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Subversion with Apache and LDAP: Updated

March 3, 2009 in Submerged

My previous blog
entry discussing Subversion, Apache and LDAP is nearing two years old.
It was written when Apache 2.0.x was still the mainstream and when Apache
2.2.x was released, changes in the LDAP modules and their respective
configuration directives has left my previous entry very confusing for
those wanting to use Apache 2.2.x. The purpose of the Definitive
Guide
is to provide a single location for questions for Apache
2.0.x and 2.2.x, while also providing more depth about things to consider
when building your Apache-based Subversion server using LDAP for
authentication.

The Configuration

For those of you that just want to get to the point, where you can copy
and paste and move on, here you go:

Example Apache 2.2.x Configuration Snippet

# Load Apache LDAP modules
LoadModule ldap_module modules/mod_ldap.so
LoadModule authnz_ldap_module modules/mod_authnz_ldap.so

# Load Subversion Apache Modules
LoadModule dav_svn_module     modules/mod_dav_svn.so # Use full path to SUBVERSION_HOME/bin/mod_dav_svn.so on Windows
LoadModule authz_svn_module   modules/mod_authz_svn.so # Use full path to SUBVERSION_HOME/bin/mod_authz_svn.so on Windows

# Work around authz and SVNListParentPath issue
RedirectMatch ^(/repos)$ $1/

# Enable Subversion logging
CustomLog logs/svn_logfile "%t %u %{SVN-ACTION}e" env=SVN-ACTION

<Location /repos/>
  # Enable Subversion
  DAV svn

  # Directory containing all repository for this path
  SVNParentPath /subversion/svn-repos

  # List repositories colleciton
  SVNListParentPath On

  # Enable WebDAV automatic versioning
  SVNAutoversioning On

  # Repository Display Name
  SVNReposName "Your Subversion Repository"

  # Do basic password authentication in the clear
  AuthType Basic

  # The name of the protected area or "realm"
  AuthName "Your Subversion Repository"

  # Make LDAP the authentication mechanism
  AuthBasicProvider ldap

  # Make LDAP authentication is final
  AuthzLDAPAuthoritative on

  # Active Directory requires an authenticating DN to access records
  AuthLDAPBindDN "CN=ldapuser,CN=Users,DC=your,DC=domain"

  # This is the password for the AuthLDAPBindDN user in Active Directory
  AuthLDAPBindPassword ldappassword

  # The LDAP query URL
  AuthLDAPURL "ldap://your.domain:389/DC=your,DC=domain?sAMAccountName?sub?(objectClass=*)"

  # Require a valid user
  Require valid-user

  # Authorization file
  AuthzSVNAccessFile /subversion/apache2/auth/repos.acl
</Location>

Example Apache 2.0.x Configuration Snippet

# Load Apache LDAP modules
LoadModule ldap_module modules/mod_ldap.so
LoadModule auth_ldap_module modules/mod_auth_ldap.so

# Load Subversion Apache Modules
LoadModule dav_svn_module     modules/mod_dav_svn.so # Use full path to SUBVERSION_HOME/bin/mod_dav_svn.so on Windows
LoadModule authz_svn_module   modules/mod_authz_svn.so # Use full path to SUBVERSION_HOME/bin/mod_authz_svn.so on Windows

# Work around authz and SVNListParentPath issue
RedirectMatch ^(/repos)$ $1/

# Enable Subversion logging
CustomLog logs/svn_logfile "%t %u %{SVN-ACTION}e" env=SVN-ACTION

<Location /repos/>
  # Enable Subversion
  DAV svn

  # Directory containing all repository for this path
  SVNParentPath /subversion/svn-repos

  # List repositories colleciton
  SVNListParentPath On

  # Enable WebDAV automatic versioning
  SVNAutoversioning On

  # Repository Display Name
  SVNReposName "Your Subversion Repository"

  # LDAP Authentication is final
  AuthLDAPAuthoritative on

  # Do basic password authentication in the clear
  AuthType Basic

  # The name of the protected area or "realm"
  AuthName "Your Subversion Repository"

  # Active Directory requires an authenticating DN to access records
  AuthLDAPBindDN "CN=ldapuser,CN=Users,DC=your,DC=domain"

  # This is the password for the AuthLDAPBindDN user in Active Directory
  AuthLDAPBindPassword ldappassword

  # The LDAP query URL
  AuthLDAPURL "ldap://your.domain:389/DC=your,DC=domain?sAMAccountName?sub?(objectClass=*)"

  # Require authentication
  Require valid-user

  # Authorization file
  AuthzSVNAccessFile /subversion/apache2/auth/repos.acl
</Location>

(The configurations above were for pointing to an Active Directory (AD)
server.

