Tagged: security

Simple Authenticated Access to VM Services Using NGINX and Vagrant Port Forwarding

Tinkering with the OU TM351 VM, looking at putting together an Amazon AWS AMI version, I started to wonder about how I could add a simple authentication layer to mediate public web access so students don’t fire up an image on their dollar and then find other folk using it.

So… h/t to Adam McGreggor for pointing me to nginx. Using this and a smattering of other cribs, I soon got to this (simple_auth.sh):

#!/usr/bin/env bash

#Install nginx
#apache2-utils contains htpassword command to configure password used to restrict access to target ports
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y nginx apache2-utils

#Create a password (test) for user tm351
#Optionally set password via environment variable - TMP_PASS - from Vagrantfile
#If TMP_PASS not set, use default password: test
sudo htpasswd -b -c /etc/nginx/.htpasswd tm351 "${TMP_PASS-test}"

Now we need to create a config file for nginx. Define each service separately, on the top level path (/) for each service (which is referenced relative to its own port).

#Jupyter notebook running on port 8888 inside the VM
upstream notebooks {

#OpenRefine running on port 3333 inside the VM
upstream refine {

#Create a simple (unauthenticated) server on port 80
#The served files should be placed in /var/www/html/*
server {
  listen 80;
  location / {
    root /var/www/html ;
    index index.html;

server {
  #Configure the server to listen on internal port 35180 as an authenticated proxy for internal 8888
  listen 35180;

  auth_basic "Protected...";
  auth_basic_user_file /etc/nginx/.htpasswd;

  location / {
    proxy_pass http://notebooks;
    proxy_redirect off;

server {
  #Configure the server to listen on internal port 35181 as an authenticated proxy for internal 8888
  listen 35181;
  auth_basic "Protected...";
  auth_basic_user_file /etc/nginx/.htpasswd;
  location / {
    proxy_pass http://refine;
    proxy_redirect off;
sudo echo "$config" > /etc/nginx/sites-available/default

#if that doesn't work, eg wrt permissions, try a workaround:
#sudo echo "$config" > default
#sudo mv default /etc/nginx/sites-available/default
#sudo chmod 0644 /etc/nginx/sites-available/default
#sudo chown root /etc/nginx/sites-available/default
#sudo chown :root /etc/nginx/sites-available/default

#Restart nginx with the new configuration
sudo service nginx reload

The password (set on the command line vagrant is called from using export TMP_PASS="NEW PASSWORD") can be passed in from the Vagrantfile for use by simple_auth.sh as follows:

config.vm.provision :shell, :env => {"TMP_PASS" => ENV["TMP_PASS"]}, :inline => <<-SH
  	source /vagrant/build/simple_auth.sh

Setting up port forwarding in my Vagrantfile then looks like this:

config.vm.provider :virtualbox do |virtualbox|

	#jupyter authenticated - expose internal port 35180 on localhost:35180
	config.vm.network :forwarded_port, guest: 35180, host: 35180, auto_correct: true

	#refine authenticated - expose internal port 35181 on localhost:35181
	config.vm.network :forwarded_port, guest: 35181, host: 35181, auto_correct: true


Running the vagrant provisioner, I now have simple authenticated access to the notebook and OpenRefine servers:

Could be a handy quick recipe, that…

See also: Course Apps in the the Cloud – Experimenting With Open Refine on Digital Ocean, Linode and AWS / Amazon EC2 Web Services

PS Only of course it doesn’t quite work like that – because the I’d originally defined the services to be listening over all network ranges on… instead they need to listen on…