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<title>user_manage.cgi Manual</title>

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<h1><cite>user_manage</cite>: The All-Purpose Web Server User
Management Script</h1>


For obscure reasons, there isn't a satisfactory remote tool for the
Apache Web server that allows authorized users to change their
passwords remotely.  As a result, the onerous task of managing the
password and group files falls on the Webmaster.
<cite>user_manage</cite> was written to fill this need.  In addition
to its basic role as a password changer, this script allows the
Webmaster to add, edit and delete users and groups, all via a
form-based interface.


<cite>user_manage</cite> handles most variants of the Apache "Basic"
and "Digest" authentication scheme.  Using one simple interface, it
manages each of the following types of password and group files:

  <li>Human readable text files.
  <li>DBM database files.
  <li>Berkeley DB database files.
  <li>SQL databases.

In addition to running as a CGI script, <cite>user_manage</cite> can
be used from the command-line to manipulate users and groups,
replacing both <cite>dbmmanage</cite> and <cite>htpasswd</cite> with a
simple and consistent interface.  Furthermore, by allowing you to
define security "realms" consisting of paired password and group
files, it avoids operator errors that often result in the incorrect
password file being modified.


Many of <cite>user_manage's</cite> functions will also work with other
Unix Web servers, including NCSA httpd, and the CERN server.  There is
support for Netscape user (but not group) databases. This script
has not been tested with Windows NT servers.


The entire package is available as a gzipped tar archive at this link:


<h2>System Requirements</h2>

<cite>user_manage</cite> requires the following components to be
installed on the webserver machine in order to run:

  <dt><a href="http://www.perl.com/CPAN/">The Perl interpreter</a>
  <dd>Perl5.003 or higher is recommended.
  <dt>HTTPD Modules
  <dd>This set of Perl modules, written by Doug MacEachern and
      enhanced by myself, provides core
      file manipulation routines.  For your convenience, it is
      included with this distribution.  The modules must be installed
      in the Perl library directory as described below.  
  <dt><a href="http://www.genome.wi.mit.edu/ftp/pub/software/WWW/">CGI.pm and CGI::Carp</a>
  <dd>These Perl modules provide various utilities to the
      program when running as a CGI script.  They can be obtained at
      the link above.


<h2><a name="install">Installation</a></h2>

This section explains how to install <cite>user_manage</cite>.

<h3>Unpack the Distribution</h3>

Unpack the distribution using the <cite>tar</cite> and
<cite>zcat</cite> programs.

<b>% zcat user_manage.tar.gz | tar xvf -</b>
drwxr-xr-x lstein/lstein     0 Dec 22 20:14 1997 HTTPD-User-Manage-1.5/
drwxr-xr-x lstein/lstein     0 Dec 22 20:14 1997 HTTPD-User-Manage-1.5/lib/
drwxr-xr-x lstein/lstein     0 Dec 22 20:14 1997 HTTPD-User-Manage-1.5/lib/HTTPD/
drwxr-xr-x lstein/lstein     0 Dec 22 20:14 1997 HTTPD-User-Manage-1.5/lib/HTTPD/UserAdmin/
-r--r--r-- lstein/lstein  1934 Dec 22 18:49 1997 HTTPD-User-Manage-1.5/lib/HTTPD/UserAdmin/Text.pm
-r--r--r-- lstein/lstein  5847 Dec 11 17:30 1997 HTTPD-User-Manage-1.5/lib/HTTPD/UserAdmin/SQL.pm

This will unpack the distribution in a directory named
<cite>HTTPD-User-Manage-X.X</cite>, where <cite>X.X</cite> is the
current version number.  

<h3>Install the HTTPD::* Modules</h3>

Change to the distribution directory
(<cite>HTTPD-User-Manage-X.X</cite>), and type the following:

% <b>perl Makefile.PL</b>
% <b>make</b>
% <b>make test</b>
% <b>make install</b>

This will copy the HTTPD modules to the correct location within the
Perl library directory.  You may need to be root in order to do this.


The HTTPD modules are useful in their own right. During the
installation process, Perl will have created man pages for them which
you can read with the <cite>perldoc</cite> command.  Read the manual
page for HTTPD::Realm first, then HTTPD::RealmManager.

<h3>Install the <cite>user_manage</cite> Script</h3>

Copy <cite>user_manage</cite> into your server's <cite>cgi-bin</cite>
directory, or another directory that allows CGI scripts.  Make sure
that it is executable and that the top line points to the correct
location of Perl on your system, e.g.


<h3>Work Out Permissions for the Password and Group Files</h3>

If you plan to run <cite>user_manage</cite> as a CGI script, then
you'll need to worry about file permissions.  When the script is
executed by the server, it runs with the server's effective user ID,
usually an unprivileged user such as "nobody".  However, this user
usually does not have permission to write to the server's password and
group files.  Thus the script will fail.  In order for the script to
be able to update password and group files, not only must it have
write access to the files themselves, but to the directory that
contains them.  This last requirement is because the script creates
lock and other temporary files within the directory.


