Securing the Cyrus SASL Sample Server and Client with Kerberos

Since running the Cyrus SASL sample server and client was not too bad, I figured I would see what happened when I tried to secure it using Kerberos.


I’m going to run this on a system that has been enrolled as a FreeIPA client, so I start with a known good Kerberos setup.

To see the list of mechanisms available, run


I have the following available.


For Kerberos, I want to use GSSAPI.

Lets do this the hard way, by trial and error. First, run the server, telling it to use the GSSAPI mechanism

/usr/bin/sasl2-sample-server -p 1789 -h localhost -s hello  -m GSSAPI

Then run the client in another terminal:

sasl2-sample-client -s hello -p 1789  -m GSSAPI localhost

Which includes the following in the output:

starting SASL negotiation: generic failure
SASL(-1): generic failure: GSSAPI Error: Unspecified GSS failure. Minor code may provide more information (No Kerberos credentials available)
closing connection


I need a Kerberos TGT in order to get a service ticket. Use kinit

$ kinit admin
Password for admin@AYOUNG-DELL-T1700.TEST: 

This time the error message is:

starting SASL negotiation: generic failure
SASL(-1): generic failure: GSSAPI Error: Unspecified GSS failure. Minor code may provide more information (Server rcmd/localhost@AYOUNG-DELL-T1700.TEST not found in Kerberos database)

I notice two things, here:

  1. The service needs to be in the Kerberos servers directory.
  2. the service name should match the hostname.


If I rerun the command using the FQDN of the server, I can see the service name as expected:


$ sasl2-sample-client -s hello -p 1789 -m GSSAPI undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.testreceiving capability list... ...
SASL(-1): generic failure: GSSAPI Error: Unspecified GSS failure.  Minor code may provide more information (Server hello/undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test@AYOUNG-DELL-T1700.TEST not found in Kerberos database)
closing connection


So I tried to create the service in the ipa server:

ipa service-add
Principal: hello/overcloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test@AYOUNG-DELL-T1700.TEST
ipa: ERROR: Host does not have corresponding DNS A/AAAA record
[stack@overcloud ~]$ ipa service-find

Strange error, I don’t understand, as the Host does have an A record.

Work around it with Force:

ipa service-add  --force  hello/undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test@AYOUNG-DELL-T1700.TEST


Added service "hello/undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test@AYOUNG-DELL-T1700.TEST"
  Principal: hello/undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test@AYOUNG-DELL-T1700.TEST
  Managed by: undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test

OK, lets try running this again.

 sasl2-sample-client -s hello -p 1789 -m GSSAPI 

SASL(-1): generic failure: GSSAPI Error: Unspecified GSS failure.  Minor code may provide more information (KDC has no support for encryption type)


OK, I’m going to guess that this is because my remote service can’t deal with the Kerberos service tickets it is getting. Since the service tickets are for the principal: hello/undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test@AYOUNG-DELL-T1700.TEST it needs to be able to decrypt requests using a key meant for this principal.

Fetch a keytab for that principal, and put it in a place where the GSSAPI libraries can access it automatically. This place is:


Where {uid} is the numeric UID for a users. In this case, the users name is stack and I can find the numeric UID value using getent.


ipa-getkeytab -p hello/undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test@AYOUNG-DELL-T1700.TEST -k client.keytab  -s identity.ayoung-dell-t1700.test
Keytab successfully retrieved and stored in: client.keytab
$  getent passwd stack
$ sudo mkdir /var/kerberos/krb5/user/1000
$ sudo chown stack:stack /var/kerberos/krb5/user/1000
$ mv client.keytab /var/kerberos/krb5/user/1000

Restart the server process, try again, and the log is interesting. Here is the full client side trace.

