User permissions and user roles

The "role" in role-based access control refers to a system of user roles, which are assigned to user groups and their users. Those roles contain permissions, which define what a user can or can't do within PE.

When you add new users to PE, they can't actually do anything until they're associated with a user role, either explicitly through role assignment or implicitly through group membership and role inheritance. When a user is added to a role, they receive all the permissions of that role.

There are four default user roles: Administrators, Code Deployers, Operators, and Viewers. In addition, you can create custom roles.

For example, you might want to create a user role that grants users permission to view but not edit a specific subset of node groups. Or you might want to divide up administrative privileges so that one user role is able to reset passwords while another can edit roles and create users.

Permissions are additive. If a user is associated with multiple roles, that user is able to perform all of the actions described by all of the permissions on all of the applied roles.

Structure of user permissions

User permissions are structured as a triple of type, permission, and object.

  • Types are everything that can be acted on, such as node groups, users, or user roles.
  • Permissions are what you can do with each type, such as create, edit, or view.
  • Objects are specific instances of the type.

Some permissions added to the Administrators user role might look like this:

Type Permission Object Description
Node groups View PE Master Gives permission to view the PE Master node group.
User roles Edit All Gives permission to edit all user roles.

When no object is specified, a permission applies to all objects of that type. In those cases, the object is “All”. This is denoted by "*" in the API.

In both the console and the API, "*" is used to express a permission for which an object doesn’t make sense, such as when creating users.

User permissions

The table below lists the available object types and their permissions, as well as an explanation of the permission and how to use it.

Note that types and permissions have both a display name, which is the name you see in the console interface, and a system name, which is the name you use to construct permissions in the API. In the following table, the display names are used.

Type Action (display name) Definition
Certificate requests Accept and reject Accept and reject certificate signing requests. Object must always be "*".
Console View View the PE console. Object must always be "*".
Directory service View, edit, and test View, edit, and test directory service settings. Object must always be "*".
Job orchestrator Start, stop and view jobs Start and stop jobs and tasks, view jobs and job progress, and view an inventory of nodes that are connected to the PCP broker.
Node groups Create, edit, and delete child groups Create new child groups, delete existing child groups, and modify every attribute of child groups except environment. This permission is inherited by all descendents of the node group.
Node groups Edit child group rules Edit the rules of descendents of a node group. This does not grant the ability to edit the rules of the group in the object field, only children of that group. This permission is inherited by all descendents of the node group.
Node groups Edit classes, parameters, and variables Edit every attribute of a node group except its environment and rule. This permission is inherited by all descendents of the node group.
Node groups Edit configuration data Edit parameterized configuration data on a node group. This permission is inherited by all descendents of the node group.
Node groups Edit parameters and variables Edit the class parameters and variables of a node group's classes. This permission is inherited by all descendents of the node group.
Node groups Set environment Set the environment of a node group. This permission is inherited by all descendents of the node group.
Node groups View See all attributes of a node group, most notably the values of class parameters and variables. This permission is inherited by all descendents of the node group.
Nodes Edit node data from PuppetDB Edit node data imported from PuppetDB. Object must always be "*".
Nodes View node data from PuppetDB Vew node data imported from PuppetDB. Object must always be "*".
Puppet agent Run Puppet on agent nodes Trigger a Puppet run from the console or orchestrator. Object must always be "*".
Puppet environment Deploy code Deploy code to a specific PE environment.
Scheduled jobs Delete another user's scheduled jobs. Delete jobs that another user has scheduled to run.
Tasks Run tasks Run specific tasks on all nodes, a selected node group, or nodes that match a PQL query.
User groups Delete Delete a user group. This may be granted per group.
User groups Import Import groups from the directory service for use in RBAC. Object must always be "*".
User roles Create Create new user roles. Object must always be "*".
User roles Edit Edit and delete existing user roles. Object must always be "*".
User roles Edit members Change which users and groups a role is assigned to. This may be granted per role.
Users Create Create new local users. Remote users are "created" by that user authenticating for the first time with RBAC. Object must always be "*".
Users Edit Edit a local user's data, such as name or email, and delete a local or remote user from PE. This may be granted per user.
Users Reset password Grant password reset tokens to users who have forgotten their passwords. This process also reinstates a user after the use has been revoked. This may be granted per user.
Users Revoke Revoke or disable a user account. This means the user is no longer able to authenticate and use the console, node classifier, or RBAC. This permission also includes the ability to revoke the user's authentication tokens. This may be granted per user.