Several workable configurations are possible:

<h4>Make <cite>user_manage</cite> Run as a SUID Script</h4>

Perl is capable of safely running scripts set-user-id (suid).  When
the script runs, Perl temporarily changes to a different user ID and
executes the script.  <cite>user_manage</cite> has been written to be
safe when running in this way.


Designate a directory that will hold the various password and group
files, for example /etc/httpd/security.  Make it owned and writable by
a specially-designated "web administrator" account, for example "www".
Now, running as root, change the ownership of <cite>user_manage</cite>
to "www" and set its "s" bit:

# <b>chown www user_manage</b>
# <b>chmod u+s user_manage</b>
# <b>ls -l user_manage</b>
-rwsr-xr-x   1 www   users      18928 Jan 14 03:47 user_manage*

In order for suid to work, this feature needs to be configured into
Perl when it is compiled.  You may need to reinstall Perl if suid was
not enabled, particularly if Perl came preinstalled on your system.
There is also a bug in perl 5.003 when running under some versions of
OSF/1 (Digital Unix) that causes suid scripts to exit silently without
producing any output.  To fix this bug, apply the patch located in the
file <a href="suid.patch">suid.patch</a> included with this
distribution to the Perl source tree and recompile.

<h4>Make <cite>user_manage</cite> Run as a SGID Script</h4>

An alternative to running the script suid is to set the set-group-id
bit instead.  This will cause the script to execute with the
permissions of its owning group.  You can then arrange for the
password and group files to reside within a group-writable directory,
such as one belonging to a web administrators' "www" group.


# <b>chgrp www user_manage</b>
# <b>chmod g+s user_manage</b>
# <b>ls -l user_manage</b>
-rwxr-sr-x   1 root   www      18928 Jan 14 03:47 user_manage*

Under this scheme it may be convenient to have the script create new
password and group files with group writable permissions.  To do this,
change the script global $CREATE_MODE to "0664".  (See <a
href="#configure_script">Configuring the Script</a>.

<h4>Keep the Password and Group Files in a Directory writable by

If you prefer not to run <cite>user_manage</cite> as a suid or
sgid script, you can place the password and group files in a directory
that is owned and writable by the Web server's effective user ID
and/or group.  If you wish for the password files to be modifiable
from the command line, you should also make this directory group
writable by a group that you belong to.


While this strategy is effective, it has the disadvantage that it
gives the web server and all other CGI scripts the ability to modify
the password and group files.  A remote user exploiting a security
hole in the server or one of its CGI scripts could then take advantage
of this fact to alter the password file.

<h3>Restrict Access to the Script</h3>

Because you don't want everyone in the world to view and edit
your server's password files, <cite>user_manage</cite> must be
placed under some kind of access restrictions.  You can do this
either by placing the script in a restricted directory to use
the server's access restrictions, or by allowing the script to
do its own user authentication.

<h3><a name="configure_script">Configure the Script</a></h3>

There are several global variables towards the top of the script that
will need to be modified to suit your site.  Open the script with a
text editor and make the changes if need be.

  <dd>This variable is set to the full pathname of the script's <a
      href="#config_file">realm configuration file</a>.  This file
      holds the definitions of all the security realms at your site.
      It's set to '/etc/httpd/conf/realms.conf' by default.
      Change it according to your preferences (I like
      to keep the config file in the same place as the other web
      server configuration files).
  <dt><code><a name="admin_group">$ADMIN_GROUP</a></code>
  <dd>This global defines the name of an administrator's group.  When
      a user who belong to this group invokes the script remotely, she
      is granted special privileges to add, edit and remove users.
      The default is "administrators".  Set this to an empty string to
      disable this feature entirely.
  <dd>This global controls whether changes to administrators' accounts 
      are restricted. When set to 1, the password of an administrator's 
      account may only be changed by himself. Membership in the 
      privileged $ADMIN_GROUP may only be granted or revoked by the 
      webmaster using conventional command line tools, but no longer by 
      this script. Administrators thus cannot deny each other access, and 
      they can't grant privileged access to others without the webmaster's 
  <dt><code><a name="default_group">$DEFAULT_GROUP</a></code>
  <dd>This is the default group to assign newly-created users to,
      "users" by default.  Set it to an empty string to disable
      automatic group assignment.
      This global affects the manner in which the script interacts
      with Apache's access control facilities.  Ordinarily the script
      first checks the environment to determine
      whether the user has already provided a user name and
      password in order to access the script.  If it finds this
      to be the case, it takes the current user name directly from the
      environment and allows the user to change her password.  If access
      to the script has not been restricted, it performs its own
      access control by prompting the user for a valid user name and password.


