I am managing a CentOS 6.2 server remotely using X over SSH (actually NX, but that's just a proxy).

The Everything is working correctly, except when I try to do tasks that would normally require administrative permissions (such as things in palimpsest, or any other GUI tools).

When I try to do things which would trigger a authentication dialog (through polkit-gnome)the permissions dialog is silently failing, and the software is running as my user account, rather then root.

To clarify, if I change package settings using the package manager at the local console, I get a pop-up - "Authentication is required to (add/remove) packages".

If I do this remotely, the authentication fails, and I get a "Authorization Failed" dialog.

It seems to boil down to policykit configuration, but I've followed the polkit man pages, and edited my configuration, and it hasn't changed anything.

I can manage packages/do super-user stuff from the command line without any problems. However, I am very visually oriented, and much prefer a GUI when possible.

Ok, so it seems that I need to add a new rule to policykit.

Going off the man pages, I created a file (named 20-remote-admin-allow.pkla), and dropped it into /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/. Since there seems to be multiple polkit config directories, I copied the same file into /var/lib/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/.

It does not appear to have changed anything.

Here is my config file, as mentioned above:

[root@cloaica zul]# cat /var/lib/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/10-remote-admin-allow.pkla 
[Let remote users do admin stuff]

[root@cloaica zul]# cat /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/20-remote-admin-allow.pkla 
[Allow Remote Administraton]
[root@cloaica zul]# 

pkaction --verbose still reports

implicit any:      no
implicit inactive: no

for most actions, and said actions fail if I attempt them, with "Authentication Failed" dialog, as mentioned above.

Seriously, I does anyone actually understand how polkit actually works?

Policykit seems to be an ongoing nightmare, and considering there used to be a GUI configuration tool and it was removed, I don't understand how anyone thought this was ready for release into a production OS.

To be clear, I like having the "please authenticate to perform this action" dialogs. I just want to actually have them, rather then having the system silently fail to authenticate.

I don't want to remove the entirety of polkit, just make it either think all sessions are active, or that inactive sessions get the same permissions as active sessions.

  • I have no experience in CentOS, but it seems a PolicyKit related problem. The default conf on Debian and Ubuntu gives no privilege to a nonlocal user.
    – enzotib
    Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 12:45
  • @enzotib - I would guess it's something like that. Now, where is is the setting that controls those privileges?
    – Fake Name
    Commented Dec 26, 2011 at 6:11
  • They are in /etc/polkit-1 and /var/lib/polkit-1. See also pkaction --verbose output and pklocalauthority man page.
    – enzotib
    Commented Dec 26, 2011 at 8:28
  • @enzotib - I've done that, see updated question. It hasn't helped.
    – Fake Name
    Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 4:05
  • Some remarks: 1) the file must have .pkla extension; 2) there should be Identity and not AdminIdentities; 3) pkaction returns information for registered actions (found in /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/*) and do not show local modifications, so it is better to try than believe in pkaction.
    – enzotib
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 8:50

4 Answers 4


Can't say for certain you're having the exact same problem, but this is listed as a fedora bug, as of Nov, 2011. I installed a clean CentOS 6, upgraded all packages and then had the same problem trying to remotely access and add a new package (something requiring auth).


Hi I have trouble with this as well. Specifically with udisk.

(I'm running Ubuntu desktop 14.04)

To fix for udisks I did this.

  1. Backup and edit

    sudo vi /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.udisks.policy

  2. look for all the:


    and then change the:




this allows remote access rather than just froce local only

  • FYI, the changes made via this method will most likely be overwritten by a udisk upgrade. Better to place a suitable file into, for example, the /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d directory.
    – Digger
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 17:44

Try this one:

[Remote Admin SSH access] 

After this add the user to users group. Do you see any security issues with this configuration?


I found that running:

 /usr/lib/policykit-1-gnome/polkit-gnome-authentication-agent-1 &

first in my ssh session allows me to get the normal auth popup as if I was local.

With this, I'm able to run gnome-disks or any other gnome utility that needs auth_admin.

This binary comes from the policykit-1-gnome package.

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