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Nginx module to use SPNEGO+GSSAPI+Kerberos for HTTP authentication

This module implements Kerberos authentication through GSSAPI for nginx. It currently DOES NOT support NTLMSSP.


Please note that Kerberos Authentication over a GSS-enabled HTTP virtual host works only if the following conditions are met:

  • The client machine is joined to a Windows 2003 or greater domain
  • The user is logged on to the domain
  • The GSS-enabled virtual host is HTTPS
  • The GSS-enabled virtual host name falls under the Intranet or Trusted sites IE security zone
  • The GSS-enabled virtual host name exists in the DNS as an A record
  • You have created the correct Service Principal Names (SPNs) in Active Directory, mapped to a service account

Authentication has been tested with (at least) the following:

  • Nginx 1.2.6
  • Internet Explorer 8.0.7600.16385
  • Firefox 10.0.6
  • Chrome 20.0.1132.57
  • Curl 7.19.5 (GSS-Negotiate), 7.27.0 (SPNEGO/fbopenssl)

The underlying kerberos library used for these tests was MIT KRB5 v1.8.


Download nginx source and this module zipball.

Follow the nginx install documentation, extract this module zipball and pass an --add-module option to nginx' configure:

./configure --add-module=spnego-http-auth-nginx-module-master

We've also made available a pre-built nginx-spnego package for OpenSuSE.


The module prints all sort of debugging information if nginx is compiled with the --with-debug option, and the error_log directive has a debug level.

Look for the my_gss_name in the log to ensure it is correct, and look for the output of the gss_acquire_cred return value first. If it passes, then your keytabs configuration is correct.

Then, look for the gss_accept_sec_context log: if the "input token" is NTLMSSP means that the browser has sent an NTLM hash, that is not currently supported by this module.

A great improvement would be to port over the mod_auth_ntlm_winbind using Samba's auth_ntlm helper over to nginx. If you can do that, please do :-). We'll work on it in the future anyway.

Configuration reference

You can configure GSS authentication on a per-location basis:

  • auth_gss: on/off, for ease of unsecuring while leaving other options in the config file
  • auth_gss_realm: Kerberos realm name
  • auth_gss_keytab: absolute path-name to keytab file containing service credentials
  • auth_gss_service_name: service principal name to use when acquiring credentials.

These directives are for now they location specific - there is currently no way to specify main or per server defaults, improvements are more than welcome.


  • Add support for NTLMSSP
  • Fix memory leaks
  • Security auditing
  • More useful logging


Michael Shadle paid YoctoPetaBorg from RentACoder to develop this extension as ngx_http_auth_sso_module. Michael then renamed it to ngx_http_auth_spnego_module. This initial module provided spnego support using Microsoft's sample spnegohelp files. Since then, SPNEGO support has made its way into various GSS/Kerberos libraries.

Various other people have contributed minor patches to make the extension work in their environments.


The initial codebase was a fork of Apache's mod_auth_gss_krb5 0.0.5 ported to nginx.


SPNEGO HTTP Authentication Module for nginx




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