      With this variable set to a non-zero value, the script will
      refuse to run at all unless it is in a password-protected
      directory.  Both GET and POST methods must be restricted.
      Here's a typical excerpt from Apache's <cite>access.conf</cite>
&lt;Location /cgi-bin/admin&gt;
  AuthUserFile   /etc/httpd/security/passwd
  AuthGroupFile  /etc/httpd/security/group
  AuthType       Basic
  AuthName       Main

  &lt;Limit GET POST&gt;
    order allow,deny
    allow from all
    require valid-user

      Placing the script under access control provides a small amount
      of additional security at the cost of an extra layer of
      complexity.  It is ordinarily unnecessary.
  <dd>These are the file permissions to use for newly-created password
      and group files.  By default, this variable is set to mode 0644,
      which grants the owner read/write permission and others
      read-only permission.  If you wish to grant edit access to a
      group of local users, such as designated web administrators, you
      might want to change this value to 0664, to give the group
      read/write access.
  <dd>When this script is run from the command line, it uses the
      "stty" program to turn off command echo so that you can type in
      passwords invisibly.  The location of this program may differ from
      system to system.  If you encounter problems with this part of
      the script, check the location of stty and correct the value of
      this variable.

<h3><a name="config_file">Create the Realm Configuration File</a></h3>

Rather than force you to remember the paths to individual password
files, <cite>user_manage</cite> uses a "security realm" scheme to
group related password and group files under meaningful nicknames.
Before you can use this scheme, you must create a configuration file
and save it in the location indicated by the <code><a
href="#configure_script">$CONFIG_FILE</a></code> global.


A sample configuration file, <a href="realms.conf">realms.conf</a> is
included in this distribution.  Its format is similar to that used by
Apache for its access control file.  Blank lines and lines beginning
with the "#" character are ignored.  The file should contain a series
of realm definitions, each beginning with a &lt;Realm&gt; directive
and ending with a &lt;/Realm&gt; directive.  For example:

&lt;Realm main&gt;
	Users      /etc/httpd/security/passwd
	Groups     /etc/httpd/security/group
	Type       Text

&lt;Realm development&gt;
	Users     /etc/httpd/security/devel.passwd
	Groups    /etc/httpd/security/devel.group
	Type      DBM

This example shows the definitions for two security realms, one named
"main" and the other named "development".  Each realm section contains
the three directives <cite>Users</cite>, <cite>Groups</cite>, and


<table border>
  <caption>Required Directives in the &lt;Realm&gt; Section</caption>
  <tr><th>Directive   <th>Example Parameters            <th>Description
  <tr><th>Users       <td><code>/etc/httpd/passwd</code><td>Path to the user password file
  <tr><th>Groups      <td><code>/etc/httpd/group</code> <td>Path to the group file
  <tr><th>Type        <td><code>DBM</code>             <td>Type of file to use


The <cite>Users</cite> and <cite>Groups</cite> directives should
contain absolute path names (except when using SQL databases for
authentication; see <a href="#SQL">below</a>).  Relative path names
will be rejected.  <cite>Type</cite> may be one of <cite>Text</cite>,
<cite>DBM</cite>, <cite>DB</cite>, or <cite>SQL</cite>.  These
correspond to Apache's flat file, DBM file, DB file, and mSQL
authentication formats respectively.  Please be careful that the user
and group files that you declare in Apache's access.conf file
correspond to the type declared in the <cite>user_manage</cite>
configuration file:


<table border>
  <caption>Correspondence between Realm Type and Apache access.conf Directives</caption>
  <tr><th>Type     <th>Password File Directive   <th>Group File Directive
  <tr><td>Text     <td>AuthUserFile              <td>AuthGroupFile
  <tr><td>DBM      <td>AuthDBMUserFile           <td>AuthDBMGroupFile
  <tr><td>DB       <td>AuthDBUserFile            <td>AuthDBGroupFile
  <tr><td>SQL      <td><a href="#SQL">see below</a> <td><a href="#SQL">see below</a>

For the purposes of compatibility with future versions of Apache,
<cite>user_manage</cite> recognizes and works with other types of
DBM-like databases as well, including <cite>GDBM</cite>,
<cite>ODBM</cite>, and <cite>SDBM</cite>, as well as any SQL database
for which there is a Perl driver.


The first realm defined in the configuration file becomes the default,
unless otherwise specified by a Default directive (see the next section).

<h4>Other Configuration File Directives</h4>

In addition to the required realm directives, there are several optional
ones that customize the security realm in various ways.  The complete
list of directives is given in the table below:


<table border>
  <caption>Full List of configuration file directives</caption>
  <tr><th>Directive    <th>Example Param        <th>Description
  <tr><td>Authentication <td>Basic             <td>Authentication scheme
  <tr><td>Database       <td>www@capricorn.com <td>Location of SQL db
  <tr><td>Default        <td><i>none</i>       <td>Default realm
  <tr><td>Driver         <td>mSQL              <td>DBI SQL driver
  <tr><td>Fields         <td>name age paid     <td>Additional user fields
  <tr><td>Groups         <td>/etc/httpd/group  <td>Path to group database
  <tr><td>GroupType      <td>SQL               <td>Database type
  <tr><td>Server         <td>NCSA              <td>Type of server
  <tr><td>Type           <td>DBM               <td>Database type
  <tr><td>Users          <td>/etc/httpd/passwd <td>Path to user database
  <tr><td>UserType       <td>DB                <td>Database type

