Grid authentication

This section explains the concepts and operations regarding Grid authentication mechanisms:

Introduction: delegation of authentication

Grid, by its very nature, is decentralized. This means that users must authenticate themselves to the Grid services they want to use. This is accomplished by means of a personal certificate and accompanying private key that every Grid user must have. The combinbation of a certificate and private key uniquely identifies a user. Therefore, you should never share your private key with anyone else or with any service. At the same time your jobs will typically run on systems you may not trust. However, to be able to use those systems you must identify yourself with those systems. This is where delegation comes in: identifying yourself with a system you don’t trust by creating a new certificate/private key pair, called a proxy, with a limited validity. This chapter describes how you can delegate your credentials.

The easiest way is to use a Grid session, which does everything for you in one go.

Starting a Grid session

The easiest way to start a session on the Grid is to use the startGridSession <VO Name> command (see also here) on a user interface (UI) machine.

The startGridSession command:

  • generates a local proxy of your certificate and private key;
  • delegates this local proxy to the Myproxy server;
  • delegates this local proxy to the WMS with your user name as the delegation ID (DID).

Your jobs will now be able to run for week. The WMS that is responsible for scheduling your jobs, will renew the proxy certificate of running jobs every 12 hours automatically, for one week. This means that your jobs must finish within a week from starting the Grid session . However, running the command again will extend your jobs with a week of run time.


Every time you submit the startGridSession command it renews your Grid session for an additional week.

Instead of startGridSession, you can run the following three commands separately with the same results:

# 1. VOMS server: create a voms proxy with voms extensions that enables you to access the Grid for *12 hours*.
voms-proxy-init --voms lsgrid  #replace lsgrid with your VO

# 2. MyProxy server: store a *week* long proxy certificate in the Myproxy server; useful for jobs that are
# running for more than 12 hours.
myproxy-init -d -n

# 3. WMS: delegate your credentials to the Workload Management System.
glite-wms-job-delegate-proxy -d $USER

The next section explains the startGridSession operations step-by-step. See also startGridSession -h.

Using VOMS proxies

In order to use the Grid facilities, you have to create a proxy. A proxy is a short-lived certificate/private key combination which is used to perform actions on the Grid on your behalf without using passwords. You can read more in this paper from Globus Alliance Members. Proxies contain both a certificate and private key and, therefore, should never leave the system. Instead, proxies are delegated to other systems: a new proxy is created on a remote system using the local proxy as authentication. Services that have been provided with a delegation of your proxy can act on your behalf. The proxy file on the UI is owned by you and placed in the /tmp directory. You only deal with this file directly in exceptional cases.

Creating a VOMS proxy

Make sure you have installed your certificate and private on the Grid user interface that you are working on. They should be placed in the .globus directory under your home directory and should be named usercert.pem and userkey.pem. They must have the following ownerships and permissions:

$ls -l $HOME/.globus/usercert.pem
-rw-r--r-- 1 homer homer 1956 Nov 16 12:20 /home/homer/.globus/usercert.pem

$ls -l $HOME/.globus/userkey.pem
-r-------- 1 homer homer 1956 Nov 16 12:20 /home/homer/.globus/usercert.pem

where homer should be replaced with your username.

Now issue the following command to create a local proxy. The pass phrase you are asked for, is your Grid certificate password:

$voms-proxy-init --voms lsgrid

You will see the following output in your terminal:

Enter GRID pass phrase for this identity:
Contacting  [/O=dutchgrid/O=hosts/] "lsgrid"...
Remote VOMS server contacted successfully.
Created proxy in /tmp/x509up_u39111.
Your proxy is valid until Thu Jan 05 02:07:29 CET 2016

This proxy is your “username” for the Grid. The last line in the example shows the expiration time of the proxy.

Non standard location

To store your local proxy in a non standard location, use the -out option:

$voms-proxy-init -voms lsgrid --valid 168:00 -out /home/homer/my_proxy_cert

See voms-proxy-init -h for more options.