$ sasl2-sample-client -s hello -p 1789 -m GSSAPI undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test
receiving capability list... recv: {6}
please enter an authorization id: admin
using mechanism GSSAPI
send: {6}
send: {1}
send: {655}
`[82][2][8B][6][9]*[86]H[86][F7][12][1][2][2][1][0]n[82][2]z0[82][2]v[A0][3][2][1][5][A1][3][2][1][E][A2][7][3][5][0] [0][0][0][A3][82][1][82]a[82][1]~0[82][1]z[A0][3][2][1][5][A1][18][1B][16]AYOUNG-DELL-T1700.TEST[A2]503[A0][3][2][1][3][A1],0*[1B][5]hello[1B]!undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test[A3][82][1] 0[82][1][1C][A0][3][2][1][12][A1][3][2][1][1][A2][82][1][E][4][82][1][A]T[DD][F8]B[F4][B4]5[D]`[A3]![EE][19]-NN[8E][F5][B7]{O,#[91][A4]}[86]k[D5][EE]vL[E4]&[6][3][A][1C][91][A5][A7][88]j[D1][A3][82][EC][A][D6][CB][F3]9[C][13]#[94][86]d+[B8]V[B7]C^[C6][A8][16][D1]r[E4][0][B9][2][2]&2[E5]Y~[C1]\([BA]x}[17][BC][D][FC][D5][CA][CA]h[E4][A1][81].[15][17]?[CA][A][8B]}[1C]l[F0][D9][E8][96]3<+[84][E7]q.[8E][D5][6][1C]p[E6][6]v[B0][84]5[9][B7]w[D6]3[B8][E3][5]T[BF][92][AA][D5][B3][[83]X[C0]:[BA]V[E5]{>[A5]T[F6]j[CB]p[BF]][EF][E1][91][ED][C][F3]Y[4]x[8E][C2]H[E7][14]#9[EE]5[B3]=[FA][80][DD][93][EF]3[0]q~22[6]I<[EB][F9]V[D1][9D][A8][A6]:[CE]u[AE]-l[D3]"[D7][FE]iB[84][E0]]B[E][C8]U[E][FD][D2]=[F2][97][88][D3][DA]j[B4][FA][16][D1]^CE2?[9F][89]^A[E9][AF][1A]5[99][CE][7][AF]M[1A][A][CB]^[E1][BA]f[7]-n<[F8]8![A4][81][DA]0[81][D7][A0][3][2][1][12][A2][81][CF][4][81][CC][91][F0][A]D[91][F6][FA][F4][B9][13][DF]d|[F4]Y[DF][9E]M[A2]f[11][15]x[C5]-|Qt[F4]nL>@[F4][18][FF],[F6][B5]F6[EC]+[C3]V[F1][81][97][E2][1D]i[4]wD&[9A]V[CE][A1][16][D7]4[E0]C[B]O[D1]v[DD][E9][84]lW[DA]%[F6]v[93]<m"SAfiF[8E][[95]"[CC][D2]4[FA]_[FB]i[E7][D4]M[AE][5][82][FF][D7][0][8C]6[8D][B0]3[F8][E3][B4]P[9C][9E][A2]`[7]U[F7][1D]zub[E0]([A9]P>[AE]f[1A][B1][80][A0]}s[EA][D1]Zk[FF]n_S[9E]rK[E5]n [85]#[DB][FF][B3][E2][19];[F5][E2][8A]>2[E5][A4][81][E8]z[9D][E3][BC][C8][87][F]:[81]7[C9]ix[1E]5[15])[8D][9D][C7][DB][13][98][97][C7]C[6]q[D2][C1][ED][B3]:[E0]
waiting for server reply...
authentication failed
closing connection

On the server side, it looks similar, but ends like this:

starting SASL negotiation: generic failureclosing connection

It is not a GSSAPI error this time. To dig deeper, I’m going to look at the source code on the server side.


I’ll shortcut a few steps. Install both gdb and the debugInfo for the sample code:

sudo yum install gdb
sudo debuginfo-install cyrus-sasl-devel-2.1.26-20.el7_2.x86_64

Note that the version might change for the debuginfo.

The source code is included with the debuginfo rpm:

$ rpmquery  --list cyrus-sasl-debuginfo-2.1.26-20.el7_2.x86_64 | grep server.c

Looking at the server code at line 267 I see:

if (r != SASL_OK && r != SASL_CONTINUE) {
saslerr(r, “starting SASL negotiation”);
fputc(‘N’, out); /* send NO to client */
return -1;

Let’s put a breakpoint at line 255 above it and see what is happening. Here is the session for setting up the breakpoint:

$  gdb /usr/bin/sasl2-sample-server
(gdb) break 255
Breakpoint 1 at 0x2557: file server.c, line 255.
(gdb) run  -h undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test -p 1789 -m GSSAPI

Running the client code gets as far as prompting for the please enter an authorization id: admiyo

This is suspect. We’ll come back to it in a moment.

Back on the server, now, we see the breakpoint has been hit.

