Clixon implements the Network Configuration Access Control Model (NACM / RFC8341). NACM rpc and datanode access validation is supported, not outgoing notifications.

NACM rules apply to all datastores.


Access notification authorization (Sec 3.4.6) is NOT implemented.

Data-node paths, eg <rule>...<path>ex:table/ex:parameter</path></rule> instance-identifiers are restricted to canonical namespace identifiers for both XML and JSON encoding. That is, if a symbol (such as table above) is a symbol in a module with prefix ex, another prefix cannot be used, even though defined with a xmlns rule.

Config options

The following configuration options are related to NACM:

NACM mode is either: disabled, internal, or external. Default: disabled.
If NACM mode is external, this file contains the NACM config.
Verify NACM user credentials with unix socket peer credentials. This means that a NACM user must match a UNIX user accessing CLIXON_SOCK. Credentials are either: none, exact or except. Default: except.
RFC8341 defines a ‘recovery session’ as outside its scope. Clixon defines this user as having special admin rights to exempt from all access control enforcements.
RFC 8341 defines enable-nacm as true by default. Since also write-default is deny by default it leads to that empty configs can not be edited. Default: false.


NACM rules are either internal or external. If external, rules are loaded from a separate file, specified by the option CLICON_NACM_FILE.

If the NACM mode is internal, the NACM configuration is a part of the regular candidate/running datastore. NACM rules are read from the running datastore, ie they need to be committed.

Since NACM rules are part of the config itself it means that there may be bootstrapping issues. In particular, NACM default is enabled with read/exec permit, and write deny. Loading an empty config therefore leads to a “deadlock” where no user can edit the datastore.

Work-arounds include restarting the backend with a NACM config in the startup db, or using a recovery user.

Access control

NACM is implemented in the Clixon backend at:

  • Incoming RPC (module-name/protocol-operation)
  • Before modifying the data store (data create/delete/update)
  • After retrieving data (data read)

User credentials

Access control relies on a user and groups. When an internal Clixon client communicates with the backend, it piggybacks the name of the user in the request, See Internal netconf username:

<rpc username="myuser"><get-config><source><running/></source></get-config></rpc>

The authentication of the username needs to be done in the client by either SSL certs (such as in RESTCONF auth callback) or by SSH (as in NETCONF/CLI over SSH).

The Clixon backend can check credentials of the client if it uses a UNIX socket (not IP socket) for internal communication between clients and backend. In this way, a username claimed by a client can be verified against the UNIX user credentials.

The allowed values of CLICON_NACM_CREDENTIALS is:

  • none: Do not match NACM user to any user credentials. Any user can pose as any other user. Set this for IP sockets, or do not use NACM.
  • exact: Exact match between NACM user and unix socket peer user.
  • except: Exact match between NACM user and unix socket peer user, except for root and wwwuser. This is default.

Recovery user

RFC 8341 defines a NACM emergency recovery session mechanism. Clixon implements a recovery user set by option CLICON_NACM_RECOVERY_USER. If a client accesses the backend as that user, all NACM rules will be bypassed. By default there is no such user.

Moreover, this mechanism is controlled by user credentials which means you can control who can act as the recovery user.

For example, by setting CLICON_NACM_CREDENTIALS to except the RESTCONF daemon can make backend calls posing as the recovery user, even though it runs as www-data.

Alternatively, CLICON_NACM_CREDENTIALS can be set to exact and the recovery user as root, in which case only a netconf or cli session running as root can make recovery operations.