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Enable Access Controls

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

When you initially enable access controls, data access is restricted to an initial admin, most often yourself. This initial admin will have admin privileges in the Pachyderm cluster. Then, the admin user can configure Pachyderm to work with a identity management provider (IdP) of your choice.

If you want to configure a SAML IdP, such as Auth0, you need to create an initial robot admin account by using the --initial-admin=robot:<user> flag.

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-state

System response:

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

  2. To activate through the CLI, follow the steps in Activate Access Control with pachctl.

  3. To activate through the Pachyderm Dashboard, follow the steps in Activate Access Control by Using the Dashboard.

Activate Access Controls with pachctl

You can configure any type of supported users through pachctl. For more information about the types of supported users, see Account Types.

To activate access controls with pachctl, complete the following steps:

  • If you are authenticating as a robot, OIDC, or SAML user, activate access controls by specifying a robot user as an initial admin:
pachctl auth activate --initial-admin=robot:<user>

When you authenticate as a robot user, Pachyderm generates and returns a Pachyderm auth token that issued to authenticate as the initial robot admin by using pachctl auth use-auth-token. Then, follow the steps in the corresponding section to configure a selected type of user:

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.

Activate Access Controls by Using the Dashboard


Currently, you can only configure a GitHub user in the UI. If you want to set up any other type of user, use pachctl.

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:

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

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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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  1. 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:

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Log in to the CLI

To log in to pachctl, complete the following steps:

  • To log in with a GitHub user:

  • 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:

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  • 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 received 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 update: April 5, 2021
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