  <dd>This directives specifies the type of authentication to use.  It
      can be either "Basic" or "Digest."  Digest, part of the
      HTTP/1.1 protocol, is much more secure than basic
      authentication, but is implemented by few browsers currently.
  <dd>This directive is valid for SQL databases only and indicates where the
      authentication database can be found.  It should be in the format
      <i>database@host</i>.  If the hostname is omitted, "localhost" is
      assumed.  For mSQL databases, performance will be much better if
      database and Web server are on the same machine because in this case,
      the client and server use a Unix socket to communicate rather than a
      TCP/IP socket.
  <dd>For SQL databases only, this directive specifies what DBD (database
      driver) module to use.  It defaults to "mSQL".  You can use any
      database for which a DBD module is available.  You must also, of
      course, compile and configure the Web server to correctly use the
  <dd>If this directive is present, the current realm becomes the default to
      use when no realm is explicitly indicated.  If no section in the
      configuration file contains this directive, the first defined realm
      becomes the default.  It is a fatal error for Default to appear in
      more than one section.
  <dd>This directive lists other fields that can be
      found in the user table.  These fields can then be read and set
      by <cite>user_manage</cite>, both in its command line and CGI
      script forms.
      The Fields directive specifies a list of field names of the form
      <i>name</i>[:<i>type</i>][<i>width</i>].  Only the name is
      required.  The field type and width are optional hints that help
      <cite>user_manage</cite> format the field values correctly on
      the Web page.  The type can be one of "i", for an integer value,
      "s" for a string
      value and "f" for a floating point number.  If not specified, the
      field is assumed to be of type string.  The field value must be an
      In the example below we define three fields named "Name", "Age" and
      "Paid".  The first is a string value of default length.  The second is
      an integer.  The third is a string of length one (it's assumed to be a
      "Y" or "N"):
      Fields   Name Age:i Paid:s1
      Many more fields may be present in SQL databases than are listed
      in the Fields directive.  The Fields directive just
      tells the user_manage script which fields should be made visible to
      the user interface.
  <dd>Path to the file that holds the database of groups.  Both
      relative and absolute
      paths are accepted, but absolute paths are preferred.  This
      directive has a special format when using SQL databases, see <a
  <dd>The type of the group database only, allowing you to use separate
      types for the user and group databases.  May be any of DBM, DB,
      SQL, NDBM, GDBM, ODBM or SDBM.  If not provided, the value of Type is
      used instead.
  <dd>Web servers differ slightly in the format of the users and groups
      databases.  This directive indicates which server you are using.
      Recognized values include "apache", "ncsa", "cern" and "netscape."
      Server cern
      If no server is specified, "apache" is assumed.  If your server is not
      on this list, try "ncsa".
  <dd>The database type.  May be any of DBM, DB, SQL, NDBM, GDBM, ODBM
      or SDBM.  This directive applies to both the user and group
  <dd>Path to the file that holds the database of users, their
      passwords and other information.  Both relative and absolute
      paths are accepted, but absolute paths are preferred.  This
      directive has a special format when using SQL databases, see <a
  <dd>The type of the user database only, allowing you to use separate
      types for the user and group databases.  May be any of DBM, DB,
      SQL, NDBM, GDBM, ODBM or SDBM.  If not provided, the value of Type is
      used instead.

<h4><a name="SQL">SQL Databases</a></h4>

<cite>user_manage</cite> can also communicate with various SQL
databases using Tim Bunce's DBI database interface (ODBC is
<em>not</em> currently supported, but a future version may do so).
The Apache Web server can use the inexpensive <a
href="http://Hughes.com.au/">mSQL</a> and <a
href="http://www.tcx.se/">MySQL</a> databases for access control.
Future versions of Apache may be able to access other SQL databases as


When using SQL databases, the Users and Groups directives in the
realms configuration file have a different format.  Instead of
pointing to a physical file, these directives contain information
about what table and field the user, password and group information is
stored in.  A typical Users directive looks like this:

Users table=users uid=name password=pass

The directive consists of three tags.  The "table" tag designates the
database table that contains the user information.  "uid" indicates
the field that contains the user name, and "password" names the field
that contains the user's password.  For performance reasons, the user
name field should be declared the primary index.


The Groups directive has a similar structure:

Groups table=groups group=grp

"table" contains the name of the database table in which the group
information can be found.  "group" contains the name of the field in
which the group name is stored.  You do not have to provide a "uid"
tag in this case, because it is automatically inherited from the uid
field in the Users directive.  If you do provide a "uid" tag, it must
be the same as the corresponding field in the users table (this is an
Apache limitation; not a <cite>user_manage</cite> limitation).  Note
that ANSI SQL forbids you from using the word "group" as a field name.
Some databases, including mySQL will not allow you to create a table
with a column named "group."


