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Machine ID Getting Started Guide


In this getting started guide, you will use Machine ID to create a bot user for a machine and use that identity to connect to said machine.

Here's an overview of what you will do:

  1. Download and install Teleport 9.2.4
  2. Create a bot user
  3. Start Machine ID
  4. Use certificates issued by Machine ID to connect to a remote machine


Before using Machine ID, you will need an existing Teleport cluster or a Teleport Cloud account.

If you have not set up a Teleport cluster before, follow the Getting started guide.

Machine ID and TLS Routing

TLS Routing support will be added to Machine ID in Teleport 9.3. Until that time, the Teleport Proxy Server will need to be configured with a dedicated SSH listener.

version: v1
  enabled: "yes"
  listen_addr: ""

Step 1/4. Download and install Teleport 9.2.4

In this step, you will be downloading and installing Teleport binaries onto the machine you wish to assign an identity to.

Each Teleport package hosted on our downloads page ships with several useful binaries, including teleport, tctl, tsh, and tbot:

  • teleport is the daemon used to initialize a Teleport cluster; this binary is not used in this guide
  • tctl is the administrative tool you will use to create the bot user (step 1/4)
  • tsh is the client tool you will use to log in to the Teleport Cluster (steps 2/4 and 4/4)
  • tbot is the Machine ID tool you will use to associate a bot user with a machine (step 3/4)

Machine ID is available starting from the Teleport 9.0.0 release. Download the appropriate Teleport package for your platform from our downloads page.

Step 2/4. Create a bot user

Before you create a bot user, you need to determine which role(s) you want to assign to it. You can use the tctl command below to examine what roles exist on your system.

Connect to the Teleport Auth Server and use tctl to examine what roles exist on your system.

tctl get roles --format=text

You will see something like the output below on a fresh install of Teleport with the default roles—your cluster may have different roles. In this example, let's assume you want to give the bot the access role to allow it to connect to machines within your cluster.

Role    Allowed to login as                           Node Labels Access to resources
------- --------------------------------------------- ----------- ----------------------------------------
access  {{internal.logins}}                           <all nodes> event:list,read,session:read,list
auditor no-login-6566121f-b602-47f1-a118-c9c618ee5aec             session:list,read,event:list,read
editor                                                            user:list,create,read,update,delete,...

Machine ID can join with a token or the IAM Method on AWS.

tctl bots add robot --roles=access

First, create an IAM method token that specifies the AWS account from which the bot can join. Create the below file as iam-token.yaml then run tctl create -f iam-token.yaml.

kind: token
version: v2
  # The token name is not a secret because instances must prove that they are
  # running in your AWS account to use this token.
  name: iam-token
  # Set a long expiry time for how long you want to support IAM method for
  # joining. It is safe to set this value to a very long time.
  expires: "3000-01-01T00:00:00Z"
  # Only allow bots to join using this token.
  roles: [Bot]

  # Set the join method to be IAM.
  join_method: iam

  # Define the name of the bot that will be allowed to use this token.
  bot_name: robot

  # Restrict the AWS account and (optionally) ARN that can use this token.
  # This information can be obtained from running the
  # "aws sts get-caller-identity" command from the CLI.
  - aws_account: "111111111111"
    aws_arn: "arn:aws:sts::111111111111:assumed-role/teleport-bot-role/i-*"

Next, create the bot user.

$ tctl bots add robot --token=iam-token --roles=access

Step 3/4. Start Machine ID

Now start Machine ID using the tbot binary. The tbot start command will start running Machine ID in a loop, writing renewable certificates to /var/lib/teleport/bot and the short-lived certificates your application will use to /opt/machine-id.

In a production environment you will want to run Machine ID in the background using a service manager like systemd. However, in this guide you will run it in the foreground to better understand how it works.

tbot start \ --data-dir=/var/lib/teleport/bot \ --destination-dir=/opt/machine-id \ --token=00000000000000000000000000000000 \ --join-method=token \ --ca-pin=sha256:1111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 \
tbot start \ --data-dir=/var/lib/teleport/bot \ --destination-dir=/opt/machine-id \ --token=iam-token \ --join-method=iam \ --ca-pin=sha256:1111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 \

Replace the following fields with values from your own cluster.

  • token is the token output by the tctl bots add command or the name of your IAM method token
  • ca-pin is the CA Pin for your Teleport cluster, and is output by the tctl bots add command
  • destination-dir is where Machine ID writes renewable certificates, which are only used by Machine ID and should not be used by applications and tools
  • data-dir is where Machine ID writes the short-lived certificate. This certificate should be used by applications and tools
  • auth-server is the address of your Teleport Auth Server, for example

Now that Machine ID has successfully started, let's investigate the /opt/machine-id directory to see what was written to disk.

tree /opt/machine-id


├── key


├── known_hosts

├── ssh_config

├── sshcacerts

├── sshcert

├── tlscacerts

└── tlscert

0 directories, 8 files

This directory contains private key material in the key.* files, SSH certificates in the ssh* files, X.509 certificates in the tls* files, and OpenSSH configuration in the ssh_config and known_hosts files to make it easy to integrate Machine ID with external applications and tools.

Step 4/4. Use certificates issued by Machine ID

To use Machine ID, find a host that you want to connect to within your cluster using tsh ls. You might see output like the following on your system.

tsh ls

Node Name Address Labels

--------- -------------- -----------------------------

node-name arch=x86_64,group=api-servers

To use Machine ID with the OpenSSH integration, run the following command to connect to node-name within cluster

ssh -F /opt/machine-id/ssh_config [email protected]
Roles must have logins defined

If you see the below error, it means the user you are trying to log in as is not specified under logins in the role you are using.

ssh -F /opt/machine-id/ssh_config [email protected]

[email protected]: Permission denied (publickey).

kex_exchange_identification: Connection closed by remote host

If you have been following along with the access role, do the following.

  • Export the role by running tctl get roles/access > access.yaml
  • Edit the logins field in access.yaml
  • Update the role by running tctl create -f access.yaml

Now you can replace any invocations of ssh with the above command to provide your applications and tools a machine identity that can be rotated, audited, and controlled with all the familiar Teleport access controls.

Next Steps

Now that you know how to create a bot user to access resources in your infrastructure, dive deeper into the topics relevant to your Machine ID use-case, for example: