Archive for the 'authentication' Category

Month in review: January

January for me was an interesting and varied month. Here is a quick look back at what I got up to in the month.
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VuFind, Single Sign On and authentication!

January 28th, 2011 | Category: authentication,vufind

The other day I finished up the work I had been doing for the the last week or so on integrating the different solutions for authenticating users at USQ. This evening I finished up the plugins and services required to handle authentication via USQ’s custom single sign-on (SSO) system (“USQAuth”), USQ’s single sign in (SSI) system (Oracle Internet Directory with an LDAP interface) and USQ Integrated Library System, Virtua) so that they all play nicely together. Something that one would think should be relatively easy to do turns out to be a non-trivial task.
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Putting Token Login to work

So a few weeks ago I released JAuthTools 1.5.4 which features Token Login. Token Login was created to solve the need to generate a secure token that you can use for automatic login, for example with stuff like newsletters. Today I’m going to show you how you can write something simple with Token Login to handle automatic login with tokens in a unique problem case.
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Using Context Login with GMail and Google Apps for your Domain

February 08th, 2009 | Category: authentication,google,jauthtools,joomla

Context login is a new concept that I’m introducing in 1.5.4 that features a new login module called “mod_contextlogin” and support from both the Advanced LDAP and Advanced GMail plugin. I’ll focus on today the GMail plugin and how you can use both context login and the Advanced GMail plugin to connect to two different Google supported domains (e.g. GMail and a Google Apps for your Domain site).

The first step in all of this is to install JAuthTools. The Context Login bit is mostly self contained so once you’ve got my Advanced Tools extensions installed you should be able to install the extras package. You can grab the 1.5.1 version of the Advanced Tools extension off Joomla!Code at and install directly in Joomla!. The next item we’re going to need is the helper package, the best way to grab this is to install the JAuthTools Core Package from which will also give you SSO and User Source libraries as well. The JAuthTools Extras Package contains both the context login module and the Advanced GMail authentication plugin. The extras package also has the LDAP user plugin and the Advanced LDAP plugin but we’re not going to use that today. The current version of the extras package is 1.5.4 (just released!) and you can grab it off JoomlaCode at and you can also install this directly into Joomla!.

Once you’ve got everything installed, you can get to work. The first place we need to go into the Module Manager in the Administrator and look for Context Login. It’ll be there but it won’t be published by default. Opening it up we’ll see a lot of the params that we know and love from the core built in login module but we’ll also see some params immediately below the caching option called “Contexts”, “Require Context” and “Default Context”. The “Contexts” param is a text field that allows you to enter a per line entry of contexts. In this case we’re going to have two different contexts: one for the main GMail domain ( and another for a Google Apps for your Domain (say “”). Perhaps you’ve got a few of these domains that you want to limit people to so what you can do is enable the “Require Context” option. This will enforce a given context upon the module and remove the ability for the user to be flexible. Keep in mind that this isn’t added with the request, only a context ID is sent which is then looked up and found on the remote site. The last option is the default context to use which is set to -1 initially but can be set to the index of the context (starting from 0). This changes the context select box with the default selected and is purely a cosmetic setting. Once you’ve put in a few domains, you can enable the module and position it somewhere. If you want to put in some extra settings you can also do this like you would do with the normal login module.

The next step is to configure the Advanced GMail plugin. The Advanced GMail has all of the features of the existing GMail plugin and then some. If you’re currently using the GMail plugin, disable it first before you switch to the Advanced GMail plugin. The Advanced GMail plugin has a few configuration options such as “Apply Suffix” (similar to contexts but limited to only a single domain), “Username Suffix” (used with Apply Suffix, a single domain name such as “”) , “Verify Peer” is a SSL configuration option that should be left on unless you’re having seriously strange issues (at this point, change host!) and that leaves us with “Use Contexts”. This is a simple option that has “Yes”, “No” and “Require”. What this then causes it to do is look for a context in the request and then apply the context if it finds it. The “Require” option will then enforce the use of contexts and will fail the user if the contxt doesn’t line up properly. The last option is a ‘username’ blacklist. This is a list of usernames that the plugin should never authenticate for which is useful for accounts that you may not control (e.g. ‘admin’) to prevent people logging in using it. This is an extra security feature that I’ve introduced and is certainly recommend using. Enable the plugin and we’re off!

Once both the module is configured and enabled as well as the plugin you should be able to see it in the front end. From here you can see the form and log into to it, selecting your context and then logging in appropriately.


JAuthTools 1.5.4 Released

February 08th, 2009 | Category: authentication,jauthtools,joomla

Today I finally got around to releasing JAuthTools 1.5.4, the latest release in JAuthTools. I’ve put together a lot of stuff for this new release and I’m happy to have it released out there. This release introduces Token Login, Context Login, the release of my own LDAP and GMail authentication plugins each with extra advanced features (including context integration), an OpenID SSO plugin submitted by Ian MacLennan, a new way of handling SSO plugins with new types of plugins and many more. There are tonnes of little items that I’ve added as well as bugs that have been fixed. I will follow up with blog posts about how you can configure different items to work together.


