used anymore.

Have a look to man openldap.conf to see how to shorten your CLI entries such as ldapsearch -x.

Setting up Kerberos
After setting the right configurations in your /etc/krb5.conf (the sample content is self-explanatory) and its distribution, you need to initialize your key store database. This is to be done with kdb_util as follows:

[root@server]# kdb5_util create -r EXAMPLE.COM -s
Loading random data
Initializing database '/var/kerberos/krb5kdc/principal' for realm 'EXAMPLE.COM',
master key name 'K/M@EXAMPLE.COM'
You will be prompted for the database Master Password.
It is important that you NOT FORGET this password.
Enter KDC database master key:
Re-enter KDC database master key to verify:

Keep in mind! Kerberos Realms are all uppercase to distinguish them from DNS names!

In the config file for the Key Distribution Center /var/kerberos/krb5kd/kdc.conf add the following in Realm Stanza: default_principal_flags =+ preauth. This will enhance security or your Kerberos Infrastructure. Also change the example Realm to what you are going to plan to use. In /var/kerberos/krb5kd/ kadm5.acl you can define the ACLs for e.g. admins or service desk employees etc. Also check the correctness of the Realm.

Feed the keystore

Now it is time to feed the database with the first principal: root. We also can create our first host principal at the same time.
Fire up kadmin.local. The kadmin.local app accesses directly the DB files on the server. Its should only be used on initial setup. Later on you will have kadmin which also works on the net, of course with Kerberos authentication.

[root@server ~]# kadmin.local
Authenticating as principal root/admin@EXAMPLE.COM with password.
kadmin.local:  addprinc root/admin
WARNING: no policy specified for root/admin@EXAMPLE.COM; defaulting to no policy
Enter password for principal "root/admin@EXAMPLE.COM":
Re-enter password for principal "root/admin@EXAMPLE.COM":
Principal "root/admin@EXAMPLE.COM" created.
kadmin.local:  addprinc -randkey host/server1.example.com
WARNING: no policy specified for host/server1.example.com@EXAMPLE.COM; defaulting to no policy
Principal "host/server1.example.com@EXAMPLE.COM" created.
kadmin.local:  q
[root@server ~]#

After starting the kadmin and kdc services you can access the admin server with the normal kamin tool.

service kadmin start
chkconfig kadmin on
service krb5kdc start
chkconfig krb5kdc on

Now we need to create a host principal for each to be kerberized host and store it in its keytab.

End of Part I

What comes in Part II?

  • LDAP Service Principal
  • Getting Kerberos and LDAP working together
  • Migrating users from /etc/passwd to LDAP
  • Playing with PAM

Have fun!

Directory services and Linux

LDAP is interesting, but not that easy to set up, at least not the server part.

I made different approaches to install OpenLDAP without success, the problem was always the schemas and initial data load.

With Red Hat Directory Server and its open source pendant CentOS Directory Server I was able to successfully install and maintain a LDAP directory.

Red Hat Directory Server is the successor of the Netscape Directory Server which has been purchased by Red Hat some time ago and has been open-sourced to comply with Red Hats product policy.

Is the Red Hat directory server a replacement for OpenLDAP? Yes and no. Yes because it is a open source product, available for free, and NO because there is only a small community around it.

To have a fully supported environment you need to buy a subscription from Red Hat. The starter is List-Priced @ 5000 USD/year for 500 entries. I think price tag is completely insane.

In contrary the open source variant CentOS directory server is for free. Decide by your self whats the right solution for you, OpenLDAP is definitively not ready for enterprise authentication.

Another approach is authenticating against a Microsoft Active Directory. This causes other problems which will be discussed in a future blog

Have fun!.