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xen-vtpmmgr - Man Page

Xen virtual TPM stubdomain


Daniel De Graaf <dgdegra@tycho.nsa.gov>

Quan Xu <quan.xu@intel.com>

This document describes the operation and command line interface of vtpmmgr-stubdom. See xen-vtpm(7) for details on the vTPM subsystem as a whole.


The TPM Manager has three primary functions:

1. Securely store the encryption keys for vTPMs

2. Provide a single controlled path of access to the physical TPM

3. Provide evidence (via TPM Quotes) of the current configuration

When combined with a platform that provides a trusted method for creating domains, the TPM Manager provides assurance that the private keys in a vTPM are only available in specific trusted configurations.

The manager accepts commands from the vtpm-stubdom domains via the mini-os TPM backend driver. The vTPM manager communicates directly with hardware TPM using the mini-os tpm_tis driver.

Boot Configurations and TPM Groups

The TPM Manager's data is secured by using the physical TPM's seal operation, which allows data to be bound to specific PCRs. These PCRs are populated in the physical TPM during the boot process, either by the firmware/BIOS or by a dynamic launch environment such as TBOOT. In order to provide assurance of the system's security, the PCRs used to seal the TPM manager's data must contain measurements for domains used to bootstrap the TPM Manager and vTPMs.

Because these measurements are based on hashes, they will change any time that any component of the system is upgraded. Since it is not possible to construct a list of all possible future good measurements, the job of approving configurations is delegated to a third party, referred to here as the system approval agent (SAA). The SAA is identified by its public (RSA) signature key, which is used to sign lists of valid configurations. A single TPM manager can support multiple SAAs via the use of vTPM groups. Each group is associated with a single SAA; this allows the creation of a multi-tenant environment where tenants may not all choose to trust the same SAA.

Each vTPM is bound to a vTPM group at the time of its creation. Each vTPM group has its own AIK in the physical TPM for quotes of the hardware TPM state; when used with a conforming Privacy CA, this allows each group on the system to form the basis of a distinct identity.

Initial Provisioning

When the TPM Manager first boots up, it will create a stub vTPM group along with entries for any vTPMs that communicate with it. This stub group must be provisioned with an SAA and a boot configuration in order to survive a reboot.

When a vTPM is connected to the TPM Manager using a UUID that is not recognized, a slot will be created in group 0 for it. In the future, this auto-creation may be restricted to specific UUIDs (such as the all-zero UUID) to enforce the use of the TPM manager as the generator of the UUID. The first vTPM to be connected is given administrative privileges for the TPM Manager, and should be attached to dom0 or a control domain in order to send provisioning commands.

Provisioning a vTPM group for the system requires the public key of the SAA and privacy CA data used to certify the AIK (see the TPM spec for details). Once the group is created, a signed list of boot measurements can be installed. The initial group controls the ability to boot the system as a whole, and cannot be deleted once provisioned.

Command Line Arguments

Command line arguments are passed to the domain via the 'extra' parameter in the VM config file. Each parameter is separated by white space. For example:

    extra="foo=bar baz"

Valid arguments:


Specify a srk_handle for TPM 2.0.  TPM 2.0 uses a key hierarchy, and this allow specifying the parent handle for vtpmmgr to create its own key under.  Using this option bypasses vtpmmgr trying to take ownership of the TPM.


Set the owner and SRK authdata for the TPM. If not specified, the default is 160 zero bits (the well-known auth value). Valid values of <AUTHSPEC> are:


Use the well known auth (default)


Use the given 40-character ASCII hex string


Use sha1 hash of <STR>.


Choose the driver used for communication with the hardware TPM. Values other than tpm_tis should only be used for testing.

The possible values of <DRIVER> are:


Direct communication with a hardware TPM 1.2.  The domain must have access to TPM IO memory. (default)


Use the Xen tpmfront interface to talk to another domain which provides access to the TPM.

The following options only apply to the tpm_tis driver:


The base address of the hardware memory pages of the TPM. The default is 0xfed40000, as defined by the TCG's PC Client spec.


The irq of the hardware TPM if using interrupts. A value of "probe" can be set to probe for the irq. A value of 0 disables interrupts and uses polling (default 0).


Attempt to use locality <LOC> of the hardware TPM. For full functionality of the TPM Manager, this should be set to "2".

Platform Security Assumptions

While the TPM Manager has the ability to check the hash of the vTPM requesting a key, there is currently no trusted method to inform the TPM Manager of the hash of each new domain.  Because of this, the TPM Manager trusts the UUID key in Xenstore to identify a vTPM in a trusted manner.  The XSM policy may be used to strengthen this assumption if the creation of vTPM-labeled domains is more constrained (for example, only permitted to a domain builder service): the only grants mapped by the TPM Manager should belong to vTPM domains, so restricting the ability to map other domain's granted pages will prevent other domains from directly requesting keys from the TPM Manager.  The TPM Manager uses the hash of the XSM label of the attached vTPM as the kernel hash, so vTPMs with distinct labels may be further partitioned using vTPM groups.

A domain with direct access to the hardware TPM will be able to decrypt the TPM Manager's disk image if the haredware TPM's PCR values are in a permitted configuration.  To protect the TPM Manager's data, the list of permitted configurations should be chosen to include PCRs that measure the hypervisor, domain 0, the TPM Manager, and other critical configuration such as the XSM policy.  If the TPM Manager is configured to use locality 2 as recommended, it is safe to permit the hardware domain to access locality 0 (the default in Linux), although concurrent use of the TPM should be avoided as it can result in unexpected busy errors from the TPM driver.  The ability to access locality 2 of the TPM should be enforced using IO memory labeling in the XSM policy; the physical address 0xFED42xxx is always locality 2 for TPMs using the TIS driver.