A typical mSQL user table looks like this:

 | name         | password      | full_name            | age  | paid |
 | agnes        | nLMOlUUs0/3GM | Agnes Smith          | 20   | Y    |
 | lstein       | 85yefVEyK06Is | Lincoln Stein        | 37   | Y    |
 | phillip      | y/iH4JfAbyLS2 | Phillip Smith        | 19   | N    |
 | wanda        | xKEzzIfvHdMug | Wanda Smith          | 19   | Y    |

A typical groups table looks like this:

 | name                 | grp                            |
 | agnes                | users                          |
 | agnes                | authors                        |
 | agnes                | engineers                      |
 | lstein               | administrators                 |
 | lstein               | authors                        |
 | phillip              | users                          |
 | wanda                | users                          |

In this example, agnes belongs to groups named "users," "authors,"
and "engineers."  lstein belongs to "authors" and "administrators,"
while phillip and wanda each belong to "users" only.


You may use the same table for both users and their groups.  However
if you want to assign a user to more than one group, then you must use
separate tables.  This is because each user record must be unique in
the user table, whereas the same user will appear once in the group
table for each group that he or she belongs to.  Another implication
of this is that the user ID field in the group table cannot be a
primary key, otherwise it would be forced to be unique.


As in the Fields directive, you can provide optional field widths for
each of the field declarations in the Users and Groups directives.
The field widths are used as hints by the CGI script version of
<cite>user_manage</cite> to format the fill-out form nicely.  Follow
the field name with a colon and the field width, as in:

Users table=users uid=name:30 password=pass:13

There is no need to declare the field type since they must be strings,
but it doesn't hurt to do so.


You will also need to declare the location of the database and its DBI
driver using Database and Driver directive.  If these directives do
not appear, they default to "www@localhost" and "mSQL" respectively.


Unlike other database types, <cite>user_manage</cite> does not
automatically create SQL database tables for you.  You will need to
create the tables manually before you use <cite>user_manage</cite> for
the first time.  If you wish, the <cite>user_manage</cite> "setup"
command will output the necessary SQL table creation commands for you.


<h2><a name="using">Using <cite>user_manage</cite> as a CGI Script</a></h2>

<h3>Allowing an Ordinary User to Change Her Password</h3>

In the simplest case, an ordinary (unprivileged) user can use
<cite>user_manage</cite> to change her password on-line.  To
make this possible, create an HTML page with a link like this one:

&lt;A HREF="/cgi-bin/user_manage?realm=development"&gt;
    Change Your Password


This link invokes the <cite>user_manage</cite> script with the
single parameter <cite>realm</cite> set to the security realm you
wish to modify.  If you don't provide this argument, the first realm
defined in the script's <a href="#config_file">configuration file</a>
will be assumed.


To create a button that does the same thing, adapt the following
fragment of HTML:

&lt;FORM ACTION="/cgi-bin/user_manage" METHOD=POST&gt;
    &lt;INPUT TYPE="hidden" NAME="realm" VALUE="development"&gt;
    &lt;INPUT TYPE="submit" VALUE="Change Password"&gt;

When the user selects this link, she will be presented with a page
similar to the one shown here, which prompts her to type in her name
and password.


<div align=CENTER>
<img src="figs/simple_change.1.gif" alt="figure 1" align=CENTER><br>
<cite>Password prompt</cite>


After the script confirs that the user's name and correct password are
found in the password file, the user will be prompted to enter a new
password with a page like the one shown here:


<div align=CENTER>
<img src="figs/simple_change.2.gif" alt="figure 2" align=CENTER><br>
<cite>New password prompt</cite>


The user enters her new password twice in order to avoid typing
errors.  The script then confirms that the password was successfully


<div align=CENTER>
<img src="figs/simple_change.3.gif" alt="figure 3" align=CENTER><br>
<cite>Password confirmation screen</cite>


If an error occurred while updating the password file, the user will
be given a generic error message.  A more specific error message
containing diagnostic output will be found in the server's error log.

<h3>Managing Users Remotely</h3>

If the user who accesses the password changing script belongs to the
special group "administrators" (or whatever is set in the <code><a
href="#admin_group">$ADMIN_GROUP</a></code> global), a different
screen will appear similar to the screenshot shown here. This screen
contains a pop-up menu of all currently defined users (it turns into a
scrolling list when the number of user exceeds eight).  It also
contains a blank textfield for adding entirely new users.  From this
screen you can edit the passwords and groups of existing users, define
new users, and delete users entirely.


