|PolicyKit Reference Manual
polkit — Authorization Framework
PolicyKit provides an authorization API intended to be used by privileged programs (“MECHANISMS”) offering service to unprivileged programs (“CLIENTS”) through some form of IPC mechanism such as D-Bus or Unix pipes. In this scenario, the mechanism typically treats the client as untrusted. For every request from a client, the mechanism needs to determine if the request is authorized or if it should refuse to service the client. Using the PolicyKit API, a mechanism can offload this decision to a trusted party: The PolicyKit Authority.
In addition to acting as an authority, PolicyKit allows users to obtain temporary authorization through authenticating either an administrative user or the owner of the session the client belongs to. This is useful for scenarios where a mechanism needs to verify that the operator of the system really is the user or really is an administrative user.
The system architecture of PolicyKit is comprised of the Authority (implemented as a service on the system message bus) and a Authentication Agent per user session (provided and started by the user session e.g. GNOME or KDE). Additionally, PolicyKit supports a number of extension points – specifically, vendors and/or sites can write extensions to completely control authorization policy. In a block diagram, the architecture looks like this:
For convenience, the
library wraps the PolicyKit D-Bus API using GObject. However, a
mechanism can also use the D-Bus API or the
command to check authorizations.
libpolkit-agent-1 library provides an
abstraction of the native authentication system, e.g.
and also facilities registration and communication with the
PolicyKit D-Bus service.
PolicyKit extensions and authority backends are implemented
See the developer documentation for more information about using and extending PolicyKit.
See pklocalauthority(8) for information about the Local Authority - the default authority implementation shipped with PolicyKit.
An authentication agent is used to make the user of a session prove that the user of the session really is the user (by authenticating as the user) or an administrative user (by authenticating as a administrator). In order to integrate well with the rest of the user session (e.g. match the look and feel), authentication agents are meant to be provided by the user session that the user uses. For example, an authentication agent may look like this:
If the system is configured without a root account it may allow you to select the administrative user who is authenticating:
on how to set up the local authority
implemention for systems without a
A mechanism need to declare a set of “ACTIONS” in
order to use PolicyKit. Actions correspond to operations that
clients can request the mechanism to carry out and are defined
in XML files that the mechanism installs into
PolicyKit actions are namespaced and can only contain the
[a-z][0-9].- e.g. lower-case
ASCII, digits, period and hyphen. Each XML file can contain more
than one action but all actions need to be in the same namespace
and the file needs to be named after the namespace and have the
The XML file must have the following doctype declaration
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <!DOCTYPE policyconfig PUBLIC "-//freedesktop//DTD PolicyKit Policy Configuration 1.0//EN" "http://www.freedesktop.org/standards/PolicyKit/1.0/policyconfig.dtd">
The policyconfig element must be present exactly once. Elements that can be used inside policyconfig includes:
The name of the project or vendor that is supplying the actions in the XML document. Optional.
A URL to the project or vendor that is supplying the actions in the XML document. Optional.
An icon representing the project or vendor that is supplying the actions in the XML document. The icon name must adhere to the Freedesktop.org Icon Naming Specification. Optional.
Declares an action. The action name is
specified using the
Elements that can be used inside action includes:
A human readable description of the action, e.g. “Install unsigned software”.
A human readable message displayed to the user when asking for credentials when authentication is needed, e.g. “Installing unsigned software requires authentication”.
This element is used to specify implicit authorizations for clients.
Elements that can be used inside defaults includes:
Each of the allow_any, allow_inactive and allow_active elements can contain the following values:
Used for annotating an action with a key/value
pair. The key is specified using the
Used for overriding the vendor on a per-action basis. Optional.
Used for overriding the vendor URL on a per-action basis. Optional.
Used for overriding the icon name on a per-action basis. Optional.
For localization, description
and message elements may occur multiple
times with different
To list installed PolicyKit actions, use the pkaction(1) command.
Written by David Zeuthen
a lot of help from many others.
Please send bug reports to either the distribution or the polkit-devel mailing list, see the link http://lists.freedesktop.org/mailman/listinfo/polkit-devel on how to subscribe.