Today: 04-Nov-2008: Fun with Kerberos

Today was a mostly ordinary day, though the day started with me buying Red Alert 3, so that wasn’t too bad – yay! Australia! A week behind the rest of the world! I could have pirated the game and had it faster and cheaper, perhaps even finished! But I digress, it was an ordinary day.

Today is Melbourne Cup day, being the first Tuesday of November, so we had a luncheon of sorts and a drawing for the horses. Didn’t win, the food was good, I’m $10 poorer and such is life.

I’ve been spending more time at work using my Mac as a primary machine. Since I’ve moved to Exchange from Domino (or Outlook from Notes), I’ve gotten Evolution on Linux mostly working (with the exception that it doesn’t automatically look up names for emails which is tedious) and Apple’s Mail and Address Book both playing nicely with Exchange. I do miss the fact that I had Notes on my Linux desktop and things mostly worked albeit slowly and consuming large amounts of memory, but it worked with all of the features available normally. Mail’s ability to due autocompletion is what is drawing me back to it as a client, which when you start writing emails is actually more useful than you would think. Its still not up to par with the Notes autocomplete which was quite cool and a lot more advanced than either Mail’s or Outlook’s (I get Outlook via Citrix).

I’ve also been trying out NetBean’s PHP Early Access through a nightly build (has the ability to create PHP projects from existing sources) and I’m impressed with it. I tried it out because I wanted to try out debugging with my PHP instance and the dated version of Eclipse I had (3.2) seems to have issues – more than likely my fault – and I don’t want to waste time on trying to fix something. NetBean’s installed and worked almost instantly, however it took me a while to find where I could change the params to get J! to route items properly. I managed to work out the bug that I was having without too much issue. I knew what it was but not where it was: turned out to be exactly what I thought, an assignment operator used instead of the append operator. The Subversion support seems to be a bit off and doesn’t work yet, so I’m not quite ready to ditch Eclipse yet – but I’ll try with later versions to see what I get.

I had a chat with the principal (we have principal, manager, director, CEO as our chain of command) about the projects that I’m doing and the ones I’m interested in so I’ll have to do some paperwork and business cases for the new projects and justify items. We’ve recently got a new manager who is trying to find where everything is so part of this is explaining everything so that he can get a grasp of the way the system works.

Then I spent the majority of the afternoon with one of the ITS guys working through how our Citrix boxes work with Flex profiles and the mandatory profiles filling in the gaps in his knowledge and how different parts of the system and why items might break or behave in a particular way. I think he’s worked out how it works and he’s even figured out why a few issues are happening. So nothing exciting but useful.

And finally I had fun with Kerberos. I built the Kerberos module on the SLES10 server, installed it, restarted Apache and tried to get it to work. On my Mac both Safari and Firefox requested a username and password instead of using a Kerberos token and IE6 in my Citrix session seemed to just go in a weird infinite loop. I slowly worked through my entire Kerberos configuration on the server until I got to looking at the keys. It turns out that the keys were created with the wrong virtual host name for the server which is causing the issues. The keys for the real server name actually worked fine when I got around to testing them which proves that everything will work once I get the keys. The last part is a fix to the Citrix system which for some reason think that the intranet site is actually on the internet, but I’m assured that this should be easy to achieve. Getting Kerberos up and running was pretty easy ignoring the faulty keys compared with some of the nightmares I’ve had getting items to play nicely together. I’ll probably add something to my guide ( on it, to help with items.

Who knows, I may have even figured this Kerberos thing out!

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Today, 14-Jan-08: Query languages, LDAP, business intelligence and filesystems

I’m going to start regularly writing daily posts about what I did today and the things I found interesting, I’ll at least try anyway.

First up for today is a personal thing, I completed a rather largish Uni assignment today which reminded me of all of the pains that come with C++, but to follow that I returned to working on my filesystem in C, which is just more pain. I got a quick response back, and almost full marks (96%) so I’m happy for all of the time I put in to get it done and how its probably far more complicated than anything else that will be submitted (it used Boost Signals and a whole heap of other things that I don’t think will ever be taught in the subject for a long time). But hey, thats just Uni!

Today I finally managed to get Pentaho, some business intelligence (BI) software, to play nicely with Novell eDirectory’s LDAP interface. I must have missed the option, but Pentaho doesn’t seem to accept anonymous binding to the LDAP server, which means I need to bind as a user. By default our users funnily enough have less access than the anonymous account (which is actually a proxy account with full browse permissions). The solution was simple enough: we shunted our dummy Pentaho user into the same group as the anonymous proxy account and everything worked. So I’ve now got Pentaho using LDAP for authentication (yay!) and a MySQL database to get its role/group permissions. Funnily enough when its all said and done the documentation is pretty close to the mark.