Display names and corresponding system names

The following table provides both the display and system names for the types and all their corresponding permissions.

Type (display name) Type (system name) Action (display name) Action (system name)
Certificate requests cert_requests Accept and reject accept_reject
Console console_page View view
Directory service directory_service View, edit, and test edit
Job orchestrator orchestrator Start, stop and view jobs view
Node groups node_groups Create, edit, and delete child groups modify_children
Node groups node_groups Edit child group rules edit_child_rules
Node groups node_groups Edit classes, parameters, and variables edit_classification
Node groups node_groups Edit configuration data edit_config_data
Node groups node_groups Edit parameters and variables edit_params_and_vars
Node groups node_groups Set environment set_environment
Node groups node_groups View view
Nodes nodes Edit node data from PuppetDB edit_data
Nodes nodes View node data from PuppetDB view_data
Puppet agent puppet_agent Run Puppet on agent nodes run
Puppet environment environment Deploy code deploy_code
Scheduled jobs scheduled_jobs Delete another user’s scheduled jobs delete
Tasks tasks Run Tasks run
User groups user_groups Import import
User roles user_roles Create create
User roles user_roles Edit edit
User roles user_roles Edit members edit_members
Users users Create create
Users users Edit edit
Users users Reset password reset_password
Users users Revoke disable

Working with node group permissions

Node groups in the node classifier are structured hierarchically; therefore, node group permissions inherit. Users with specific permissions on a node group implicitly receive the permissions on any child groups below that node group in the hierarchy.

Two types of permissions affect a node group: those that affect a group itself, and those that affect the group's child groups. For example, giving a user the "Set environment" permission on a group allows the user to set the environment for that group and all of its children. On the other hand, assigning "Edit child group rules" to a group allows a user to edit the rules for any child group of a specified node group, but not for the node group itself. This allows some users to edit aspects of a group, while other users can be given permissions for all children of that group without being able to affect the group itself.

Due to the hierarchical nature of node groups, if a user is given a permission on the default (All) node group, this is functionally equivalent to giving them that permission on "*".

Best practices for assigning permissions

Working with user permissions can be a little tricky. You don't want to grant users permissions that essentially escalate their role, for example. The following sections describe some strategies and requirements for setting permissions.

Grant edit permissions to users with create permissions

Creating new objects doesn't automatically grant the creator permission to view those objects. Therefore, users who have permission to create roles, for example, must also be given permission to edit roles, or they won't be able to see new roles that they create. Our recommendation is to assign users permission to edit all objects of the type that they have permission to create. For example:

Type Permission Object
User roles Edit members All (or "*")
Users Edit All (or "*")

Avoid granting overly permissive permissions

Operators, a default role in PE, have many of the same permissions as Administrators. However, we've intentionally limited this role's ability to edit user roles. This way, members of this group can do many of the same things as Administrators, but they can't edit (or enhance) their own permissions.

Similarly, avoid granting users more permissions than their roles allow. For example, if users have the roles:edit:* permission, they are able to add the node_groups:view:* permission to the roles they belong to, and subsequently see all node groups.

Give permission to edit directory service settings to the appropriate users

The directory service password is not redacted when the settings are requested in the API. Only give directory_service:edit:* permission to users who are allowed see the password and other settings.

The ability to reset passwords should only be given with other password permissions

The ability to help reset passwords for users who forgot them is granted by the users:reset_password:<instance> permission. This permission has the side effect of reinstating revoked users once the reset token is used. As such, the reset password permission should only be given to users who are also allowed to revoke and reinstate other users.