pklocalauthority - PolicyKit Local Authority


The Local Authority is the default PolicyKit authority implementation. Configuration for the Local Authority and information pertaining to authorization decisions are read from local files on the disk. One design goal of the Local Authority is to split configuration items into separate files such that 3rd party packages and users won't conflict trying to edit the same files. This policy also ensures smooth upgrades when distributing PolicyKit using a package management system.


PolicyKit makes a distinction between user authentication (to make the user in front of the system prove he really is the user) and administrator authentication (to make the user in front of the system prove he really is an administrator). Since various operating systems (or even flavors of the same operating system) has different ways of defining "administrator", the Local Authority provides a way to specify what "administrator authentication" means.

By default, "administrator authentication" is defined as asking for the root password. Since some systems, for usability reasons, don't have a root password and instead rely on a group of users being member of an administrative group that gives them super-user privileges, the Local Authority can be configured to support this use-case as well.

Configuration for the Local Authority are read from files in the /etc/polkit-1/localauthority.conf.d directory. The file 50-localauthority.conf contains the settings provided by the OS vendor. Users and 3rd party packages can drop configuration files with a priority higher than 60 to change the defaults. The configuration file format is simple. Each configuration file is a key file with a single Configuration group. Only a single key, AdminIdentities is read. The value of this key is a semi-colon separated list of identities that can be used when administrator authentication is required. Users are specified by prefixing the user name with unix-user: and groups of users are specified by prefixing with unix-group:.


The Local Authority reads files with .pkla from the following directories

/var/lib/polkit-1/ ‘-- localauthority |-- 10-vendor.d |-- 20-org.d |-- 30-site.d |-- 50-local.d ‘-- 90-mandatory.d

Each .pkla contains one or more authorization entries. If the underlying filesystem supports file monitoring, the Local Authority will reload information whenever changes occur.

Each directory is intended for a specific audience


Reserved for the Operating System vendor.


Reserved for the organization deploying the system.


Reserved for site deploying the system.


Reserved for local usage.


Reserved for the organization deploying the system.

Each .pkla file is a standard key file and contains key/value pairs in one or more groups with each group representing an authorization entry. A .pkla file MUST be named by using a scheme to ensure that the name is unique, e.g. reverse DNS notation or similar.


Each group in a .pkla must have a name that is unique within the file it belongs to. The following keys are required in each group


A semi-colon separated list of globs to match identities. Each glob should start with unix-user: or unix-group: to specify whether to match on a UNIX user name or a UNIX group name.


A semi-colon separated list of globs to match action identifiers.


The result to return for subjects in an active local session that matches one or more of the given identities. Allowed values are similar to what can be used in the defaults section of .policy files used to define actions, e.g. yes, no, auth_self, auth_self_keep, auth_admin and auth_admin_keep.


Like ResultActive but instead applies to subjects in inactive local sessions.


Like ResultActive but instead applies to any subject.

All keys specified above are required except that only at least one of RequireAny, RequireInactive and RequireActive is present.


Whenever a Mechanism does an authorization check to check if a given Subject is authorized for a given action, the authorization entries discussed above are consulted in the following order. First, the user of the Subject is determined and the groups that the user belongs are looked up.

For each group identity, the authorization entries are consulted in the standard lexigraphical order (using standard lexicographical sorting (using the standard C locale) of file names and appearance of each group in each file). If the authorization check matches the data from the authorization check, then the authorization result from RequireAny, RequireInactive or RequireActive is used. Finally, the authorization entries are consulted using the user identity.

Note that processing continues even after a match. This allows for socalled \(lqnegative authorizations\(rq, see the section called \(lqEXAMPLES\(rq for further discussion.


The following .pkla file grants authorization to all users in the staff group for actions matching the glob com.example.awesomeproduct.* provided they are in an active session on the local console:

[Normal Staff Permissions] Identity=unix-group:staff Action=com.example.awesomeproduct.* ResultAny=no ResultInactive=no ResultActive=yes

If the users homer and grimes are member of the staff group but policy requires that an administrator needs to authenticate every time authorization for any action matching com.example.awesomeproduct.* is required, one would add

[Exclude Some Problematic Users] Identity=unix-user:homer;unix-user:grimes Action=com.example.awesomeproduct.* ResultAny=no ResultInactive=no ResultActive=auth_admin

and make sure this authorization entry is after the first one.


Written by David Zeuthen with a lot of help from many others.


Please send bug reports to either the distribution or the polkit-devel mailing list, see the link \m[blue]\m[] on how to subscribe.



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