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2.3.3. Authentication schemes

To cope with the wide variety of deployment environments, the libvirt RPC service supports a number of authentication schemes on its data transports, with industry standard encryption and authentication capabilities. The choice of authentication scheme is configured by the administrator in the /etc/libvirt/libvirtd.conf file.

Table 2.2. Schemes

Scheme
Description
sasl
SASL is a industry standard for pluggable authentication mechanisms. Each plug-in has a wide variety of capabilities and discussion of their merits is outside the scope of this document. For the tls data transport there is a wide choice of plug-ins, since TLS is providing data encryption for the network channel. For the tcp data transport, libvirt will refuse to use any plug-in which does not support data encryption. This effectively limits the choice to GSSAPI/Kerberos. SASL can optionally be enabled on the UNIX domain socket data transport if strong authentication of local users is required.
polkit
PolicyKit is an authentication scheme suitable for local desktop virtualization deployments, for use only on the UNIX domain socket data transport. It enables the libvirtd daemon to validate that the client application is running within the local X desktop session. It can be configured to allow access to a logged in user automatically, or prompt them to enter their own password, or the superuser (root) password.
x509
Although not strictly an authentication scheme, the TLS data transport can be configured to mandate the use of client x509 certificates. The server can then whitelist the client distinguished names to control access.