43.6.8. Setting Up Secondary KDCs

43.6.8. Setting Up Secondary KDCs

For a number of reasons, you may choose to run multiple KDCs for a given realm. In this scenario, one KDC (the master KDC) keeps a writable copy of the realm database and runs kadmind (it is also your realm's admin server), and one or more KDCs (slave KDCs) keep read-only copies of the database and run kpropd.

The master-slave propagation procedure entails the master KDC dumping its database to a temporary dump file and then transmitting that file to each of its slaves, which then overwrite their previously-received read-only copies of the database with the contents of the dump file.

To set up a slave KDC, first ensure that the master KDC's krb5.conf and kdc.conf files are copied to the slave KDC.

Start kadmin.local from a root shell on the master KDC and use its add_principal command to create a new entry for the master KDC's host service, and then use its ktadd command to simultaneously set a random key for the service and store the random key in the master's default keytab file. This key will be used by the kprop command to authenticate to the slave servers. You will only need to do this once, regardless of how many slave servers you install.


#kadmin.local -r EXAMPLE.COM Authenticating as principal root/admin@EXAMPLE.COM with password. kadmin:add_principal -randkey host/masterkdc.example.com Principal "host/host/masterkdc.example.com@EXAMPLE.COM" created. kadmin:ktadd host/masterkdc.example.com Entry for principal host/masterkdc.example.com with kvno 3, encryption type Triple DES cbc mode with \ HMAC/sha1 added to keytab WRFILE:/etc/krb5.keytab. Entry for principal host/masterkdc.example.com with kvno 3, encryption type ArcFour with HMAC/md5 \ added to keytab WRFILE:/etc/krb5.keytab. Entry for principal host/masterkdc.example.com with kvno 3, encryption type DES with HMAC/sha1 added \ to keytab WRFILE:/etc/krb5.keytab. Entry for principal host/masterkdc.example.com with kvno 3, encryption type DES cbc mode with RSA-MD5 \ added to keytab WRFILE:/etc/krb5.keytab. kadmin:quit

Start kadmin from a root shell on the slave KDC and use its add_principal command to create a new entry for the slave KDC's host service, and then use kadmin's ktadd command to simultaneously set a random key for the service and store the random key in the slave's default keytab file. This key is used by the kpropd service when authenticating clients.


#kadmin -p jimbo/admin@EXAMPLE.COM -r EXAMPLE.COM Authenticating as principal jimbo/admin@EXAMPLE.COM with password. Password for jimbo/admin@EXAMPLE.COM: kadmin:add_principal -randkey host/slavekdc.example.com Principal "host/slavekdc.example.com@EXAMPLE.COM" created. kadmin:ktadd host/slavekdc.example.com@EXAMPLE.COM Entry for principal host/slavekdc.example.com with kvno 3, encryption type Triple DES cbc mode with \ HMAC/sha1 added to keytab WRFILE:/etc/krb5.keytab. Entry for principal host/slavekdc.example.com with kvno 3, encryption type ArcFour with HMAC/md5 added \ to keytab WRFILE:/etc/krb5.keytab. Entry for principal host/slavekdc.example.com with kvno 3, encryption type DES with HMAC/sha1 added \ to keytab WRFILE:/etc/krb5.keytab. Entry for principal host/slavekdc.example.com with kvno 3, encryption type DES cbc mode with RSA-MD5 added \ to keytab WRFILE:/etc/krb5.keytab. kadmin:quit

With its service key, the slave KDC could authenticate any client which would connect to it. Obviously, not all of them should be allowed to provide the slave's kprop service with a new realm database. To restrict access, the kprop service on the slave KDC will only accept updates from clients whose principal names are listed in /var/kerberos/krb5kdc/kpropd.acl. Add the master KDC's host service's name to that file.


#echo host/masterkdc.example.com@EXAMPLE.COM > /var/kerberos/krb5kdc/kpropd.acl

Once the slave KDC has obtained a copy of the database, it will also need the master key which was used to encrypt it. If your KDC database's master key is stored in a stash file on the master KDC (typically named /var/kerberos/krb5kdc/.k5.REALM, either copy it to the slave KDC using any available secure method, or create a dummy database and identical stash file on the slave KDC by running kdb5_util create -s (the dummy database will be overwritten by the first successful database propagation) and supplying the same password.

Ensure that the slave KDC's firewall allows the master KDC to contact it using TCP on port 754 (krb5_prop), and start the kprop service. Then, double-check that the kadmin service is disabled.

Now perform a manual database propagation test by dumping the realm database, on the master KDC, to the default data file which the kprop command will read (/var/kerberos/krb5kdc/slave_datatrans), and then use the kprop command to transmit its contents to the slave KDC.


#/usr/kerberos/sbin/kdb5_util dump /var/kerberos/krb5kdc/slave_datatrans#kprop slavekdc.example.com

Using kinit, verify that a client system whose krb5.conf lists only the slave KDC in its list of KDCs for your realm is now correctly able to obtain initial credentials from the slave KDC.

That done, simply create a script which dumps the realm database and runs the kprop command to transmit the database to each slave KDC in turn, and configure the cron service to run the script periodically.


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