Alternativecustom authentication HowTo » History » Revision 3

Revision 2 (Eric Davis, 2010-04-01 23:26) → Revision 3/11 (Eric Davis, 2010-04-01 23:28)

h1. Alternative (custom) Authentication HowTo 

 h2. Intro 

 This page explains how to get Redmine to authenticate users against a different database. Perhaps you're running (and even wrote) an app that already stores account records, and you want Redmine to use those. Presumably that app doesn't support OpenID, else you'd be configuring that. 

 Having Redmine defer authentication to your other app is helpful to users--they only have to remember one set of passwords and the accounts can't get out-of-sync. And if they are registered with your main app, Redmine can be configured to automatically add them to its own table (without storing any password info) when they first log in there. 

 h2. Redmine Support For Alternative Authentication 

 Redmine has specific support for alternative/custom authentication which makes implementing it very easy. 
 * +@auth_sources@ table+ 
 ** You will add a record here specific to your custom authentication. 
 * +@AuthSource@ class+ 
 ** You will create your own subclass of this, and implement the @authenticate()@ method. 

 Redmine's authentication process is along these lines (LDAP & OpenID assumed to be disabled): 
 # First, try to authenticate @login@ & @password@ against Redmine's internal table (@users@). 
 # If that fails, try each alternative authentication source registered in the @auth_sources@ table, stopping when one of the sources succeeds. 
 # If that fails, reject the login attempt. 

 _Note: Redmine will make a note of which source successfully authenticated a specific user. That source will be tried first the next time that user tries to login. Administrators can manually set/override that on a user-by-user basis via @Administration -> Users -> {user} -> Authentication mode@._ 

 h2. Implementing An Alternative Authentication Source 

 This article assumes the alternative authentication involves querying a table (or tables) in some other database. However, the approach can be generalized to authenticate against pretty much anything else (some secret file, some network service, whatever fun scenario you have); you may want to examine the Redmine code in @app/models/auth_source_ldap.rb@ for a non-database alternative authentication example. 

 h3. Insert a Sensible @auth_sources@ Record 

 First, we should decide what our @auth_sources@ record will look like. Redmine core and our @AuthSource@ subclass code will make use of that info, so it's good to figure this out up front. 

 For reference, here is the (Redmine 0.9) @auth_sources@ table: 

 | Field               | Type           | Null | Key | Default | Extra            | 
 | id                  | int(11)        | NO     | PRI | NULL      | auto_increment | 
 | type                | varchar(30)    | NO     |       |           |                  | 
 | name                | varchar(60)    | NO     |       |           |                  | 
 | host                | varchar(60)    | YES    |       | NULL      |                  | 
 | port                | int(11)        | YES    |       | NULL      |                  | 
 | account             | varchar(255) | YES    |       | NULL      |                  | 
 | account_password    | varchar(60)    | YES    |       | NULL      |                  | 
 | base_dn             | varchar(255) | YES    |       | NULL      |                  | 
 | attr_login          | varchar(30)    | YES    |       | NULL      |                  | 
 | attr_firstname      | varchar(30)    | YES    |       | NULL      |                  | 
 | attr_lastname       | varchar(30)    | YES    |       | NULL      |                  | 
 | attr_mail           | varchar(30)    | YES    |       | NULL      |                  | 
 | onthefly_register | tinyint(1)     | NO     |       | 0         |                  | 
 | tls                 | tinyint(1)     | NO     |       | 0         |                  | 

 How our @AuthSource@ subclass code will make use of these fields is more-or-less up to us, but there are two key constraints from Redmine: 
 # +@type@ must be the name of your @AuthSource@ subclass+ 
 #* Redmine will use this field to instantiate your class and call its @authenticate()@ method when attempting to authenticate a login attempt using your custom source. 
 #* This class name should begin with @AuthSource@. 
 #* We'll put "@AuthSourceMyCustomApp@" 
 # +@onthefly_register has a 1 or 0@+ 
 #* Redmine will use this field to determine if unknown users (logins Redmine doesn't know about yet) can be registered within Redmine using this authentication source. Otherwise, if you put "0" here, an Administrator will first have to register the user manually (and presumably set their @Authentication mode@)--Redmine won't add them automatically. 

