Kerberos authentication has two phases: an initial authentication that allows for all subsequent authentications, and the subsequent authentications themselves.
The following figure shows how the initial authentication takes place.
A client (a user, or a service such as NFS) begins a SEAM session by requesting a ticket-granting ticket (TGT) from the Key Distribution Center (KDC). This request is often done automatically at login.
A ticket-granting ticket is needed to obtain other tickets for specific services. Think of the ticket-granting ticket as similar to a passport. Like a passport, the ticket-granting ticket identifies you and allows you to obtain numerous “visas,” where the “visas” (tickets) are not for foreign countries but for remote machines or network services. Like passports and visas, the ticket-granting ticket and the other various tickets have limited lifetimes. The difference is that “Kerberized” commands notice that you have a passport and obtain the visas for you. You don't have to perform the transactions yourself.
The KDC creates a ticket–granting ticket and sends it back, in encrypted form, to the client. The client decrypts the ticket-granting ticket by using the client's password.
Now in possession of a valid ticket-granting ticket, the client can request tickets for all sorts of network operations for as long as the ticket-granting ticket lasts. This ticket usually lasts for a few hours. Each time the client performs a unique network operation, it requests a ticket for that operation from the KDC.