Password handling through remote SSH session

Simon McVittie smcv at
Wed Aug 14 18:49:52 UTC 2019

On Wed, 14 Aug 2019 at 12:05:41 -0600, Gabe Alford wrote:
> I have a QT application that logs into a remote machine through SSH. I plan on
> using polkit in some way for privileged access to admin commands that are not
> services. I want to be able to handle both password-less and password
> authentication in polkit. What's the best way of handling a password prompt
> remotely with polkit?

The app will need to run a polkit agent at the remote end so that it can
answer polkit requests. Polkit agents are implemented using the
polkit-agent-1 library.

Normally, a polkit agent is a GUI thing, and typically each
desktop environment has one; when asked for a password, it asks
the user for a password, waits for their response, and sends the
password as a response to the request. There's a simple agent,
pkttyagent(1), in the polkit source code: it uses the tty instead of a
GUI. is one implementation in Qt.

In your case, instead of asking the user, the polkit agent will have
to ask your Qt application (perhaps via a Unix socket forwarded through
the ssh connection), which can do whatever it wants to do (perhaps asking
the GUI user) and send back an appropriate password.


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