<div align=CENTER>
<img src="figs/administrator.1.gif" alt="figure 4"><br>
<cite>Administrator's user management screen</cite>

<h4>Adding a New User</h4>

To add a new user, type his or her user name into the text field
labeled <em>New User</em> and press <em>Edit/Add</em>.  A screen like
this one will appear:


<div align=CENTER>
<img src="figs/administrator.2.gif" alt="figure 5"><br>
<cite>Adding a new user</cite>


The checkboxes labeled <em>Set Groups</em> contains all the groups
currently defined.  Toggle all the groups that you wish the user to
belong to.  If a group isn't already defined, you can type in its name
in the text field labeled <em>Other:</em>.  Enter and reenter the
password for this user in the text fields labeled <em>Password
Enter</em> and <em>Confirm</em>.  When you are satisifed, press the
<cite>Set Values</cite> button.  A confirmation will appear at the top
of the page, and the script will display the "User Edit" page
described in the next section.  You can re-edit the user (to define
new groups, for example), edit a different user, or add another new


If any additional user fields are defined in the configuration file,
they will appear as a series of text fields in a section labeled
"Other Information".  In the example shown here there are three
labeled "name", "age" and "paid."


If there are more than five groups defined, the list of checkboxes
will turn into a scrolling list in order to save space.

<h4>Editing an Existing User</h4>

To edit an existing user, just select the user from the user list and
press <em>Edit/Add</em>.  This will bring up the page shown below.
The top portion of the screen contains a duplicate of the user
selection page, while the bottom portion contains the entry for the
selected user.  Edit the user's assigned groups and/or passwords and
press <cite>Set Values</cite>.  If you inadvertently make a change
that you do not want to keep, press <cite>Reset Values</cite> to
revert to the original values.


The screenshot below also shows how the popup menu of existing users
turns into a scrolling list when the number becomes large.


<div align=CENTER>
<img src="figs/administrator.3.gif" alt="figure 6"><br>
<cite>Editing an existing user</cite>

<h4>Deleting a User</h4>

Select the user you wish to delete from the user list and press the
<cite>Delete</cite> button.


<h3>Managing Users from the Command Line</h3>

<cite>user_manage</cite> can be used from the command line to
add, edit, and delete users.  It's also a handy way to view the
contents of a DB or DBM file.


The syntax for invoking the script from the command line is:

user_manage [<em>realm</em>] <em>command</em> <em>argument1 argument2 argument3</em>

The first argument to the command is the security realm.  You can, if
you wish, omit the realm name entirely.  If you do so, the script
will default to the first realm defined in its configuration file.
This is followed by a command indicating the action you want the
script to take.  Following this are zero or more additional arguments,
the meaning of which depend on the command that's being issued.


Here's a summary of the commands and their arguments:


<table border>
<caption>Commands recognized by <cite>user_manage</cite></caption>
<tr><th>Command   <th>Arguments         <th>Description
<tr><th>setup     <td>(none)                    <td>First-time setup
    for a database
<tr><th>add       <td><em>user password [group1,group2...] [field1=value1,field2=value2...]</em> <td>Add or edit a user's password & groups
<tr><th>delete    <td><em>user1 user2...</em>     <td>Delete named users
<tr><th>edit      <td><em>user password [group1,group2...]  [field1=value1,field2=value2...]</em> <td>A synonym for "add"
<tr><th>realms   <td>(none)            <td>Concise list of all defined realms
<tr><th>group     <td><em>user [group1,group2...]</em> <td>Set the user's groups
<tr><th>group     <td><em>user [field1=value1,field2=value2...]</em> <td>Set the user's values
<tr><th>view      <td><em>user1 user2...</em>   <td>View users' entries
<tr><th>view      <td>(none)                    <td>View all users
<tr><th>format    <td>(none)                    <td>Create a formatted
    entry for access.conf

<h4>Initial Setup of a Security Realm</h4>

If you issue the "setup" command, <cite>user_manage</cite> will
create a new database for you containing a single
administrative user.  It will prompt you for the administrator's name,
and the name of the administrative group.  For example:

$ user_manage -r development setup
Pick a name for the administrative group [administrators]: 
Pick a name for the administrative account: lstein
New password: ********
Re-type new password: *******
Added lstein to database development in group administrators.

If the database already exists, its other user entries will not be
erased.  However, if the name you chose for the administrative account
already exists in the database it will be overwritten.


If you are using an SQL database, "setup" will not make any changes
directly to the database.  Instead, it prints out a series of SQL
commands suitable for feeding to the database via a command-line or
batch tool.  For example:

$ user_manage -r wizards setup
Pick a name for the administrative group [administrators]: 
Pick a name for the administrative account: lstein
New password: ******
Re-type new password: ******
Create database www and feed it this code:

   uid	char(12)	primary key,
   password	char(3)	not null,
    name	char(30),
    age	        int,
    paid	char(1)

INSERT INTO users (uid,password)
   uid	char(12),
   grp	char(20)
INSERT INTO groups (uid,grp)

<h4>Viewing the Contents of a Security Realm</h4>

To get the listing of a security realm, issue the "view" command.
With no user names, this will dump out the entire contents of the passwd
and groups files in a convenient tabular file.  To see the entries on
selected users, list their names.  For example:

$ user_manage -r development view
Name            Password         Groups                Info
----            --------         ------                ----
ben             Yr.a3p6C/3Rlg    users
ebuliah         DZlBiw41ZDmo2    users
joshua          9Fb2NkZe4xY4I    authors,users         name=Joshua Canaan,age=20,paid=Y
leigh           krIfoqNKkpyho    users                 name=Leigh Deacon,age=28,paid=Y
lois            aBIdyi3Q2FdTw    users                 name=Lois Lane,age=24,paid=Y
lstein          xfPti/KeINcC2    administrators,authors,

$ user_manage development view lois joshua
Name            Password         Groups               Info
----            --------         ------               ----
joshua          9Fb2NkZe4xY4I    authors,users        name=Joshua Canaan,age=20,paid=Y
lois            aBIdyi3Q2FdTw    users                name=Lois Lane,age=24,paid=Y

Note that the passwords appear in encrypted form.  All passwords are
encrypted <strong>before</strong> being placed into the password
file.  Once encrypted, there is no easy way of recovering the original

<h4>Adding a New User</h4>

Issue the <em>add</em> command, giving the name of the new user, her
initial password, a comma-delimited list of groups you want her to
belong to, and zero or more field=value pairs.  If you don't specify
any groups, the script will assign the user to the default group
defined by the <code><a
name="#default_group">$DEFAULT_GROUP</a></code> global variable.  If
you specify an empty group using any of "-", '' or "", the user will
be assigned to no groups.


If the realm has additional fields defined by a Fields directive, you
can set this information here by passing <cite>user_manage</cite> a
comma-delimited series of field name = value pairs.  Be careful if
field values contain embedded white space or shell metacharacters.  If
this is the case, you'll need to protect the entire series of
name=value pairs with quotation marks.  Field names that are not
explicitly listed in the configuration file will be silently ignored.


If you do not enter the user name or password on the command line, you
will be prompted for it.  It's actually safer not to type passwords
on the command line as they can be easily intercepted by other users
of the system.


In each of these examples, the realm has been omitted, allowing
<cite>user_manage</cite> to use the default realm.

<cite>Add a user and password, accepting default group assignment</cite>
$ user_manage add joseph open-sesame
Password successfully changed for joseph.
Group set to users.

<cite>Add a new user and password, setting groups explicitly</cite>
$ user_manage add leigh greenman users,authors
Password successfully changed for leigh.
Group set to users authors.

<em>Add a new user and password, setting groups and extra info</em>
$ user_manage add george xyzzy users,authors "name=George Jetson,paid=Y"
Password successfully changed for george.
Group set to users authors.

<em>Let the script prompt for missing values</em>
$ user_manage add
User name: duncan
Enter password:
Re-type password:
Password successfully changed for duncan.
Group set to users.

<h4>Changing the Password of an Existing User</h4>

Use the <em>add</em> command as described above.  You can also change
the group assignments at the same time.  For your convenience, the
command <em>edit</em> is also available.  However it is identical in
functionality to <em>add</em>.

<h4>Changing Group Assignments without Affecting the Password</h4>

If you wish to change a user's group assignments without resetting her
password, issue the <em>group</em> command with the user's name and
the list of groups to assign her to (separated either by white space
or by commas).  Use any of "-", '' or "" to assign the user to
<strong>no</strong> groups.



$ user_manage group joseph users,authors,administrators
Groups set for joseph.

If you omit the user name or list of groups, the program will prompt
you for their values.

<h4>Changing User Information without Affecting the Password or Groups</h4>

If you wish to change a user's additional field information without
resetting the other information, issue the <em>info</em> command with
the user's name and a comma-delimited set of field_name=value pairs.
If you do not provide the field pairs, the program will prompt for
them.  Fields that are not listed in a Fields directive in the
configuration file will be silently ignored.



$ user_manage info george age=20
Info successfully changed for george.

$ user_manage info george
Enter comma-separated list of field=value pairs for george: age=80
Info successfully changed for george.

If you don't specify the user name, the program will prompt for it.

<h4>Deleting a User</h4>

Issue the <em>delete</em> command with a list of users to remove
entirely (whitespace-delimited).  If you do not enter at least one
name, the program will prompt you.

<h4>Obtaining the List of Defined Realms</h4>

Issue the <em>realms</em> command with no arguments.  This will list
all the realms defined in the script's configuration file.

$ user_manage realms
Name                        Type
----                        ----
development                 DB
*main                       File
test                        DBM

The default realm is indicated with an asterisk.

<h4>Formatting a .htaccess or access.conf Entry</h4>

The <cite>format</cite> command will produce an access control entry
suitable for cutting and pasting into your Web server's access control
file.  The basic entry allows access to all valid users.  You should
modify this entry to reflect your intent.


