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Kerberos for Node.js

krb5 is a Node.js native binding for Kerberos. It is a Node.js implementation of Kerberos client tools:

  • kinit (keytab, or password): retrieve initial credentials;
  • kdestroy: destroy a credential cache;
  • spnego: generate a SPNEGO token.

It uses the MIT Kerberos native library.
SPNEGO is a GSS mechanism to authenticate through HTTP requests.


To build this module, you need MIT Kerberos library. Refer to the section corresponding to your operating system:

  • Archlinux
    pacman -S krb5
    npm install krb5
  • RHEL/Centos
    yum install -y krb5-devel
    npm install krb5
  • Ubuntu
    apt-get install -y libkrb5-dev
    npm install krb5
  • MacOS
    brew install krb5
    npm install krb5
  • Windows
    choco install mitkerberos --install-arguments="ADDLOCAL=all"
    npm install krb5

Python >=3.6 must be available in your path. You can check it by running python --version. It should display something like "Python 3.6.15". If not, you must ensure that python 3 is used, for by placing back the original path: PATH="/usr/bin:$PATH" npm install.


To compile this library on windows, you need a complete visual studio compile chain, please refer to the node-gyp instructions. If you have a 32 bit OS, please delete binding.gyp and rename _binding32.gyp before install.

To install the kerberos headers needed for the build, you need to tick the "SDK" options. It is disabled by default.


Install curl for z/OS and gzip for z/OS, then follow the instruction here.

Manual compilation of MIT Kerberos

Follow these instructions if you wish to manually install MIT Kerberos (in case your distribution packet manager does not have a corresponding package for example).

tar -xzf krb5-1.16.1.tar.gz 
cd krb5-1.16.1/src
sudo make install

The latest version downloaded with wget can be found here.

Compiling from the source of MIT Kerberos requires python3, make, gcc (g++), bison.

If you want to install MIT Kerberos in another directory (default is "/usr/local"), specify a --prefix option to ./configure.

If kerberos is installed in a directory not included in include and/or library path (if you have manually compiled kerberos in a specific directory for example), please modify the binding.gyp present in the package root folder with the following properties:

  'targets': [{
    'target_name': 'krb5',
    'include_dirs': [
    'libraries': [

or you can specify the following environment variables to npm install command:

export CPLUS_INCLUDE_PATH="/path/to/kerberos/include"
export LIBRARY_PATH="/path/to/kerberos/lib"

Install node-krb5 on z/OS

  1. run the following command to install krb5 libraries for z/OS (it requires curl for z/OS and gzip for z/OS)
_ENCODE_FILE_NEW=BINARY curl --output v1.16.3-zos.tar.gz
gzip -d v1.16.3-zos.tar.gz
tar -xfUXo v1.16.3-zos.tar
chtag -tc 819 -R ./libkrb5-zos-1.16.3-zos
chtag -b -R ./libkrb5-zos-1.16.3-zos/lib
  1. set the following environment variable
export KRB5_HOME=/path/to/libkrb5-zos-1.16.3-zos
  1. npm install node-krb5

Remember to specify your krb5.conf:

export KRB5_CONFIG=/path/to/krb5.conf


Quick example

  • Retrieve a SPNEGO token for a service

In this example we want to retrieve a token to access a REST API of the service HBase, located on the host m01.krb.local .

// Get the initial credentials using a keytab
  principal: 'hbase/m01.krb.local',
  keytab: '/tmp/hbase.service.keytab',
  realm: 'KRB.LOCAL',
}, function (err, ccname) {
  if (err) {
  } else {
    console.log('Credentials saved in', ccname)
    // Get the SPNEGO token
      service_fqdn: 'm01.krb.local'
    }, function (err, token) {
      if (err) {
      } else {
        console.log('SPNEGO token :', token)

You can also use promises.

  principal: 'hbase/m01.krb.local',
  keytab: '/tmp/hbase.service.keytab',
  realm: 'KRB.LOCAL',
}).then(function (ccname) {
  console.log('Credentials saved in', ccname)
  return krb5.spnego({
    hostbased_service: 'HTTP@m01.krb.local'
}).then(function (token) {
  console.log('SPNEGO token :', token)
}).catch(function (err) {

For more examples, see the samples and test directories.


kinit(options, callback)

Retrieve initial credentials (Ticket Granting Ticket)


  • principal
    Kerberos principal username@REALM or username. If realm is given, overrides the realm option.
  • password / keytab
    One of both should be given for authentication.
  • realm (optionnal)
    Kerberos realm (usually capitalized domain name). If this is not specified, use the default realm from /etc/krb5.conf.
  • ccname (optionnal)
    Credential cache location. If this is not specified, default path is taken from environment variable KRB5CCNAME, then from /etc/krb5.conf.

Callback parameters:

  • err
    Should be undefined. Otherwise it contains an error message.
  • ccname
    Credential path location used to store initial credentials.

spnego(options, callback)

Retrieve a SPNEGO token.

In order to retrieve a SPNEGO token to access a service, you first need an initial ticket (TGT) which you can get with kinit.


  • hostbased_service or service_fqdn
    Hostbased service should be of the form service@fqdn. If you only pass the fully qualified domain name fqdn, it will default to HTTP@fqdn.
    It will be resolved to the corresponding principal service/fqdn@REALM by the GSS-API. To use the principal directly, use the service_principal option instead.
  • service_principal
    Principal of the service.
  • ccname (optionnal)
    Location of the credential cache storing the initial ticket. If not specified, default path is taken.

Callback parameters:

  • err
    Should be undefined. Otherwise contains GSS API major error code.
  • token
    The SPNEGO token to access the service. It can then be added to the header of the HTTP request Authorization: Negociate {token}.

kdestroy (options, callback) : destroys credential cache


  • ccname (optionnal)
    Credential cache location. If this is not specified, default path is taken from environment variable KRB5CCNAME, then from /etc/krb5.conf.

Callback parameters:

  • err
    Should be undefined. Otherwise it contains an error message.

Run the tests

To run the tests in a container:

cd docker && ./run_tests $os

Available $os: archlinux / ubuntu / centos7

To test this module locally, run the KDC and REST dockers, and use the corresponding krb5.conf (bcakup your own if you need it later):

cd docker
docker-compose up -d kerberos
docker-compose up -d rest
sudo mv /etc/krb5.conf /etc/krb5.conf.backup
sudo cp /tmp/krb5_test/krb5.conf /etc/krb5.conf
sudo npm test


npm i krb5

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