 Here's how we'll use these fields (substitute your own values): 

 | *Field* | *Our Value* | *Comment* | 
 | id | @NULL@ | Let the database engine provide the id. | 
 | type | "AuthSourceMyCustomApp" | Name of your @AuthSource@ subclass | 
 | name | "MyCustomApp" | Name of this alternative authentication source. Will be displayed in Administration UI pages.| 
 | host | "" | Host name where the other database lives. This article doesn't assume that's the same host as where your Redmine database is. | 
 | port | 3306 | Port for the database on that other host. | 
 | account | "myDbUser" | Account name for accessing that other database. | 
 | account_password | "myDbPass" | Password for that account for accessing the other database. | 
 | base_dn | "mysql:myApp" | This field sounds very LDAP-ish. Sorry. We will interpret it to mean "BASic Database Name data" and store within a string of the form "@{dbAdapterName}:{dbName}@". 
 | attr_login | "name" | What field in your other database table contains the login? | 
 | attr_firstname | "firstName" | What field in your other database table contains the user's first name? | 
 | attr_lastname | "lastName" | What field in your other database table contains the user's last name? | 
 | attr_mail | "email" | What field in your other database table contains the user's email? | 
 | onthefly_register | 1 | Yes, if this source authenticates the user then Redmine should create an internal record for them (w/o password info). | 
 | tls | 0 | Dunno. 0 for "no". | 

 _Note: The @attr_*@ fields are not always really needed. They are aren't used directly by Redmine [currently; 1.9] and although Redmine does need the LDAP authentication source first & last names and email to map LDAP attributes automatically add the user to Redmine attributes. its internal table, it gets that from the return value of the @authentication()@, not from those fields. I recommend using them, however, since they make the @authentication()@ code more widely applicable (fewer changes necessary for you to use the code in your specific situation)._ 

 So we insert the record into our Redmine's @auth_sources@ table with SQL like the following: 

 <code class="Sql"> 
 INSERT INTO auth_sources VALUES (NULL, 'AuthSourceGenboree', 'Genboree', '', 3306, 'myDbUser', 'myDbPass', 'mysql:myApp', 'name', 'firstName', 'lastName', 'email', 1, 0) 

 h3. Implement Your @AuthSource@ Subclass 

 Create a new file for your @AuthSource@ subclass in @app/models/@, following the naming scheme of the existing @auth_source.rb@ and @auth_source_ldap.rb@. 
 * Here we'll use @app/models/auth_source_myApp.rb@ 

 Implement the class such that a call to its @authenticate()@ method will contact the other database and use the table there to check the provided login credentials. The values in your @auth_sources@ table record above are available via instances variables (e.g., @self.base_dn@, @self.attr_firstname@).  

 Here's our commented class: 

 <code class="ruby"> 
 # Redmine MyApp Authentication Source 
 # Copyright (C) 2010 Andrew R Jackson 
 # This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or 
 # modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License 
 # as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 
 # of the License, or (at your option) any later version. 
 # This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, 
 # but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of 
 # GNU General Public License for more details. 
 # You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License 
 # along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software 
 # Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA    02110-1301, USA. 

 # Let's have a new class for our ActiveRecord-based connection 
 # to our alternative authentication database. Remember that we're 
 # not assuming that the alternative authentication database is on 
 # the same host (and/or port) as Redmine's database. So its current 
 # database connection may be of no use to us. ActiveRecord uses class 
 # variables to store state (yay) like current connections and such; thus, 
 # dedicated class... 
 class MyAppCustomDB_ActiveRecord < ActiveRecord::Base 
   MAX_RETRIES = 50 

 # Subclass AuthSource 
 class AuthSourceMyCustomApp < AuthSource 

   # authentication() implementation 
   # - Redmine will call this method, passing the login and password entered 
   #     on the Sign In form. 
   # +login+ : what user entered for their login 
   # +password+ : what user entered for their password 
   def authenticate(login, password) 
     retVal = nil 
     unless(login.blank? or password.blank?) 
       # Get a connection to the authenticating database. 
       # - Don't use ActiveRecord::Base when using establish_connection() to get at 
       #     your alternative database (leave Redmine's current connection alone). 
       #     Use class you prepped above. 
       # - Recall that the values stored in the fields of your auth_sources 
       #     record are available as self.fieldName 

       # First, get the DB Adapter name and database to use for connecting: 
       adapter, dbName = self.base_dn.split(':') 

       # Second, try to get a connection, safely dealing with the MySQL<->ActiveRecord 
       # failed connection bug that can still arise to this day (regardless of  
       # reconnect, oddly). 
       retryCount = 0 
         connPool = MyAppCustomDB_ActiveRecord.establish_connection( 
           :adapter    => adapter, 
           :host       =>, 
           :port       => self.port, 
           :username => self.account, 
           :password => self.account_password, 
           :database => dbName, 
           :reconnect => true 
         db = connPool.checkout() 
       rescue => err # for me, always due to dead connection; must retry bunch-o-times to get a good one if this happens 
         if(retryCount < MyAppCustomDB_ActiveRecord::MAX_RETRIES) 
           sleep(1) if(retryCount < MyAppCustomDB_ActiveRecord::PAUSE_RETRIES) 
           retryCount += 1 
           retry # start again at begin 
         else # too many retries, serious, reraise error and let it fall through as it normally would in Rails. 

       # Third, query the alternative authentication database for needed info. SQL 
       # sufficient, obvious, and doesn't require other setup/LoC. Even more the 
       # case if we have our database engine compute our digests (here, the whole 
       # username is a salt). SQL also nice if your alt auth database doesn't have 
       # AR classes and is not part of a Rails app, etc. 
       resultRow = db.select_one( 
         "SELECT #{self.attr_login}, #{self.attr_firstname}, #{self.attr_lastname}, #{self.attr_mail} " + 
         "FROM genboreeuser " + 
         "WHERE SHA1(CONCAT(#{self.attr_login}, password)) = SHA1(CONCAT('#{db.quote_string(login)}', '#{db.quote_string(password)}'))" 

       unless(resultRow.nil? or resultRow.empty?) 
         user = resultRow[self.attr_login] 
         unless(user.nil? or user.empty?) 
           # Found a record whose login & password digest matches that computed 
           # from Sign Inform parameters. If allowing Redmine to automatically 
           # register such accounts in its internal table, return account 
           # information to Redmine based on record found. 
           retVal = 
             :firstname => resultRow[self.attr_firstname], 
             :lastname => resultRow[self.attr_lastname], 
             :mail => resultRow[self.attr_mail], 
             :auth_source_id => 
           ] if(onthefly_register?) 
     # Check connection back into pool. 
     return retVal 

   def auth_method_name 


 h2. Deploy & Test 

 Save your new class in @app/model/@ and restart Redmine. 

 * You ought to be able to try to log in as a use that exists in your alternative database but that doesn't exist in your Redmine instance. 
 * Existing Redmine accounts (and passwords) should continue to work. 
 * If you examine Redmine's @users@ table, you should see records appear after each successful login that used your alternative database. 
 ** @hashed_password@ will be empty for those records. 
 ** @auth_source_id@ will have the @id@ from @auth_sources@ which worked to authenticate the user; @NULL@ means "use internal Redmine authentication". The Administrator can also manually set this value via the @Authentication mode@ UI widget I mentioned above. 
 * Users authenticated with an alternative source will not be able to change their passwords using Redmine (great check by the core code) and will see an error message if they try to do so. 

 h2. Follow-Up 

 If you want to ONLY use your alternative authentication source for Redmine Sign In, remove the "Register" button. We did this by removing the @menu.push :register@ line in @lib/redmine.rb@. And we turned off the "Lost Password" feature via @Administration -> Settings -> Authentication -> Lost password@. 

 This was all pretty fast and simple to set up, thanks to how Redmine is organized and that some thought about permitting this kind of thing had been made. Quality. I hope I didn't get anything too wrong.