Here are some examples:

$ user_manage -r development format
AuthName	development
AuthType	Basic
AuthDBUserDB	./devel.passwd
AuthDBGroupDB	./devel.group
require valid-user

$ user_manage -r wizards format
AuthName	wizards
AuthType	Basic
Auth_MSQLHost		localhost
Auth_MSQLDatabase	www
Auth_MSQLpwd_table	users
Auth_MSQLuid_field 	uid
Auth_MSQLpwd_field	password
Auth_MSQLgrp_table	groups
Auth_MSQLgrp_field	grp
require valid-user

This can be a real time-saver, particularly if you have trouble
remembering the spelling of all those directives!

<h4>Restrictions on Using <cite>user_manage</cite> from the Command Line</h4>

As explained earlier, file permissions are a big issue when running
<cite>user_manage</cite> as a CGI script.  One solution is to make
the script run as set-group-id or set-user-id.  When run from the
command line, the script will disable the sgid and suid bits and run
with the effective ID of the user launching it.  This prevents local
users from wantonly changing the password files without appropriate


The one exception to this rule is that if the user's UNIX login name
matches the name of a user who belongs to the "administrators" group,
the script will honor the sgid and suid bits.  This mimics the
behavior of the script when it's running as a CGI program.


<h2>Bugs and Caveats</h2>

<h3>File Locking</h3>

Because <cite>user_manage</cite> is used as a CGI script, it is
possible that several users will try to update the password and group
files simultaneously.  In order to prevent files from becoming
scrambled by this, the script implements a form of file locking that
allows only one user to have write access to the files at any time.


The file locking used by this script is based on the Unix fcntl()
call, which does <strong>not</strong> work correctly across NFS
mounted volumes.  Because of this, the password and group files must
reside on one of the web server's local disks.  For the same reason,
if you use <cite>user_manage</cite> from the command line, you
should do it from the web server's host machine.


If the script exits prematurely for some reason, it may leave lock
files lying around.  These appear as files with the extension ".TMP"
in the directory holding the password and group files.  You can safely
ignore these files or delete them.  Their presence will not adversely
affect the script's operation.  If the script consistently fails to
clean up lock files, please contact me.  There's probably a bug.


Another thing to be aware of is that the Apache server itself doesn't
honor the file locks.  If a user updates a password or group file at
the same time that Apache is trying to read it, the server may read
partial or outdated information.  This may cause rare intermittent
user authentication errors.  (The same is also true of the htpasswd
and dbmmanage scripts, which don't use any sort of locking at all).

<h3>Apache Doesn't Recognize Security Realms</h3>

Security realms are a good way of organizing your site's access
policies by keeping related password and group files together.  Apache
would benefit from this concept, but currently doesn't.  You're still
responsible for maintaining correct paths to the password and group
files in <cite>access.conf</cite>.


An Apache module that works with Doug MacEachern's mod_perl is in the
works to correct this deficiency 

<h3>No Support for Netscape Group Files</h3>

The Netscape server stores group information using a scheme that is
somewhat more complex than other servers do.  No support is currently
provided for these group files.  You can still define an
administration group to manage users remotely with this tool, but the
groups are not honored by the Netscape server.

<h3>Don't Use This Script to Change /etc/passwd or /etc/group !!</h3>

The file formats are different.  You will destroy your system if you
try it.

<h3>The Script Doesn't Handle NIS, POP or System Passwords</h3>

It's designed for updating passwords on the Web only.  If you want to
allow users to change their POP, NIS or system passwords via a Web
interface, you're going to have to roll your own.


<h2>Modification History</h2>

<h3>Version 1.56 - May 6, 1999</h3>
  <li>Added support for authenticating to SQL databases.

<h3>Version 1.51 - December 30, 1997</h3>
  <li>Fixed support for the Netscape server and added caveats about
      not supporting Netscape groups.

<h3>Version 1.50 - December 30, 1997</h3>

  <li>Fully integrated with Doug MacEachern's HTTPD::* modules.
  <li>Handles SQL databases.
  <li>Allows you to get and set additional field information.

<h3>Version 1.00 - January 15, 1997</h3>

  <li>First release

<h3>Version 1.01 - March 8, 1997</h3>

  <li>Changed group list from scrolling list to checkbox group if
      small enough.
  <li>Turned off suid and sgid bits if run by unprivileged user from
      command line.

<h2>Author and Distribution Information</h2>

The current version of this package can be found at:

<a href="http://www.genome.wi.mit.edu/~lstein/user_manage/">http://www.genome.wi.mit.edu/~lstein/user_manage/</a>

If you are having trouble with the script, check here for updates.


<cite>user_manage</cite> was written by <a
href="http://www.genome.wi.mit.edu/~lstein/">Lincoln D. Stein</a>.  It
can be freely distributed and modified, so long as this documentation
accompanies it and the following copyright statement is displayed in
the source code:

Copyright 1997-2000 Lincoln D. Stein.  All rights reserved.
See the accompanying HTML file for usage and distribution
information.  The master version can be found at:


<address>Lincoln D. Stein, lstein@w3.org<br>
<a href="/">Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research</a></address>
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Last modified: Mon Nov 21 13:15:07 EST 2005
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