kerberos -- introduction to the Kerberos system
Kerberos is a network authentication system. Its purpose is to securely
authenticate users and services in an insecure network environment.
This is done with a Kerberos server acting as a trusted third party,
keeping a database with secret keys for all users and services (collectively
Each principal belongs to exactly one realm, which is the administrative
domain in Kerberos. A realm usually corresponds to an organisation, and
the realm should normally be derived from that organisation's domain
name. A realm is served by one or more Kerberos servers.
The authentication process involves exchange of `tickets' and
`authenticators' which together prove the principal's identity.
When you login to the Kerberos system, either through the normal system
login or with the kinit(1) program, you acquire a ticket granting ticket
which allows you to get new tickets for other services, such as telnet or
ftp, without giving your password.
For more information on how Kerberos works, and other general Kerberos
questions see the Kerberos FAQ at
For setup instructions see the Heimdal Texinfo manual.
ftp(1), kdestroy(1), kinit(1), klist(1), kpasswd(1), telnet(1)
The Kerberos authentication system was developed in the late 1980's as
part of the Athena Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Versions one through three never reached outside MIT, but version 4 was
(and still is) quite popular, especially in the academic community, but
is also used in commercial products like the AFS filesystem.
The problems with version 4 are that it has many limitations, the code
was not too well written (since it had been developed over a long time),
and it has a number of known security problems. To resolve many of these
issues work on version five started, and resulted in IETF RFC1510 in
1993. Since then much work has been put into the further development, and
a new RFC will hopefully appear soon.
This manual manual page is part of the Heimdal Kerberos 5 distribution,
which has been in development at the Royal Institute of Technology in
Stockholm, Sweden, since about 1997.
HEIMDAL September 1, 2000 HEIMDAL
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