A credential cache (or "ccache") holds Kerberos credentials while they
remain valid and, generally, while the user's session lasts, so that
authenticating to a service multiple times (e.g., connecting to a web
or mail server more than once) doesn't require contacting the KDC
A credential cache usually contains one initial ticket which is
obtained using a password or another form of identity verification.
If this ticket is a ticket-granting ticket, it can be used to obtain
additional credentials without the password. Because the credential
cache does not store the password, less long-term damage can be done
to the user's account if the machine is compromised.
A credentials cache stores a default client principal name, set when
the cache is created. This is the name shown at the top of the
:ref:`klist(1)` *-A* output.
Each normal cache entry includes a service principal name, a client
principal name (which, in some ccache types, need not be the same as
the default), lifetime information, and flags, along with the
credential itself. There are also other entries, indicated by special
names, that store additional information.
The credential cache interface, like the :ref:`keytab_definition` and
:ref:`rcache_definition` interfaces, uses `TYPE:value` strings to
indicate the type of credential cache and any associated cache naming
data to use.
There are several kinds of credentials cache supported in the MIT
Kerberos library. Not all are supported on every platform. In most
cases, it should be correct to use the default type built into the
#. **API** is only implemented on Windows. It communicates with a
server process that holds the credentials in memory for the user,
rather than writing them to disk.
#. **DIR** points to the storage location of the collection of the
credential caches in *FILE:* format. It is most useful when dealing
with multiple Kerberos realms and KDCs. For release 1.10 the
directory must already exist. In post-1.10 releases the
requirement is for parent directory to exist and the current
process must have permissions to create the directory if it does
not exist. See :ref:`col_ccache` for details. New in release 1.10.
The following residual forms are supported:
* DIR::dirpath/filename - a single cache within the directory
Switching to a ccache of the latter type causes it to become the
primary for the directory.
#. **FILE** caches are the simplest and most portable. A simple flat
file format is used to store one credential after another. This is
the default ccache type if no type is specified in a ccache name.
#. **KCM** caches work by contacting a daemon process called ``kcm``
to perform cache operations. If the cache name is just ``KCM:``,
the default cache as determined by the KCM daemon will be used.
Newly created caches must generally be named ``KCM:uid:name``,
where *uid* is the effective user ID of the running process.
KCM client support is new in release 1.13. A KCM daemon has not
yet been implemented in MIT krb5, but the client will interoperate
with the KCM daemon implemented by Heimdal. macOS 10.7 and higher
provides a KCM daemon as part of the operating system, and the
**KCM** cache type is used as the default cache on that platform in
a default build.
#. **KEYRING** is Linux-specific, and uses the kernel keyring support
to store credential data in unswappable kernel memory where only
the current user should be able to access it. The following
residual forms are supported:
* KEYRING:process:name - process keyring
* KEYRING:thread:name - thread keyring
Starting with release 1.12 the *KEYRING* type supports collections.
The following new residual forms were added:
* KEYRING:session:name - session keyring
* KEYRING:user:name - user keyring
* KEYRING:persistent:uidnumber - persistent per-UID collection.
Unlike the user keyring, this collection survives after the user
logs out, until the cache credentials expire. This type of
ccache requires support from the kernel; otherwise, it will fall
back to the user keyring.
See :ref:`col_ccache` for details.
#. **MEMORY** caches are for storage of credentials that don't need to
be made available outside of the current process. For example, a
memory ccache is used by :ref:`kadmin(1)` to store the
administrative ticket used to contact the admin server. Memory
ccaches are faster than file ccaches and are automatically
destroyed when the process exits.
#. **MSLSA** is a Windows-specific cache type that accesses the
Windows credential store.
Collections of caches
Some credential cache types can support collections of multiple
caches. One of the caches in the collection is designated as the
*primary* and will be used when the collection is resolved as a cache.
When a collection-enabled cache type is the default cache for a
process, applications can search the specified collection for a
specific client principal, and GSSAPI applications will automatically
select between the caches in the collection based on criteria such as
the target service realm.
Credential cache collections are new in release 1.10, with support
from the **DIR** and **API** ccache types. Starting in release 1.12,
collections are also supported by the **KEYRING** ccache type.
Collections are supported by the **KCM** ccache type in release 1.13.
Tool alterations to use cache collection
* :ref:`kdestroy(1)` *-A* will destroy all caches in the collection.
* If the default cache type supports switching, :ref:`kinit(1)`
*princname* will search the collection for a matching cache and
store credentials there, or will store credentials in a new unique
cache of the default type if no existing cache for the principal
exists. Either way, kinit will switch to the selected cache.
* :ref:`klist(1)` *-l* will list the caches in the collection.
* :ref:`klist(1)` *-A* will show the content of all caches in the
* :ref:`kswitch(1)` *-p princname* will search the collection for a
matching cache and switch to it.
* :ref:`kswitch(1)` *-c cachename* will switch to a specified cache.
Default ccache name
The default credential cache name is determined by the following, in
descending order of priority:
#. The **KRB5CCNAME** environment variable. For example,
#. The **default_ccache_name** profile variable in :ref:`libdefaults`.
#. The hardcoded default, |ccache|.