Breakpoint 1, mysasl_negotiate (in=0x55555575c150, out=0x55555575c390, conn=0x55555575a6e0)
    at server.c:255
255	    if(buf[0] == 'Y') {
Missing separate debuginfos, use: debuginfo-install keyutils-libs-1.5.8-3.el7.x86_64 libdb-5.3.21-19.el7.x86_64 libselinux-2.2.2-6.el7.x86_64 nss-softokn-freebl- openssl-libs-1.0.1e-51.el7_2.7.x86_64 pcre-8.32-15.el7_2.1.x86_64 xz-libs-5.1.2-12alpha.el7.x86_64 zlib-1.2.7-15.el7.x86_64

We might need some other RPMS if we want to step deeper through the code, but for now, let’s keep on here.

(gdb) print buf
$1 = "Y", '\000' ...
(gdb) n
257	        len = recv_string(in, buf, sizeof(buf));
(gdb) n
recv: {655}
`[82][2][8B][6][9]*[86]H[86][F7][12][1][2][2][1][0]n[82][2]z0[82][2]v[A0][3][2][1][5][A1][3][2][1][E][A2][7][3][5][0] [0][0][0][A3][82][1][82]a[82][1]~0[82][1]z[A0][3][2][1][5][A1][18][1B][16]AYOUNG-DELL-T1700.TEST[A2]503[A0][3][2][1][3][A1],0*[1B][5]hello[1B]!undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test[A3][82][1] 0[82][1][1C][A0][3][2][1][12][A1][3][2][1][1][A2][82][1][E][4][82][1][A]T[DD][F8]B[F4][B4]5[D]`[A3]![EE][19]-NN[8E][F5][B7]{O,#[91][A4]}[86]k[D5][EE]vL[E4]&[6][3][A][1C][91][A5][A7][88]j[D1][A3][82][EC][A][D6][CB][F3]9[C][13]#[94][86]d+[B8]V[B7]C^[C6][A8][16][D1]r[E4][0][B9][2][2]&2[E5]Y~[C1]\([BA]x}[17][BC][D][FC][D5][CA][CA]h[E4][A1][81].[15][17]?[CA][A][8B]}[1C]l[F0][D9][E8][96]3<+[84][E7]q.[8E][D5][6][1C]p[E6][6]v[B0][84]5[9][B7]w[D6]3[B8][E3][5]T[BF][92][AA][D5][B3][[83]X[C0]:[BA]V[E5]{>[A5]T[F6]j[CB]p[BF]][EF][E1][91][ED][C][F3]Y[4]x[8E][C2]H[E7][14]#9[EE]5[B3]=[FA][80][DD][93][EF]3[0]q~22[6]I<[EB][F9]V[D1][9D][A8][A6]:[CE]u[AE]-l[D3]"[D7][FE]iB[84][E0]]B[E][C8]U[E][FD][D2]=[F2][97][88][D3][DA]j[B4][FA][16][D1]^CE2?[9F][89]^A[E9][AF][1A]5[99][CE][7][AF]M[1A][A][CB]^[E1][BA]f[7]-n<[F8]8![A4][81][DA]0[81][D7][A0][3][2][1][12][A2][81][CF][4][81][CC]hgdf j[CF][AE][7F]:![1C]D[F8]3^w[B7];"[3][D8]3"[8]i[9]J[D3]R[F]A[E7]![BE]0<[8][D3]'j`[B7]J[16][A9][F3][E6]=[E5]J[FE].-[A1]t[[2]W[8D]7[F3][8][EC][92][BB][A3]o5h[C1]A[CC][A2][F1][99][AA][93]2{[BA]Mx0[9D][9][CC]![A]Y[12][D8][2][95][17]ml[B4][1A][94]y[1A][BC][D2]I[8F]7Vg2[8E]6[13]:Lx[E6][1][D3][3][7]r?[12][84]3[B1][B5][AA]E)[EA][87][A][9F]Nk[D1]I[FD]{[B8]9#-[D][8]2[CC]C1[A8]Lfl[B0][E8][82][13][F9]t[1A][F6]^[8D] O13[12]L[E7][C0]k[99][E1]J[1F][FE]#[14]u[B][B2][8F][DB][E6]73*[FA][ED][11][F7][9E][B0][DC][D9][19][AB][97][D7][8B][BB]
260	        r = sasl_server_start(conn, chosenmech, buf, len,
(gdb) print len
$2 = 1
(gdb) n
257	        len = recv_string(in, buf, sizeof(buf));
260	        r = sasl_server_start(conn, chosenmech, buf, len,
267	    if (r != SASL_OK && r != SASL_CONTINUE) {
Missing separate debuginfos, use: debuginfo-install gssproxy-0.4.1-8.el7_2.x86_64
(gdb) print r
$3 = -1

A -1 response code usually is an error. Looking in /usr/include/sasl/sasl.h:

#define SASL_FAIL -1 /* generic failure */

I wonder if we can figure out why. Let’ see, first, if we can figure out what the client is sending in the authentication request. If it is a bad principal, then we have a pretty good reason to expect the server to reject it.