Understanding the Configuration

So…the above Apache configurations are what I personally use when
building an Apache-based server. Obviously there are changes that need
to be made depending on the environment in but for now, it’s a great
start. To make the best of this opportunity, let’s talk about the
miscellaneous parts of the configuration.

SVNListParentPath and Subversion’s authz

One of the first problems people run into when building an Apache-based
Subversion server is when they want to have mod_dav_svn serve a list of
repositories. Everything works fine until they enable Subversion’s
authorization (authz) support. What happens is the server will be
configured properly and secured properly but when you go to the
repository collection list, which in our case is http://localhost/repos,
you are forbidden to view the collection even if you have access. Well,
with the RedirectMatch closer to the top of the
configuration, you fix this issue. How you might be asking and the
reason is that when you enable authz, you must have a trailing slash
at the end of the collection url. With the RedirectMatch, we
automatically redirect urls to the collection listing when there is no
trailing slash. Problem solved.

Custom Subversion Logging

Subversion uses Apache’s WebDAV support for providing access to its
repositories when using Apache. Unfortunately, when you look at Apache’s
access logs to try and see your Subversion usage, you end up with a lot
of WebDAV communication being logged and you only see a portion of the
actual client/server communication. This is because mod_dav_svn uses
Apache subrequests and Apache does not log subrequests. Even if it did,
turning the Subversion communication in the Apache access log into
something meaningful would be nearly impossible. That being said,
the configuration above has been setup to use one of Subversion’s
features: Apache Logging which
takes the guess work out.

Subversion Configuration

The other Subversion-specific parts of the Apache configuration are
pretty self-explanitory. To summarize what is enabled with the above:

  • SVNListParentPath: Enables the ability to browse the location root and
    get a list of repositories being served by that url base
  • SVNAutoversioning: Enables the use of WebDAV clients to make changes
    to the repository contents without using a Subversion client
  • SVNParentPath: Enables serving N number of repositories for the
    url base
  • SVNReposName: Enables you to put in your own text to be visible in
    the web browser when browsing your repository contents via the
    built-in repository browser provided by mod_dav_svn
  • AuthzSVNAccessFile: Tells Subversion’s mod_authz_svn module where
    to find the authz file.

For more details about the Subversion-specific Apache directives, and
a list of even more ways you can configure your Apache-based Subversion
server, view the mod_dav_svn
and the mod_authz_svn
documentation.

LDAP Configuration

The LDAP portion of the Apache configuration is where most people run
into problems. That being said, we’ll spend a little more time
explaining the Apache LDAP configuration. The most important thing to
note is the subtle differences between Apache 2.0.x and Apache 2.2.x:

Apache 2.0.x           | Apache 2.2.x
-----------------------------------------------
AuthLDAPAuthoritative  | AuthzLDAPAuthoritative
AuthLDAPBindDN         | AuthLDAPBindDN
AuthLDAPBindPassword   | AuthLDAPBindPassword
AuthLDAPURL            | AuthLDAPURL
                       | AuthBasicProvider

You should note that the Apache LDAP module names have also changed
between Apache 2.0.x and 2.2.x. Now that we see the naming changes,
let’s talk about how to properly use these Apache directives to get
the LDAP-based authentication you’re looking for. (I will be
using the Apache 2.2.x names for the Apache directives. If you’re
still using Apache 2.0.x, please refer to the table above for how to
take my documentation and apply it to Apache 2.0.x.)