But once I had that I don’t have an ability to manage the groups/roles within Pentaho, so I end up having to write some small PHP to manage that. Luckily I worked on a project a while back that I called “Joomla! Central Management for Users” which basically connected directly to MySQL databases of Joomla! installs and altered the users. I had originally built it with a plugin infrastructure in mind so that I could plug other stuff into it later. Starting this morning it only had a ‘connector’ for Joomla! 1.0 via MySQL and LDAP, now it has one for the Pentaho security tables. This means I can easily copy users from LDAP or Joomla! into Pentaho without too much issues and has a debugged user interface already. But wait theres more!

When I was originally developing the tool I wrote a query language for it. See, SQL is a great language for databases, but its a bit hard to apply in situations where you don’t quite need all of that power. So I wrote my own query language. Its quite simple it can validate simple attributes and allows for set operations within “Sites” (a site is a container for users and groups). So for example I want to see all of the users who are on our web site but not in our LDAP directory:
existsin “Web Sites” and not existsin “LDAP”

Primitive sure, but it because writing a large SQL expression for something simple. I hope to expand on it, but it already does what it needs to do for the time being.

So I’ve covered query languages, LDAP and BI! All I need now is the filesystem news. Today there was a whole heap of fan fare on Slashdot about the ZFS news from Apple, whilst thats cool and all (especially since I don’t mind Apple’s UI), I personally have my own filesystem that I’ve gotten back into to do some work on. It also happens to be a Uni assignment due on Friday! So I’ll be back to working on that and hopefully I’ll have it to a nice stage that I can do some lightening talks at!

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JDiagnostic tech preview released

June 14th, 2007 | Category: activedirectory,authentication,joomla,ldap,windows

A lot of emails I get are with regards to deploying JAuthTools and Microsoft Active Directory (AD). AD doesn’t make things easy for users in the LDAP interface: its case sensitive, has everything in capitals, disallows anonymous searching (though users can bind anonymously and see,well, nothing) and has an interesting default layout (e.g. CN=Users instead of OU=Users). By default Joomla! 1.0.x doesn’t have the ability to log items which is a function of the system (e.g. there are very few functions that run purely in the ‘background’) which makes it hard to diagnose things that are going wrong. There is a small tool I use called JLogger which is basically a mambot API loader and a component to view the logs. Its pretty primitive and I haven’t ‘released’ it because it hasn’t had anywhere enough work done on it (it is available via Subversion, zip files together to create installable packages) but it was one of the first step towards diagnostic tools, and this is another step.

Recently I released JDiagnostic, a tech demo of a tool that I hope will evolve into a launching pad for a wide range of useful tools, tests and diagnostics. At present it solves the above stated problem: MSAD integration. Its a step by step wizard configurator for Active Directory, with tests along the way. At the end it configures the LDAP SSI and Joomla! LDAP mambots with as much details as it can (what you’ve supplied) leaving you hopefully with a consistent and working Active Directory setup, without the pain of having to read through logs to see what is happening.

You can check out JDiagnostic on the Pasamio’s Projects FRS page.


Joomla! 1.0.x LDAP coolness

June 05th, 2007 | Category: authentication,joomla,ldap

So I thought I’d start out with something I think is pretty cool: with a few tweaks you can fully integrate your LDAP system into Joomla! authentication system. Frontend and backend. Thats right you can use LDAP Tools to authenticate your users, and you can even plug it into JACLPlus or similar if you’re using that in your corporate environment. So I reckon thats pretty cool, but what if you don’t have an LDAP server to begin with?

Well, I’m glad you asked that question, because I’ve got it covered as well! I’ve written up a simple starters guide on how to get an LDAP server up and running and get Joomla! authenticating into it. Its mostly step by step and I’ve tested it out running Debian and Mac OS X 10.4 with the standard OpenLDAP instances that ship with those environments. Not only that but when you complete the tutorial theres a sample configuration for both Joomla! 1.0 and 1.5 so you can get up and running easily!

Lastly I’ve released 1.0.3 of JAuthTools for Joomla! 1.0 which adds support for LDAP powered administrator login (previously it relied on caching your password from the front end), a small refactoring of authentication options and some fixes in the XML files for missing or short descriptions. As always this is tested against Microsoft Active Directory, OpenLDAP and Novell eDirectory to see if they work and there are samples of known good set ups for those environments.

So you’ve read all of this and you’re wondering where you can the information from so heres the answer: for JAuthTools 1.0.3 you can go to the File Release Section on Joomla!Code, for the sample guides, the alterations required to the Joomla! Core to get back end login and much more documentation you can check it out at the JAuthTools wiki.

So what are you waiting for? Good luck! 🙂

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