Let’s let the server continue running, and try debugging the client.

Client code can be found here

$ rpmquery  --list cyrus-sasl-debuginfo | grep client.c

At line 258 I see the call to sasl_client_start which includes what appears to be the initialization of the data variable. Set a breakpoint there

Running the code in the debugger like this:

$ gdb sasl2-sample-client
(gdb) break 258
Breakpoint 1 at 0x201b: file client.c, line 258.
(gdb) run -s hello -p 1789 -m GSSAPI undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test
Starting program: /bin/sasl2-sample-client -s hello -p 1789 -m GSSAPI undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test
[Thread debugging using libthread_db enabled]
Using host libthread_db library "/lib64/".
receiving capability list... recv: {6}

Breakpoint 1, mysasl_negotiate (in=0x55555575cab0, out=0x55555575ccf0, conn=0x55555575b520)
    at client.c:258
258	    r = sasl_client_start(conn, mech, NULL, &data, &len, &chosenmech);
(gdb) print data
$1 = 0x0
(gdb) print mech
$2 = 0x7fffffffe714 "GSSAPI"
(gdb) print conn
$3 = (sasl_conn_t *) 0x55555575b520
(gdb) print len
$4 = 6
(gdb) n
please enter an authorization id: 

So it is the SASL library itself requesting an authorization ID. Let me try putting in the full Principal associated with the service ticket.

please enter an authorization id: ayoung@AYOUNG-DELL-T1700.TEST
259	    if (r != SASL_OK && r != SASL_CONTINUE) {
Missing separate debuginfos, use: debuginfo-install gssproxy-0.4.1-8.el7_2.x86_64
(gdb) print r
$5 = 1

And from sasl.h we know that is good.

#define SASL_CONTINUE 1 /* another step is needed in authentication */

Let’s let it continue.

authentication failed

Nope. Continuing through the debugger, I see another generic failure here:

1531	            } else {
1532	                /* Mech wants client-first, so let them have it */
1533	                result = sasl_server_step(conn,
1534	                                          clientin,
1535						  clientinlen,
1536	                                          serverout,
1537						  serveroutlen);
(gdb) n
1557	    if (  result != SASL_OK
(gdb) print result
$15 = -1

Still…why is the Client side SASL call kicking into an interactive prompt? There should be enough information via the GSSAPI SASL library interaction to authenticate. The Man page for sasl_client_start even indicates that there might be prompts returned.

Looking deeper at the client code, I do see that the prompt is from line 122. The function simple at line 107 must be set as a callback. Perhaps the client code is not smart enough to work with the GSSAPI? At line 190 and 192 I see that the simple code is provided as a callback for the responses SASL_CB_USER or SASL_CB_AUTHNAME. Setting a break point and rerunning shows the id value to be 16385 or x4001.

#define SASL_CB_USER 0x4001 /* client user identity to login as */


Humility and Success

If you have followed through this far, you know I am in the weeds. I asked for help. Help, in this case,was Robbie Harwood, how showed me that the sample server/client worked OK if I ran the server as root, and userd the service host instead of hello. That gave me a succesfful comparison other to work with. I ran using strace and noticed that the failing version was not trying to read the keytab file from /var/kerberos/krb5/user/1000/client.keytab. The successful one running as root read the keytab from /etc/krb5.keytab THe failing one was trying to read from there and getting a permissions failure. The final blow that took down the wall was to realize that the krb5.conf file defined different values for default_client_keytab_name and default_keytab_name, with the latter being set to FILE:/etc/krb5.keytab. To work around this, I needed the environment variable KRB5_KTNAME to be set to the keytab. This was the winning entry:

KRB5_KTNAME=/var/kerberos/krb5/user/1000/client.keytab  sasl2-sample-server -h $HOSTNAME -p 9999 -s hello -m GSSAPI 

And then ran

sasl2-sample-client -s hello -p 9999 -m GSSAPI undercloud.ayoung-dell-t1700.test

Oh, one other tyhing Robbie told me was that the string I type when prompted with

please enter an authorization id:

Should be the Kerberos principal, minus the Realm, so for me it was

please enter an authorization id: ayoung

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