Appendix: unsecured migration process for vtpmmgr domain upgrade

There is no direct upgrade supported from previous versions of the vtpmmgr domain due to changes in the on-disk format and the method used to seal data. If a vTPM domain supports migration, this feature should be used to migrate the vTPM's data; however, the vTPM packaged with Xen does not yet support migration.

If adding migration support to the vTPM is not desired, a simpler migration domain usable only for local migration can be constructed. The migration process would look like the following:

1. Start the old vtpmmgr

2. Start the vTPM migration domain

3. Attach the vTPM migration domain's vtpm/0 device to the old vtpmmgr

4. Migration domain executes vtpmmgr_LoadHashKey on vtpm/0

5. Start the new vtpmmgr, possibly shutting down the old one first

6. Attach the vTPM migration domain's vtpm/1 device to the new vtpmmgr

7. Migration domain executes vtpmmgr_SaveHashKey on vtpm/1

This requires the migration domain to be added to the list of valid vTPM kernel hashes. In the current version of the vtpmmgr domain, this is the hash of the XSM label, not the kernel.

Appendix B: vtpmmgr on TPM 2.0

WARNING: Incomplete - cannot persist data

TPM 2.0 support for vTPM manager is incomplete.  There is no support for persisting an encryption key, so vTPM manager regenerates primary and secondary key handles each boot.

Also, the vTPM manger group command implementation hardcodes TPM 1.2 commands. This means running manage-vtpmmgr.pl fails when the TPM 2.0 hardware rejects the TPM 1.2 commands.  vTPM manager with TPM 2.0 cannot create groups and therefore cannot persist vTPM contents.

Manager disk image setup

The vTPM Manager requires a disk image to store its encrypted data. The image does not require a filesystem and can live anywhere on the host disk. The image is not large; the Xen 4.5 vtpmmgr is limited to using the first 2MB of the image but can support more than 20,000 vTPMs.

    dd if=/dev/zero of=/home/vtpm2/vmgr bs=16M count=1

Manager config file

The vTPM Manager domain (vtpmmgr-stubdom) must be started like any other Xen virtual machine and requires a config file.  The manager requires a disk image for storage and permission to access the hardware memory pages for the TPM. The disk must be presented as "hda", and the TPM memory pages are passed using the iomem configuration parameter. The TPM TIS uses 5 pages of IO memory (one per locality) that start at physical address 0xfed40000. By default, the TPM manager uses locality 0 (so only the page at 0xfed40 is needed).



extra option to launch vtpmmgr-stubdom domain on TPM 2.0, and ignore it on TPM 1.x. for example:


Key Hierarchy

    |  vTPM's secrets  | ...
            |  ^
            |  |(Bind / Unbind)
- - - - -  -v  |- - - - - - - - TPM 2.0
    |        SK        +
            |  ^
            v  |
    |       SRK        |
            |  ^
            v  |
    | TPM 2.0 Storage  |
    |   Primary Seed   |

Now the secrets for the vTPMs are only being bound to the presence of thephysical TPM 2.0. Since using PCRs to seal the data can be an important security feature that users of the vtpmmgr rely on. I will replace TPM2_Bind/TPM2_Unbind with TPM2_Seal/TPM2_Unseal to provide as much security as it did for TPM 1.2 in later series of patch.

Design Overview

The architecture of vTPM subsystem on TPM 2.0 is described below:

    |    Linux DomU    | ...
    |       |  ^       |
    |       v  |       |
    |   xen-tpmfront   |
            |  ^
            v  |
    | mini-os/tpmback  |
    |       |  ^       |
    |       v  |       |
    |  vtpm-stubdom    | ...
    |       |  ^       |
    |       v  |       |
    | mini-os/tpmfront |
            |  ^
            v  |
    | mini-os/tpmback  |
    |       |  ^       |
    |       v  |       |
    | vtpmmgr-stubdom  |
    |       |  ^       |
    |       v  |       |
    | mini-os/tpm2_tis |
            |  ^
            v  |
    | Hardware TPM 2.0 |
Linux DomU

The Linux based guest that wants to use a vTPM. There many be more than one of these.


Linux kernel virtual TPM frontend driver. This driver provides vTPM access to a para-virtualized Linux based DomU.


Mini-os TPM backend driver. The Linux frontend driver connects to this backend driver to facilitate communications between the Linux DomU and its vTPM. This driver is also used by vtpmmgr-stubdom to communicate with vtpm-stubdom.


A mini-os stub domain that implements a vTPM. There is a one to one mapping between running vtpm-stubdom instances and logical vtpms on the system. The vTPM Platform Configuration Registers (PCRs) are all initialized to zero.


Mini-os TPM frontend driver. The vTPM mini-os domain vtpm-stubdom uses this driver to communicate with vtpmmgr-stubdom. This driver could also be used separately to implement a mini-os domain that wishes to use a vTPM of its own.


A mini-os domain that implements the vTPM manager. There is only one vTPM manager and it should be running during the entire lifetime of the machine.  This domain regulates access to the physical TPM on the system and secures the persistent state of each vTPM.


Mini-os TPM version 2.0 TPM Interface Specification (TIS) driver. This driver used by vtpmmgr-stubdom to talk directly to the hardware TPM 2.0. Communication is facilitated by mapping hardware memory pages into vtpmmgr-stubdom.

Hardware TPM 2.0

The physical TPM 2.0 that is soldered onto the motherboard.

   functionality for a virtual guest operating system (a DomU) is still TPM 1.2.

Referenced By


2024-07-16 4.18.2 Xen