Using Smart Card Public Key Authentication¶
Smart card public key authentication is an advanced version of the method described in Using Public Key Authentication. It uses the same basic principle but stores the private key on a smart card, where it can never be extracted. This section will describe how to configure ThinLinc to use it.
Smart cards with an appropriate PKCS#11 library. The library included with ThinLinc requires PKCS#15 compliant smart cards and PC/SC libraries on the client system.
The keys on the smart card are generated when the smart card is issued. How this is done is not covered by this guide.
To use a smart card with ThinLinc, the public key must be extracted off the card and associated with a user on the ThinLinc server. The method for doing this depends on your smart card and your SSH server.
On Linux, with the OpenSSH server and an PKCS#15 compliant smart card, the tool pkcs15-tool (part of the OpenSC suite) is able to extract the public key.
The first step is identifying the certificate on the card:
$ pkcs15-tool --list-certificates X.509 Certificate [identification] Flags : 0 Authority: no Path : 3f0050154331 ID : 45
The second step is to extract the key, based on the ID number:
$ pkcs15-tool --read-ssh-key 45 1024 65537 918282501237151981353694684191630174855276113858858644490084487922635 27407657612671471887563630990149686313179737831148878256058532261207121307761545 37226554073750496652425001832055579758510787971892507619849564722087378266977930 9875752082163453335538210518946058646748977963861144645730357512544251473818679 ssh-rsa AAAAB3NzaC1yc2EAAAADAQABAAAAgQCCxIx/xtVoDR2qwY4Pym7F6yKmdJsB26MUbbTiGT7o 6M6G4A2l5Go1kdQRNjOWDJE9HZWToaApSkVprNeiQLeOkbELz2yND2Te/Oyl3u44YeIUImT1v4t7q9jC MTpfZ+TpxLf0sd3DAk2So8EBAtUkhib/ugKqfTCqB7WNoHf0Nw==
The second line, starting with
ssh-rsa, is the one needed for SSH
version 2 authentication. For instructions on how to associate this key
with a user, see Using Public Key Authentication.
The ThinLinc client requires no special configuration to use the smart card.
The client is able to automatically connect to the server when a smart card is inserted (see Security tab). It does, however, require that the user is able to log in using the subject name on the card. As that is rarely a valid user name, ThinLinc ships with a special NSS module, called nss-passwdaliases, that enables alternate names for users.
The module is configured by editing the file
The file is a colon-delimited table of alternate names and their
corresponding user ids. Example:
To activate the nss-passwdaliases module, it must be added to the list
of NSS modules for the passwd database. This is specified in the
/etc/nsswitch.conf. For example, replace the following
passwd: files ldap
with this line:
passwd: files ldap passwdaliases
LDAP Automatic Update (tl-ldap-certalias)¶
ThinLinc includes the tool tl-ldap-certalias that can automatically update the local databases needed for smart card public key authentication, provided the system uses the OpenSSH server (or any SSH server that uses a compatible format and location for authorized public keys) and standards compliant LDAP servers where users and certificates are stored.
For details about using this command, see the full documentation for tl-ldap-certalias.