Inspecting your proxy certificate

You can inspect your local proxy with the command:

$voms-proxy-info -all

Here is an example:

subject   : /O=dutchgrid/O=users/O=sara/CN=Homer Simpson/CN=proxy
issuer    : /O=dutchgrid/O=users/O=sara/CN=Homer Simpson
identity  : /O=dutchgrid/O=users/O=sara/CN=Homer Simpson
type      : full legacy globus proxy
strength  : 1024
path      : /tmp/x509up_u39111
timeleft  : 11:48:24
key usage : Digital Signature, Key Encipherment, Data Encipherment
=== VO lsgrid extension information ===
VO        : lsgrid
subject   : /O=dutchgrid/O=users/O=sara/CN=Homer Simpson
issuer    : /O=dutchgrid/O=hosts/
attribute : /lsgrid/Role=NULL/Capability=NULL
attribute : /lsgrid/SARA/Role=NULL/Capability=NULL
timeleft  : 11:48:24

You can see that a proxy certificate has a limited lifetime and is stored in the /tmp directory. VO extension information is also shown and is used to verify if you are indeed a member of this VO and group: A Grid service that has been provided with a delegation of your proxy can contact the VOMS service for membership information and subsequently grant or deny you access.


In the next step, you will delegate your proxy certificate to the proxy server and there it will be valid by default for a week. So it will be possible for long running jobs and jobs that started running only after a few days to continue to run. However, the proxy certificate that you use locally is only valid for 12 hours. So remember that after 12 hours you have to create a new proxy certificate to interact with the Grid (and your long running jobs).

Using the MyProxy server

The following command stores a proxy certificate in the proxy server where it will issue new proxy certificates on your behalf for a week. This is necessary for jobs that need more than 12 hours to run.

Issue this command on the UI:

$myproxy-init -d -n

You should get something like this:

Your identity: /O=dutchgrid/O=users/O=sara/CN=Homer Simpson
Enter GRID pass phrase for this identity:
Creating proxy ................................................. Done
Proxy Verify OK
Your proxy is valid until: Wed Jan 13 14:25:06 2016
A proxy valid for 168 hours (7.0 days) for user /O=dutchgrid/O=users/O=sara/CN=Homer Simpson now exists on

The delegated proxy can be received locally from other authorized Grid machines.

Inspecting the myproxy certificate

You can inspect the the myproxy certificate with the command:

$myproxy-info -d

Here is an example of the displayed output:

username: /O=dutchgrid/O=users/O=sara/CN=Homer Simpson
owner: /O=dutchgrid/O=users/O=sara/CN=Homer Simpson
timeleft: 167:56:36  (7.0 days)

Credential delegation

This section explains the usage of the command glite-wms-job-delegate-proxy, which is also executed when running the startGridSession.

When you submit a job to the Grid it will be sent to the Workload Management System (WMS). This system will then schedule your job and send it to a worker node somewhere on the Grid. The job will be run on your behalf, therefore, you should delegate your credentials to the WMS Workload Management System.

Credential delegation solves the following problem: when the Grid is busy or when you submit a large number of jobs, it can take more then the standard 12 hours for the jobs to start than your local proxy certificate is valid. The solution is to use proxy delegation before submitting jobs.

We assume that you have issued the voms-proxy-init command and have a valid local proxy. If not, please see voms-proxy-init command.

To delegate your proxy to the WMS, run on the UI:

$echo $USER
$glite-wms-job-delegate-proxy -d $USER  # the $USER is the delegation id

The variable $USER is the delegation id (in this case your login name from the system). This string is needed in other commands to identify your session. In general, you can use any string you like after the -d option.

Instead of creating a delegation ID with -d, the -a option can be used. This causes a delegated proxy to be established automatically. In this case you do not need to remember a delegation identifier. However, repeated use of this option is not recommended, since it delegates a new proxy each time the commands are issued. Delegation is a time-consuming operation, so it’s better to use the -d $USER when submitting a large number of jobs one after the other.

Here is an example of the displayed output:

Connecting to the service
================== glite-wms-job-delegate-proxy Success ==================

Your proxy has been successfully delegated to the WMProxy(s):
with the delegation identifier: homer


Commands for viewing your proxy information

  • To start your Grid session:

    $startGridSession lsgrid  # replace lsgrid with your VO
  • To see how much time there is left on your Grid session:

    $myproxy-info -d
  • To renew your Grid session:

    $startGridSession lsgrid  #replace lsgrid with your VO
  • To end your session:

    $myproxy-destroy -d
  • To remove your local /tmp/x509up_uXXX proxy:



myproxy-destroy will not terminate any job. Jobs will continue to run and will fail when the the proxy certificate that was used at the time of submission, expires. Use glite-wms-job-cancel to cancel running jobs.