  • AuthzLDAPAuthoritative: Tells Apache whether or not a failed
    authentication request can be passed to other Apache modules
  • AuthLDAPBindDN: The distinguished name of the user account that
    Apache will use to connect to the directory system to perform its
    user authentication
  • AuthLDAPBindPassword: The password for the user account configured
    via the AuthLDAPBindDN directive
  • AuthLDAPURL: This is a url that tells where the directory server
    is, where to look for users at, what user attribute is used to
    identify a user and other miscellaneous things specific to the
    LDAP query syntax (More on this later.)
  • AuthBasicProvider: This tells Apache which authentication module
    you want to use for Basic authentication

All of the directives above are pretty straight forward except for
the AuthLDAPURL directive. This directive we will
discuss in more detail below. For any other Apache configuration
questions, please resort to the
Apache Documentation
for your respective Apache version.

The LDAP Query URL

For most, the AuthLDAPURL directive is the most
challenging to understand. There is good reason for this. That
one directive actually consists of 6+ pieces of information that
will be different for each Subversion server. Let’s break our
example AuthLDAPURL into its pieces and discuss
the importance, and nuances, of each.

For simplicity, here is the url again, in its entirety:
ldap://your.domain:389/DC=your,DC=domain?sAMAccountName?sub?(objectClass=*)

  • Url scheme: [ldap] This is nothing more than a url scheme.
    It will usually be either ‘ldap’ or ‘ldaps’ in the event that
    you’re using SSL for accessing your directory server.
  • Hostname: [your.domain] This is the ip address or hostname
    of your directory server.
  • Port: [389] This is the port the server is listening on for
    directory server communication.
  • Search Base: [DC=your,DC=domain] This is the distinguished name
    to the path in the directory tree that you want to search
    for users.
  • Username attribute: [sAMAccountName] This is the attribute
    contains the login name being used.
  • Query scope: [sub] This tells the directory server what type
    of query to perform.
  • Filter: [(objectClass=*)] This tells the directory server to
    filter the query for objects matching a particular filter

For more details on constructing an ldap url, which is a standard
and not specific to Apache, view RFC 2255.

Working with Active Directory

Active Directory is known as a Multi-Master Directory
System
. This being said, each directory server in AD
does not always have all the necessary information to perform all
directory server requests. The best way to handle this is to have
Apache query a Global Catalog. A Global Catalog
server has the ability to search at the whole forest for users.
This means if you want to do domain-wide searches or larger, you
need to point to a Global Catalog and you need to update your
Apache configuration accordingly. When using a Global Catalog,
you should be using port 3268 when performing your queries.

Searching for Users

In the example url above, the sAMAccountName
attribute is used to identify the username. This attribute is
Windows/Active Directory specific so for those of you using
OpenLDAP or another option, that attribute probably will not exist.
Change your attribute accordingly. An example is if you wanted to
use the Common Name to login, you could specify
"CN" as the attribute.

LDAP Query Tuning

The last thing we will talk about is the ability to use filters to
make your LDAP query a little more specific. In the example url above
we used "(objectClass=*)", which will search for all objects. If you
know that you only want to search for a particular object type, like
the "user" type, you could use "(objectClass=user)" instead.

Conclusion

Building an Apache-based Subversion server with LDAP as the
authentication mechanism can be daunting for some. I hope this
has made things easier for you.

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Subversion 1.6.0 Release Candidate available

February 23, 2009 in Submerged

The Subversion project released the first publicly available release candidate for the 1.6.0 release on Friday Feb. 20.  You can download the source for this release candidate from the Subversion project on tigris.org.  The release notes for the 1.6 release are still being assembled but you can follow the latest state of the document from the project website.

As we did with the Subversion 1.5.0 release, CollabNet is providing binary packages of this release candidate to make it as easy as possible for the community to evaluate the release and provide their feedback.  You can download binaries for Windows and Linux right now.  We will be adding Solaris and OSX binaries soon.

Follow this blog for more entries on specific features in Subversion 1.6.  There are several new features as you can see in the release notes.  The biggest new feature is arguably the support for tree conflicts.  This will need a separate post of its own to explain, perhaps more than one.  For those that cannot wait, I can only point to the folder with the notes the developers were keeping on the feature.  Not all of those files represent what finally went into the feature so keep that in mind and keep an eye out for more posts.