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Pinniped v0.11.0: Easy Configurations for Active Directory, OIDC CLI workflows and more

Anjali Telang

Aug 31, 2021

sunbathing seal Photo by Eelco van der Wal on Unsplash

CRDs for easy Active Directory Configuration!

Microsoft Active Directory (AD) is one of the most popular and widely used Identity Providers. Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) is the foundation of every Windows domain network. It stores information about members of the domain, including devices and users, verifies their credentials and defines their access rights. While AD is widely used in legacy systems, configuring Active Directory has been somewhat of a challenge in the cloud native environments.

In our previous post on LDAP, we mentioned that the reason to support LDAP and AD was primarily to help the cluster administrator easily manage and configure these Identity Providers using Kubernetes APIs. Some of the available identity shims, such as Dex and UAA, can be used between Pinniped and the Identity providers, but they are difficult to configure and the cluster administration may not be able to manage their Day 2 operations using Kubernetes APIs.

Our initial LDAP implementation released with v.10.0 can be used to work with any LDAP based Identity Provider including Active Directory, but with this release we provide APIs that are specifically tailored to the Active Directory configuration.

Setup and Use AD with your Supervisor

Pinniped Supervisor authenticates your users with the AD provider via the LDAP protocol, and then issues unique, short-lived, per-cluster tokens. Our previous blog post on LDAP configuration, elaborates on the security considerations to support integration at the Pinniped Supervisor level instead of at the Concierge.

To setup the AD configuration, once you have Supervisor configured with ingress installed the Pinniped Supervisor and you have configured a FederationDomain to issue tokens for your downstream clusters, you can create an ActiveDirectoryIdentityProvider in the same namespace as the Supervisor. Here’s what an example configuration looks like

 kind: ActiveDirectoryIdentityProvider
   name: my-active-directory-idp
   namespace: pinniped-supervisor

   # Specify the host of the Active Directory server.
   host: ""

   # Specify the name of the Kubernetes Secret that contains your Active Directory
   # bind account credentials. This service account will be used by the
   # Supervisor to perform LDAP user and group searches.
     secretName: "active-directory-bind-account"


 apiVersion: v1
 kind: Secret
   name: active-directory-bind-account
   namespace: pinniped-supervisor

   # The dn (distinguished name) of your Active Directory bind account.
   username: "CN=Bind User,OU=Users,DC=activedirectory,DC=example,dc=com"

   # The password of your Active Directory bind account.
   password: "YOUR_PASSWORD"

You can also customize the userSearch and groupSearch as shown in the examples in our reference documentation here

In the above example, users will be able to login with either their sAMAccountName (i.e. pinny), userPrincipalName (i.e. or mail attribute. This reduces the need to tell users what specific value from AD must be provided in the username field. Regardless of what value the user provides in the username field, the userPrincipalName will be used as the identity in Kubernetes clusters. UPN is used as the username attribute by default as it is unique within an AD forest. Similarly, a UPN is generated for each group using its sAMAccountName attribute and the AD domain hostname. The default AD configuration finds both direct and nested groups.

After logging in, running the pinniped whoami command displays:

Current cluster info:

Name: cluster-name

Current user info:

Groups:, Marine, system:authenticated

OIDC CLI-based workflows

In v0.10.0 we included support for Non-Interactive Password based LDAP logins to support CI/CD workflows. In this release, we extend the same capabilities to OIDC logins by using OIDC Password Grant. If the OIDC provider server supports the OAuth 2.0 resource owner password credentials grant, then you may optionally choose to configure allowPasswordGrant to true to allow clients to perform this type of authentication. Clients will be prompted for their username and password on the command-line without opening a browser window. It is important to note that Resource Owner Password Credentials Grant from OAuth 2.0 is generally considered unsafe and should only be used when there is a trust relationship between the client and resource owner as it exposes client credentials to the resource owner. Refer to Security Best practices here However, it could be useful for use cases, such as for CI/CD where you may be authenticating to the Kubernetes cluster using an OIDC service account.

How this works with Pinniped

A few considerations while configuring this on the cluster:

Confirm that Multi-factor authentication is not intended to be used on the cluster Pinniped CLI running on your workstation and the Pinniped Supervisor backend are trusted to handle your password

With the new functionality, Users initiate pinniped get kubeconfig with a new argument --upstream-identity-provider-flow="cli_password" to indicate their intent to use Password grant auth flow for logging into the upstream OIDC provider. By default, if no argument is specified this will follow the Browser-based auth flow. This way older Pinniped CLI versions will default to using Browser-based auth and the default for older Supervisor versions with newer CLI versions will also be Browser-based authentication.

Distroless-based container images

In this release, we are moving our base container images from Debian to Distroless as it not only increases performance by providing much smaller sized images, but enhances security by removing dependencies on system libraries that may have vulnerabilities.

Refer to the release notes for v0.11.0 for a complete list of fixes and features included in the release.

Tell us about your configuration and use cases!

We invite your suggestions and contributions to make Pinniped work for your configuration and use cases.

The Pinniped community is a vital part of the project’s success. This release includes important feedback from community user Scott Rosenberg who helped us better understand Active Directory configurations and provided valuable feedback for the OIDC Password Grant feature. Thank you for helping improve Pinniped!

We thrive on community feedback. Are you using Pinniped?
Did you try our new LDAP or AD features? What other configurations do you need for authenticating users to your Kubernetes clusters?

Find us in #pinniped on Kubernetes Slack, create an issue on our Github repository, or start a Discussion.

Join the Pinniped community!

Pinniped is better because of our contributors and maintainers. It's because of you that we can bring great software to the community.

Connect with the community on GitHub and Slack.

Join our Google Group to receive updates and meeting invitations.

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