Kerberos on Mac OS

Kerberos on MacOS

Kerberos tickets can provide authentication to a number of services, such as CSAIL OIDC, SSH, AFS, SAPGui, and others.

Configuring Kerberos

Kerberos support is already part of the base OS X system. You only need a single CSAIL-specific configuration file.

If the computer is set up for ATHENA Kerberos, you still need to follow these instructions, which will allow you access to both Kerberos realms (CSAIL and ATHENA.MIT.EDU).

  1. Download the CSAIL version of
  2. In Finder, drag it to Macintosh HD Library Preferences and Authenticate when prompted.

Logging into Kerberos (aka Obtaining Kerberos tickets)

Use one of the following methods:


In Terminal, enter kinit (long form: kinit yourusername@CSAIL.MIT.EDU); klist shows all kerberos tickets you have (klist -f shows their flags).

Ticket Viewer

  1. You will probably want to make a shortcut on your Dock for the Ticket Viewer, which is located at /System/Library/CoreServices/Ticket or /System/Library/CoreServices/Applications/Ticket

As long as you leave this application running, it will continuously renew your Kerberos credentials until the end of their maximum renew-time.

  1. Launch Ticket from your dock.
    • If it is your first time obtaining a ticket, click Add Identity
    • enter yourusername@CSAIL.MIT.EDU (case sensitive) and your CSAIL Kerberos password
    • On subsequent uses, you can simply click the renew button

Known issues

  1. Ticket Viewer gives “Unable to read user preferences”, or kinit returns only “Usage: kinit [-V] …”
    • Cause: was not correctly saved to /Library/Preferences/.
    • Solution: Make sure no “.txt” extension is present (eg, with File/Get Info)
  2. Kerberos tickets don’t allow ssh login, and klist -f displays only RIA flags (not Forwardable or Proxiable)
    • Cause: incorrect values were cached to /Users/$YOU/Library/Preferences/
    • Solution: Delete this file and it will be re-created properly.