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If you are using Pachyderm version 1.9.7 or earlier, go to the documentation archive.

Configure Access Controls

If access controls are activated, each data repository, or repo, in Pachyderm has an Access Control List (ACL) associated with it. The ACL includes:

  • READERs - users who can read the data versioned in the repo.
  • WRITERs - users with READER access who can also submit additions, deletions, or modifications of data into the repo.
  • OWNERs - users with READER and WRITER access who can also modify the repo's ACL.

Pachyderm defines the following account types:

  • GitHub user is a user account that is associated with a GitHub account and logs in through the GitHub OAuth flow. If you do not use any third-party identity provider, you use this option. When a user tries to log in with a GitHub account, Pachyderm verifies the identity and sends a Pachyderm token for that account.
  • Robot user is a user account that logs in with a pach-generated authentication token. Typically, you create a user in simplified workflow scenarios, such as initial SAML configuration.
  • Pipeline is an account that Pachyderm creates for data pipelines. Pipelines inherit access control from its creator.
  • SAML user is a user account that is associated with a Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) identity provider. When a user tries to log in through a SAML ID provider, the system confirms the identity, associates that identity with a SAML identity provider account, and responds with the SAML identity provider token for that user. Pachyderm verifies the token, drops it, and creates a new internal token that encapsulates the information about the user.

By default, Pachyderm defines one hardcoded group called admin. Users in the admin group can perform any action on the cluster including appointing other admins. Furthermore, only the cluster admins can manage a repository without ACLs.

Enable Access Control

Before you enable access controls, make sure that you have activated Pachyderm Enterprise Edition as described in Deploy Enterprise Edition.

To enable access controls, complete the following steps:

  1. Verify the status of the Enterprise features by opening the Pachyderm dashboard in your browser or by running the following pachctl command:

    pachctl enterprise get-stat

    System response:

  2. Activate the Enterprise access control features by completing the steps in one of these sections:

Activate Access Controls by Using the Dashboard

To activate access controls in the Pachyderm dashboard, complete the following steps:

  1. Go to the Settings page.
  2. Click the Activate Access Controls button.

    After you click the button, Pachyderm enables you to add GitHub users as cluster admins and activate access control:

    alt tag

    After activating access controls, you should see the following screen that asks you to log in to Pachyderm:

    alt tag

Activate Access Controls with pachctl

To activate access controls with pachctl, choose one of these options:

  1. Activate access controls by specifying an initial admin user:

    pachctl auth activate --initial-admin=<prefix>:<user>

    You must prefix the username with the appropriate account type, either github:<user> or robot:<user>. If you select the latter, Pachyderm generates and returns a Pachyderm auth token that might be used to authenticate as the initial robot admin by using pachctl auth use-auth-token. You can use this option when you cannot use GitHub as an identity provider.

  2. Activate access controls with a GitHub account:

    pachctl auth activate

    Pachyderm prompts you to log in with your GitHub account. The GitHub account that you sign in with is the only admin until you add more by running pachctl auth modify-admins.

Log in to Pachyderm

After you activate access controls, log in to your cluster either through the dashboard or CLI. The CLI and the dashboard have independent login workflows:

Log in to the Dashboard

After you have activated access controls for Pachyderm, you need to log in to use the Pachyderm dashboard as shown above in Activate Access Controls by Using the Dashboard.

To log in to the dashboard, complete the following steps:

  1. Click the Get GitHub token button. If you have not previously authorized Pachyderm on GitHub, an option to Authorize Pachyderm appears. After you authorize Pachyderm, a Pachyderm user token appears:

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  2. Copy and paste this token back into the Pachyderm login screen and press Enter. You are now logged in to Pachyderm, and you should see your GitHub avatar and an indication of your user in the upper left-hand corner of the dashboard:

    alt tag

Log in to the CLI

To log in to pachctl, complete the following steps:

  1. Type the following command:

    pachctl auth login

    When you run this command, pachctl provides you with a GitHub link to authenticate as a GitHub user.

    If you have not previously authorized Pachyderm on GitHub, an option to Authorize Pachyderm appears. After you authorize Pachyderm, a Pachyderm user token appears:

    alt tag

  2. Copy and paste this token back into the terminal and press enter.

    You are now logged in to Pachyderm!

    1. Alternatively, you can run the command:

      pachctl auth use-auth-token
    2. Paste an authentication token recieved from pachctl auth activate --initial-admin=robot:<user> or pachctl auth get-auth-token.

Manage and update user access

You can manage user access in the UI and CLI. For example, you are logged in to Pachyderm as the user dwhitena and have a repository called test. Because the user dwhitena created this repository, dwhitena has full OWNER-level access to the repo. You can confirm this in the dashboard by navigating to or clicking on the repo test:

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Alternatively, you can confirm your access by running the pachctl auth get ... command.


pachctl auth get dwhitena test

System response:


An OWNER of test or a cluster admin can then set other user’s level of access to the repo by using the pachctl auth set ... command or through the dashboard.

For example, to give the GitHub users JoeyZwicker and msteffen READER, but not WRITER or OWNER, access to test and jdoliner WRITER, but not OWNER, access, click on Modify access controls under the repo details in the dashboard. This functionality allows you to add the users easily one by one:

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In Pachyderm, you do not explicitly grant users access to pipelines. Instead, pipelines infer access from their input and output repositories. To update a pipeline, you must have at least READER-level access to all pipeline inputs and at least WRITER-level access to the pipeline output. This is because pipelines read from their input repos and write to their output repos, and you cannot grant a pipeline more access than you have yourself.

  • An OWNER, WRITER, or READER of a repo can subscribe a pipeline to that repo.
  • When a user subscribes a pipeline to a repo, Pachyderm sets that user as an OWNER of that pipeline's output repo.
  • If additional users need access to the output repository, the initial OWNER of a pipeline's output repo, or an admin, needs to configure these access rules.
  • To update a pipeline, you must have WRITER access to the pipeline's output repos and READER access to the pipeline's input repos.

Manage the Activation Code

When an enterprise activation code expires, an auth-activated Pachyderm cluster goes into an admin-only state. In this state, only admins have access to data that is in Pachyderm. This safety measure keeps sensitive data protected, even when an enterprise subscription becomes stale. As soon as the enterprise activation code is updated by using the dashboard or CLI, the Pachyderm cluster returns to its previous state.

When you deactivate access controls on a Pachyderm cluster by running pachctl auth deactivate, the cluster returns its original state that including the following changes:

  • All ACLs are deleted.
  • The cluster returns to being a blank slate in regards to access control. Everyone that can connect to Pachyderm can access and modify the data in all repos.
  • No users are present in Pachyderm, and no one can log in to Pachyderm.
Last updated: February 28, 2020