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Docker Authorization Plugin based on Casbin

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Docker RBAC & ABAC Authorization Plugin based on Casbin Go Report Card Build Status GoDoc

TAKE NOTE: the instructions below is valid only for LINUX Host OS

This plugin controls the access to Docker commands based on authorization policy. The functionality of authorization is provided by Casbin. Since Docker doesn't perform authentication by now, there's no user information when executing Docker commands. The access that Casbin plugin can control is actually what HTTP method can be performed on what URL path.

For example, when you run

docker images
command, the underlying request is really like:
/v1.27/images/json, GET

So Casbin plugin helps you decide whether

can be performed on
base on the policy rules you write. The policy file is
co-located with the plugin binary by default. And its content is:
p, /v1.27/images/json, GET

The above policy grants anyone to perform

, and deny all other requests. The response should be like below:
$ docker images
REPOSITORY          TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
hello-world         latest              48b5124b2768        3 months ago        1.84 kB

$ docker info Error response from daemon: authorization denied by plugin casbin-authz-plugin: Access denied by casbin plugin

The built-in Casbin model is:

r = obj, act

[policy_definition] p = obj, act

[policy_effect] e = some(where (p.eft == allow))

[matchers] m = r.obj == p.obj && r.act == p.act

The built-in Casbin policy is:

p, /_ping, GET
p, /v1.27/images/json, GET

For more information about the Casbin model and policy usage like RBAC, ABAC, please refer to:

For "non-golang developer" users

$ apt install golang-go  # install go language
$ mkdir /usr/local/go
$ export GOPATH=/usr/local/go
  • The installation command above is for Ubuntu, other distros may have different commands for installing go
  • The export can be changed according to your satisfaction


$ go get
$ cd $GOPATH/src/
$ make
$ sudo make install


Run the plugin directly in a shell

$ cd /usr/lib/docker
$ mkdir examples
$ cp basic_model.conf examples/.
$ cp basic_policy.csv examples/.
$ ./casbin-authz-plugin

Below should be an example of display when command above is run:

2017/10/21 03:47:39 Current directory: /usr/lib/docker
2017/10/21 03:47:39 Casbin model: examples/basic_model.conf
2017/10/21 03:47:39 Casbin policy: examples/basic_policy.csv
2017/10/21 03:47:39 [Model:]
2017/10/21 03:47:39 p.p: obj, act
2017/10/21 03:47:39 e.e: some(where (p_eft == allow))
2017/10/21 03:47:39 m.m: r_obj == p_obj && r_act == p_act
2017/10/21 03:47:39 r.r: obj, act
2017/10/21 03:47:39 [Policy:]
2017/10/21 03:47:39 [p :  obj, act :  [[/_ping GET] [/v1.27/images/json GET]]]

Enable the authorization plugin on docker engine

Step-1: Determine where the systemd service of the plugin is located

$ systemctl status casbin-authz-plugin

● casbin-authz-plugin.service - Docker RBAC & ABAC Authorization Plugin based on Casbin Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/casbin-authz-plugin.service; disabled; vendor preset: enabled) Active: inactive (dead)

  • You can see the directory on the Loaded label

Step-2: Add the WorkingDirectory of th plugin's systemd service

$ vi /lib/systemd/system/casbin-authz-plugin.service

[Service] WorkingDirectory=/usr/lib/docker

  • If the service directory above is different than the one that returned from the
    systemctl status casbin-authz-plugin
    , please use the latter
  • The
    may not be the one given depending on where you put the plugin

Step-3: Run the plugin as a systemd service

$ systemctl daemon-reload
$ systemctl enable casbin-authz-plugin
$ systemctl start casbin-authz-plugin

Step-4: Edit the Execstart of th plugin's systemd service

$ systemctl edit docker

[Service] ExecStart= ExecStart=/usr/bin/dockerd --authorization-plugin=casbin-authz-plugin

  • If the service directory above is different than the one that returned from the
    systemctl status docker
    , please use the latter
  • Just add
    if there are more options on the pre-defined
    please retain them

Step-5: Restart docker engine

$ systemctl daemon-reload
$ systemctl restart docker

Step-6 Activate the plugin logs:

$ journalctl -xe -u casbin-authz-plugin -f

STEP-7 Do a quick test

$ docker images
  • if
    docker images
    is denied, simply proceed to Step-8 for the solution

Step-8 Changing the policy

$ vi /usr/lib/docker/examples/basic_policy.csv

p, /v1.29/images/json, GET

$ systemctl restart casbin-authz-plugin

  • take note that versioning is also included on the authorization. The given policy states /v1.27/. So edit the version in
    that the docker client is throwing which is shown in
    obj: /v1.29/images/json, act: GET res: denied
  • you can change the
    to the directory where you put the plugin from
    go get
  • Check the logs for more confirmation

Step-9 Test again:

$ docker images
$ docker ps
$ docker info
  • If
    docker images
    is still denied please check STEP-8 more carefully
  • These should smoothly enable

Stop and uninstall the plugin as a systemd service

NOTE: Before doing below, remove the authorization-plugin configuration added above and restart the docker daemon.

Removing the authorization plugin on docker

$ systemctl edit docker

#[Service] #ExecStart= #ExecStart=/usr/bin/dockerd --authorization-plugin=casbin-authz-plugin

$ systemctl restart docker

Stop the plugin service:

$ systemctl stop casbin-authz-plugin
$ systemctl disable casbin-authz-plugin

Uninstall the plugin service:

$ cd $GOPATH/src/
$ make uninstall


If you have any issues or feature requests, please feel free to contact me at: - - [email protected]


Apache 2.0

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