Updates April 2010 Edition

Django tickets

There’s been only a little movement on the ticket (#13101) I patched for 1.2. However, there’s been some new developments on the ticket (#10809) I patched regarding authentication with mod_wsgi. There’s been a suggestion to add group based authorization to Django’s mod_wsgi auth handler. There’s still some debate as to whether to use Django groups or Django permissions.

Edit (November 30, 2012): Issue #10809 finally made it into trunk and the release notes for Django 1.5.

django-pyodbc is dead?

In a previous post, I talked about getting involved in django-pyodbc development. We are using django-pyodbc at work but the project is languishing a little bit. The project has never had a formal release, the documentation (other than source documentation) is a little light, and despite patches being submitted to get the code in shape for Django’s upcoming 1.2 release, nothing has been checked in by the developers. In fact, there’s been nothing on the project from the developers since January. I emailed the developers a few days ago offering to help and I haven’t heard anything back yet. I’d much rather keep the project together, but if I continue to get nothing I will probably branch the code line and begin development and maintenance. I’m not looking forward to having to find a Windows box on which to setup multiple versions of SQL Server but I’m hoping to be able to virtualize it.

Edit (June 23, 2010): The developers have gotten involved again and I killed my fork of the project.

RPC4Django updates

I’m planning to put some effort into RPC4Django this weekend and make a release in the next week or two. The main features I’m looking at is the existing blueprint in Launchpad to handle authentication out of the box. Other than that, I got a little feedback on the HTTP access control functionality back in January that I need to test. I also plan to rip out the existing documentation and go to a Sphinx based system. We’ve been using Sphinx at work and I’ve been very impressed with its capabilities.

Django authentication and mod_wsgi

While I was setting up the RPC4Django authenticated demo site (user = pass = rpc4django, self signed certificate), I ran into an interesting problem. There is a well documented way to use the Django auth database for HTTP basic authentication with apache/mod_python, but an authentication handler for mod_wsgi was not built into Django. After some investigation, I found the part of the mod_wsgi documentation on Django authentication. However, I was curious why a mod_python authentication handler existed in the Django code line, but no such mod_wsgi handler existed despite the fact that mod_wsgi is now the preferred method of Django production deployment.

A mod_wsgi authentication handler

This investigation led me to Django ticket #10809 which contains a patch for a mod_wsgi authentication handler. I found this interesting and I tried to install it into the demo site. At the time, I hadn’t even implemented the .wsgi authentication script and I was using an Apache htpasswd file in addition to the Django auth database. However, when I attempted to install the mod_wsgi handler, I ran into a number of issues. Firstly, mod_wsgi does not seem to be able to import a python module from the python path. Therefore, the line: WSGIAuthUserScript django.contrib.auth.handlers.modwsgi yields:

This led me to believe that mod_wsgi literally opens and reads the WSGIAuthUserScript. The problem with this is that DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE is not set before that is called and mod_wsgi does not pass environment variables that are set to the auth script. As per the documentation:

Any configuration defined by SetEnv directives is not passed in the ‘environ’ dictionary because doing so would allow users to override the configuration specified in such a way from a ‘.htaccess’ file. Configuration should as a result be placed into the script file itself.

This means that any attempt at a generic mod_wsgi authentication handler is moot since it cannot be configured to connect to the correct project’s auth database.

The solution

The solution is simple and not very gratifying: write an auth script specific for your application. This is what the demo site does now.



Update (October 9, 2009)

After some discussion on Django ticket #10809 with the author of mod_wsgi, I submitted a patch that includes a Django mod_wsgi auth handler. Hopefully it gets accepted soon.