systemd-ask-password — Query the user for a system password
systemd-ask-password [OPTIONS...] [MESSAGE]
systemd-ask-password may be used to query
a system password or passphrase from the user, using a question
message specified on the command line. When run from a TTY it will
query a password on the TTY and print it to standard output. When
run with no TTY or with
--no-tty it will use the
system-wide query mechanism, which allows active users to respond via
several agents, listed below.
The purpose of this tool is to query system-wide passwords — that is passwords not attached to a specific user account. Examples include: unlocking encrypted hard disks when they are plugged in or at boot, entering an SSL certificate passphrase for web and VPN servers.
Existing agents are:
A boot-time password agent asking the user for passwords using plymouth(8),
A boot-time password agent querying the user directly on the console — systemd-ask-password-console.service(8),
A TTY agent that is temporarily spawned during systemctl(1) invocations,
A command line agent which can be started temporarily to process queued password requests — systemd-tty-ask-password-agent --query.
Answering system-wide password queries is a privileged operation, hence all the agents listed above (except for the last one), run as privileged system services. The last one also needs elevated privileges, so should be run through sudo(8) or similar.
Additional password agents may be implemented according to the systemd Password Agent Specification.
If a password is queried on a TTY, the user may press TAB to hide the asterisks normally shown for each character typed. Pressing Backspace as first key achieves the same effect.
The following options are understood:
Specify an icon name alongside the password query, which may be used in all agents supporting graphical display. The icon name should follow the XDG Icon Naming Specification.
Specify an identifier for this password
query. This identifier is freely choosable and allows
recognition of queries by involved agents. It should include
the subsystem doing the query and the specific object the
query is done for. Example:
Configure a kernel keyring key name to use as
cache for the password. If set, then the tool will try to push
any collected passwords into the kernel keyring of the root
user, as a key of the specified name. If combined with
--accept-cached, it will also try to retrieve
such cached passwords from the key in the kernel keyring
instead of querying the user right away. By using this option,
the kernel keyring may be used as effective cache to avoid
repeatedly asking users for passwords, if there are multiple
objects that may be unlocked with the same password. The
cached key will have a timeout of 2.5min set, after which it
will be purged from the kernel keyring. Note that it is
possible to cache multiple passwords under the same keyname,
in which case they will be stored as
NUL-separated list of
to access the cached key via the kernel keyring
directly. Example: "
Configure a credential to read the password from – if it exists. This may be used in
conjunction with the
SetCredential= settings in unit files. See
details. If not specified, defaults to "
password". This option has no effect if no
credentials directory is passed to the program (i.e.
$CREDENTIALS_DIRECTORY is not
set) or if the no credential of the specified name exists.
Specify the query timeout in seconds. Defaults to 90s. A timeout of 0 waits indefinitely.
Controls whether to echo user input. Takes a boolean or the special string
masked", the default being the latter. If enabled the typed characters are echoed
literally, which is useful for prompting for usernames and other non-protected data. If disabled the
typed characters are not echoed in any form, the user will not get feedback on their input. If set to
masked", an asterisk ("
*") is echoed for each character
typed. In this mode, if the user hits the tabulator key ("
↹"), echo is turned
off. (Alternatively, if the user hits the backspace key ("
⌫") while no data has
been entered otherwise, echo is turned off, too).
--echo=yes, see above.
Controls whether or not to prefix the query with a
lock and key emoji (🔐), if the TTY settings permit this. The default
auto", which defaults to "
--echo=yes is given.
Never ask for password on current TTY even if one is available. Always use agent system.
If passed, accept cached passwords, i.e. passwords previously entered.
When used in conjunction with
--accept-cached accept multiple passwords.
This will output one password per line.
Do not print passwords to standard output. This is useful if you want to store a
password in kernel keyring with
--keyname= but do not want it to show up on screen
or in logs.
By default, when the acquired password is written to standard output it is suffixed
by a newline character. This may be turned off with the
-n switch, similarly to the
switch of the same name of the echo(1)
On success, 0 is returned, a non-zero failure code otherwise.