MySQL-based Apache HTTP Authentication for Trac and Subversion

By · Published · apache, mysql, php

In working on a side project with a few friendly developers, we decided to set up a Subversion repository and a Trac bug and issue tracker. Both of these, in normal setups, rely on HTTP authentication. So, being that we already had an authentication database as part of the project, my natural first thought was to find a way to authenticate Trac and Subversion of these against our existing MySQL authentication database rather than to rely on Apache passwd files that would have to be updated separately.

Surprisingly, this was more difficult than it sounded.

My first thought was to try modauthmysql. However, from the front page, it looks as if this project has not been updated since 2005 and is likely not being actively maintained. Nonetheless, I gave it a shot and, surprisingly, got it mostly working against Apache 2.2.14.

Notice I said "mostly." It would authenticate about 50% of the time, while filling the Apache error logs with fun things like:

[Sat Feb 13 11:11:27 2010] [error] [client -.-.-.-] MySQL ERROR: Lost connection to MySQL server at 'reading initial communication packet', system error: 0
[Sat Feb 13 11:11:28 2010] [notice] child pid 19074 exit signal Segmentation fault (11)
[Sat Feb 13 11:34:14 2010] [error] [client -.-.-.-] MySQL ERROR: Lost connection to MySQL server during query:
[Sat Feb 13 11:34:15 2010] [error] [client -.-.-.-] MySQL ERROR: MySQL server has gone away:`

Rather than tear into this and try to figure out why a 5-year-old auth module isn't working against far newer code, and with very little to actually go on, I just concluded that it wasn't compatible and looked for a different solution.

That's when I came across modauthnzexternal. If your'e not familiar with this module, what it allows you to do is auth against a program or script running on your system, therefore allowing you to auth against anything you want - a script talking to a database, PAM system logins, LDAP, pretty much anything you have access to. All you have to do is write the glue code.

In pipe mode, modauthnzexternal uses pwauth format, where it passes the username and password to stdin, each separated with a newline. It uses exit codes to return back to Apache whether or not the login was valid. Knowing that, it's pretty easy to write a little script to intercept the username/password, run a query, and return the login.

#!/usr/bin/php
<?php`

include "secure_prepend.php";
include "database.php";

$fp=fopen("php://stdin","r");
$username = stream_get_line($fp,1024,"\n");
$password = stream_get_line($fp,1024,"\n");
$sql = "select user_id from users where username='%s' and password='%s' and disabled=0"; $sql = sprintf($sql, $db->escape_string($username), $db->escape_string($password));

$user = $db->get_row($sql); if(!empty($user)) { exit(0); } exit(1);

?>

Then, you just hook this into your Apache config for Trac or Subversion:

AddExternalAuth auth /path/to/authenticator/script
SetExternalAuthMethod auth pipe

<Location />
    DAV svn
    SVNPath /path/to/svn
    AuthName "SVN"
    AuthType Basic
    AuthBasicProvider external
    AuthExternal auth
    require valid-user
</Location>

Restart, and it should be all working.

Some may argue that the true "right" way to do this is LDAP. But with just three of us, LDAP is overkill, especially when we already have the rest of the database stuf in place. The big advantage to this, even over modauthmysql, is the amount of processing you can do on login. You basically can run any number of queries in your authenticator script - rather than just one. You can update with last login or last commit date, for instance. Or you can join tables for group checking; say you want someone to have access to Trac, but not Subversion. You can do that with this.

( Comments )

Did something I wrote help you out?

That's great! I don't earn any money from this site - I run no ads, sell no products and participate in no affiliate programs. I do this solely because it's fun; I enjoy writing and sharing what I learn.

All the same, if you found this article helpful and want to show your appreciation, here's my Amazon.com wishlist.


Related Posts

Automatically Provisioning Polycom Phones

PECL memcache and PHP on Mac OS X Leopard


comments powered by Disqus